In a scorching heat wave, gardens can quickly go from green and perky to brown and crispy. Part of my own garden is suffering as it’s beyond the reach of my hose. The wildflowers and milkweed ideally should look after themselves, but in an extended drought, even tough plants suffer, (and this garden is still establishing), so I’ve been using strategic buckets of water for irrigation.
Bucket watering isn’t efficient, as the water slooshes out of the bucket in a Niagara Falls-like fashion. Once on the ground there is often runoff, as the water finds its way along the soil surface instead of where I want it, near my plant’s roots. Its a problem, as I don’t want to waste a drop when I’m schlepping buckets around. But there is a solution.
Luckily I learned a tip watching community Tree Tenders water newly-planted trees in a park. Locals had volunteered to adopt a tree, meaning they took on the job of watering their tree in the middle of a park, far from a garden hose. Local organization, LEAF (Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests) helped out by training volunteers through the LEAF Tree Tenders program.
Their genius watering method—how to turn Niagara Falls into a slow trickle by turning a bucket into a soaker hose—is one I plan to use myself. The secret is a multi-gallon plastic bucket with a few holes drilled in the bottom of it. The tree tender volunteer then fills several large containers from the main hose in the park, getting them over to the tree with help of a bundle buggy. Instead of tipping out the individual containers onto the earth, creating runoff, they fill the large bucket and let the water seep into the ground through the bucket holes drilled in the bottom.
This holey-bucket method could be done anywhere in your garden. Leave a few buckets permanently in place next to your tomato plants for easy watering. That way you know the water is going into the soil instead of onto the leaves, evaporating, or just running off. You can pick up the bucket and move it anywhere you need to water. My next garden task is going to be finding a 20 gallon bucket and a drill. Turns out having a hole in your bucket can be a good thing!