Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Sunday 5 May 2013

Watering cans and easy watering in the polytunnel

With the warmer weather this week I have been lugging a lot of these around.

It can get really hot inside a polytunnel during the day and all my precious plants need lots of watering.

As you all know, I love my polytunnel. But one of the things I don't love, is that the previous owners of our house erected the polytunnel on top of subsoil, dumped from when they had the garage built. This means I can't grow directly into the soil in beds but have to use large pots ( I use builders buckets with holes in) to grow my plants in. My system works well and I get great crops, but I do have to water everything, by hand, a lot more than if the plants grew in the ground.

In the height of summer that means at least 20 mins, morning and evening, spent watering the polytunnel. I don't begrudge the time spent as I enjoy tending my plants, but it also means I can't go away for more than a day unless I arrange for someone to come in and water the polytunnel, in my place.

I use a hose and a watering lance for larger plants, but at the moment the tomato plants are still small and seedlings need watering with something a bit more delicate and directable, hence all the watering cans!

I have often wondered about setting up an automatic watering system inside the polytunnel for use in the height of summer, which I could connect to the tap and set with a timer. We use Hozelock type fittings on all the taps and I have been looking at various online sites for suppliers and found Easy Watering to have some good ideas. I just need to work out how much it might cost, which system would work best for us and who to buy it from.

Inside the polytunnel I need to apply the water either on the top of the pots directly or into the gravel trays they stand in, so I think some sort of  drip irrigation system  (also available from Easy Watering)  might work best in there. I could lay the main hose up the middle of the floor with the side branch hoses leading to the trays or pots - each tray holds three big pots so I wouldn't need too many side hoses (there are typically 16- 20 gravel trays on the floor at the height of the growing season.)
Outside in the veg garden I use soaker hoses laid on the soil in the beds, as well as assorted spray fountains placed on the soil. I only use the soaker hose when needed and always when we are around to monitor it so I don't need an automated system there. I also use the water we collect in the water butts where ever I can.

By the way, this is the experimental potato bed, finally fully planted up with the straw/compost top mulch layer in place.  I will let you know how the experiment goes and how it compares to the harvest from the adjacent bed, which I planted up using my normal method.

So, it is time for me to have a think about our future irrigation needs, both automatic watering systems  and any different/additiona manual equipment we need to source.  I tell you though, if we ever get the new polytunnel up and running in the newly cleared and levelled area it will have raised beds I can plant into!


  1. I love my polytunnel but I agree, it can get exceedingly hot in there - unbearable at times. Luckily I have raised beds in mine and can use the soil below as well so watering is less of an issue for me, although the pots take alot of water in the summer. We have a huge natural pond next to ours so I use that for water but I'm hoping Mr TG will get round to that water stand pipe this year.
    Thank you for sharing


  2. Hi Linda, thanks for commenting :-)

    We are on a borehole and we have several stand pipes with taps in the garden - but I do use a lot of hose !

    Water still has to be pumped up from the borehole though (electric pump but free electrons in the sunshine from the pv's)

    I have used the pool in the past and obviously the water butts also.

    Just come in from doing it this morning - it is already nearly 30 C in there! Opened the doors and it cooled off a bit, though. May need to get the fans running today if the sun keeps shining :-)


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