(June, 2010) For some unexplained reason I’ve developed a consuming passion for irrigation systems. I love to fiddle with broken nozzles, install drip systems and watch quietly as the sprinklers work their way back and forth across the lawn. When I overhauled my current garden, one of my first steps was to upgrade the drip system with the goal of minimizing the need for hand watering, while making sure each plant received adequate irrigation. Ultimately, I succeeded and failed at the same time.

Most of the plants in the garden are doing quiet well with the regular watering. My problem has been with the plants at the extremes. I have several flowers, particularly those in pots, that are heavy water consumers and need daily, generous  watering. My solution has been to double up on the drippers for each plant or to swap out the drippers for large volume bubblers. Then there are the drought tolerant California natives that prefer  limited overhead watering. For example, the two poppies pictured to the right (the Eschscholzia ‘Apricot Chiffon’ and ‘Rose Chiffon’) have done extremely poorly with the in-ground drip system.  The Apricot Chiffon basically collapsed (I ultimately had to throw it out) and the the Rose Chiffon is barely surviving. Since most of the nearby plants require regular watering, it is nearly impossible to keep the area around the poppies dry enough to meet their needs.

One solution would be to create a “California Only” area of the garden for the drought tolerant plants with a separate watering system, but I don’t have enough available space nor the energy to create a second drip system. The only other solution I can think of is to revert to containers, but that will likely require hand watering.

So I have no perfect solution – other than resigning myself to growing plants that prefer average to heavy watering. I will just have to slink into the shadows in embarrassment whenever I see a water conservationist walk by

(March, 2011) Now that I've had the Winter to calmly think back about the prior season, I've seen the error of my ways. Most of the problems with watering stem from a couple of large plants (including an unruly Tomato) that I was growing in pots that were way too small. Each day they would suck up every drop of water in the pot and I would have to resort to high volume bubblers to replenish them every evening. The plants survivied, but it meant I had to water every other plant in the garden, every evening. So many plants that did not need watering were doused anyway.

This growing season I'll try using significantly larger pots and see if I can move the watering cycle to four days a week.