Posts

Portable Drip Irrigation With a Recycled Milk Jug

Do you have plants that need extra water this summer? 

Many of us have a few plants that aren’t connected to an irrigation system. Some people don’t have an irrigation system and use a hose to water plants, which is time-consuming and inefficient.

While you can certainly haul out your hose and water each of your thirsty plants, it is not the best way. The main problem is the hose puts out water quickly and the soil can’t absorb it fast enough. As a result, much of the water runs off and doesn’t benefit the plant as much as it should.

So, if the time-consuming task of watering plants by hand isn’t your cup of tea, I’m here for you. You can make life easier by creating your own portable drip irrigation system with a recycled milk jug

This solution is very easy and will have you digging through your recycle bin collecting your used milk jugs.

To get started, you will need an empty plastic milk jug and a nail.

1. Heat the nail using a lighter or stove burner. Then use the nail to pierce 3 – 4 small holes in the bottom of the milk jug.

Portable Drip Irrigation With a Recycled Milk Jug

2. Fill the milk jug up with water, put the cap on and carry it upside down to the plant. Turn it right side up and set it down to the plant that needs irrigation. *You can also set the empty milk jug(s) next to your plants, bring the hose to them and fill with water that way.

Portable Drip Irrigation With a Recycled Milk Jug

3. Slightly loosen the cap, which will allow the water to drip out of the holes at the bottom – this allows the water to penetrate the soil slowly, instead of running off.

Once the water has drained out of the bottom of the jug, pick up your milk jug and move it to the next plant. After you are done, bring the empty jugs inside and store until the next time you need them.

If you live in a windy area and worry the milk jug will blow away, weigh them down with an inch of small rocks in the bottom of the jug – the rocks won’t interfere with the water dripping out.

Portable Drip Irrigation With a Recycled Milk Jug

I usually recommend this method of irrigating cacti monthly in summer.

This portable drip irrigation system is a great aid for those who live in areas that are suffering from drought or where an irrigation system may not exist.

**A semi-permanent variation of this method is to create holes along the sides instead of on the bottom. Then bury the entire jug next to the plant, leaving just the top exposed. To water plants, remove the milk cap and fill with water and replace the cap.

I hope you find this DIY garden project helpful. Please feel free to share it with your friends by clicking the “Share” button below. 

How To Grow Tomatoes in the Desert

I must confess that the heat of July keeps me indoors most of the time.

In fact, I try to make my trips out to my garden under 15 minutes or less.  I just don’t like to sweat.

But, I do have two things that I have to share with you.

The first one is – my pumpkin seeds have all sprouted and are growing!

July Vegetable Garden

July Vegetable Garden

All four came up.

I didn’t plant them inside of my vegetable garden, because of how large they get. I learned my lesson a few years ago.  You can read my post about it if you like –  “What Is Wrong With This Picture”

July Vegetable Garden

July Vegetable Garden

I also put some chicken wire around the planting site to keep my dogs from digging up my newly planted seeds.

For water, I put a single drip emitter in the center, which is connected to the drip system of my nearby vegetable garden.

My pumpkins should be ready in October.  Right now, that seems so far away – but it will be here before we know it!

A few weeks ago, I posted about what was happening in my summer vegetable garden “Snapshot of a Summer Week in the Garden”

In it, I mentioned trying drying my herbs by spreading them out onto cookie sheets instead of hanging them up.

Well guess what?

July Vegetable Garden

It worked beautifully!

I placed my herbs onto paper towels and then covered them with additional paper towels to keep the dust off.

I stored them in our garage and when I checked on them a week later – they were nice and dry.

This was much easier then hanging them, so this will probably be my “go-to” method from now on.

*I can only speak to my experience of drying herbs this way in a desert climate.  I’m not sure how well it would work in more humid climates.

But, you never know until you try ๐Ÿ™‚

As most would expect, water is considered a precious resource in the desert. But, did you know that there are more plant problems caused due to over-watering then under-watering?  

Believe it or not, it is true. Most people are surprised to hear that up to 70% of residential water usage goes to watering trees and plants in your landscape. This high percentage is because many homeowners over-water their trees and plants.

over watering

 Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia basilaris) and Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua

During college, I was fortunate to intern at the City of Mesa Water Conservation Office. The lessons that I learned there would last a lifetime. Nowadays, when I visit clients to help them with their landscapes, over 90% of the time I find that their irrigation schedule is incorrect – they water too lightly and too often.  

This results in shallow roots and salt build-up in and around the root zone. (If you have seen a white substance around your plants, there is a good chance that it is the salts from the soil. And just an FYI – just like high amounts of salt are not good for us; they are not good for plants either).

Overwatering will weaken your plants, especially during the summer since their roots are close to the surface where they become hot and dry out much more quickly.

over watering

 Trailing Yellow Dot (Wedelia trilobata), Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida), Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri)

It’s important to note that plants need to be watered deeply, which does two things. First, it causes the roots to grow deeper into the soil, where it is cooler and stays moister longer. Secondly, it helps to reduce the salts in the soil and keeps them away from the root zone.

Your plants do not need the same amount of irrigation all year. Plants follow the weather- the hotter it is, the more water they need and when temperatures dip, the less that they need.  For example, I water my garden once every 20 days in the winter, (excluding grass and annuals), and it is healthy and looks great.  If you only take one thing from this article, then please let it be this; CHANGE THE WATERING SCHEDULE ON YOUR IRRIGATION CONTROLLER SEASONALLY. 

over watering

Now, you are probably asking “How do I know what schedule my plants and lawn should be on?”  Well, the folks at Water Use It Wisely is coming to your rescue. They have excellent information for the homeowner on the proper irrigation schedule for your plants. You can view it here:  Landscape Watering Guide  

This guide was made for people who reside in the Phoenix metropolitan area. However, people who live in dry climates everywhere will find useful information regarding irrigation, and you can also contact your local extension office for locally published materials. **Most cities have information for their residents regarding watering schedules for their local climate. You can also contact your local cooperative extension office who often have this information as well. 

If you find that you have been over-watering your plants, make sure that when you switch to the correct irrigation schedule, that you gradually change the schedule so that your plants have a chance to adjust

over watering

Make sure you have the correct irrigation schedule which lets you have healthier plants, a lower water bill, and helps conserve water.

**For those of you not familiar with drip irrigation. The primary way the southwest waters their plants. Water is brought to the plant by a series of plastic pipes, tubing & emitters. The emitters drip water slowly to the root zone of the plant, reducing runoff and allowing the water to permeate deeply into the soil, which saves water.