Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Watering your plants whilst on holiday.

My girlfriend and I have an allotment. We also enjoy going away for periods of time to see family and friends, or to go and see a bit of the world. Which is fine in rainy Britain for my outdoor plants, but less forgiving for my green house plants which can range from tomatos, to seedling carrots, to strawberry plants and herbs.

So what to do when we go away? We COULD pester our friends and flat mates but we can’t expect them to check up on our plants all the time. As I probably wouldn’t want to do it for other people.

This is a short blog about some of the options available to me. Based on the following requirements:
·      Needs to be able to water for around 7 days
·      Needs to provide the right amount of water for the plant it's serving
·      Needs to be able to service seed(ling)s
·      Accounts for different sized pots

Option 1: Upside Down Bottle
The classic upside down bottle in the soil. This consists of putting a hole or slightly opening a bottle lid, turning it upside down, cutting off the bottom and filling with water. This slowly releases water into the pot for the eager plant.
Benefits: Quick, effective, simple to make, simple to use.
Limitations: Need to buy many to deal with demand, hard to regulate water flow and maintain water amounts, needs bigger bottles for bigger plants which takes up room and is ugly.

Option 2: Mighty Dripper Ultimate Plant Watering Kit
You can find this product here
Similar system which allows for more pots to be watered from the same source. This hangs off a hook and drip feeds water all day to your plants.
Benefits: Cheap (£17), scalable for water output, can give more or less water to different plants
Limitations: Limited to 10.5L so limited number of days it can be used before refill.

Link 2 is a very impressive way of watering your plants, and given time and resources infinite, it would be my preferred choice of watering.
Benefits: Allows plants to take what water they need, self-maintaining, no need for pots, can water the garden for a long time
Requires a lot of space, can be difficult to create and maintain, expensive.

Option 4: An Arduino controlled watering system
An Arduino controlled system would be able to water plants at a specific time, using mathematics to work out how much water a plant needs, based on the type of plant, size of the pot and the current temperature/soil dampness.
Benefits: Scalable, easy to code (if you know how), can be supplied by any water supply, parts are cheap (Arduino costs around £5), can be hidden away
Limitations: Needs a battery (potentially dangerous in a home), hard to code(if you don’t know how), hard to build, can be expensive if you need to buy lots of parts.

This concludes an overview of the options I saw. There were some variations but all used similar techniques which gave it the same benefits and limitations.

Any hints or tips on what I should do? Have you made your own watering System? Let me know in the comments.

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