Three ways to conserve water

Water conservation is a top priority these days, both in the home and in the garden. I get excited any time I find a product that will reduce water consumption, and I also take interest in any item that will save time in the garden. The more efficient the better, especially when it comes to watering. Last season I tried three new items: a microperf basket liner, polymer crystals and a seed nozzle on a recycled plastic water bottle.

1. MICROPERF (left) is a plastic pot liner that is perforated to allow water out and air in, while reducing the water flow so it doesn’t run out before the plants have a chance to wick it up. Conceived and made in B.C., it is available in both small and large sizes. I used them to line moss baskets, hanging baskets, terra-cotta pots and wooden windowboxes. At about one dollar per container they proved to be a fantastic investment; plants thrived and my watering was reduced by half. There are many containers I don’t empty, so the liners will be used for several more seasons; for the ones that I replace annually I composted the soil and rinsed the liners to reuse them.

polymer crystals
Polymer crystals

2. POLYMER CRYSTALS are also a water saver.
They are added to the container at planting time at a rate of 15 mL (1 Tbsp.) per 30-cm (12-in.) container. The crystals absorb up to 200 times their weight in water and release it to the plant as needed. The crystals can dry out and be reused season after season. These were fantastic in ornamental hanging baskets and window boxes, and when paired with a microperf liner, it actually allowed three days between watering. Please do keep in mind when using polymer crystals that they are not for edible crops, and should only be used for ornamental planting.

water nozzle
Water nozzle

3. A LITTLE WATER NOZZLE introduced to me by my friend Peter, distributor of the famous Halls Greenhouses, is a great gadget that costs a dollar and screws onto any standard water bottle. The gentle spray is perfect for indoor watering, young seedlings or hard-to-reach high areas; just squeeze the bottle. I placed several large bottles about and made sure to fill them up when the hose came out, then whenever I noticed a dry plant I could easily spot-water. It was also convenient for hanging plants. Pick up some green plastic toppers and keep a few bottles on hand, inside and outside. They can also be used to fertilize; just remember to label your bottles using a waterproof permanent marker.

All three can make watering less of a chore in your garden, and they’re available from most garden centres, seed catalogues and garden gift stores. Every drop of water we save adds up, as well as those few extra minutes not spent at the end of the hose.