Using watering and spraying equipment

You will inevitably spend a large portion of your gardening time making sure that your plants have an adequate supply of water. Before purchasing any watering equipment, consider your requirements carefully, and always remember that water is a precious resource that should never be wasted.

There is a very wide range of watering equipment and systems available to the gardener. The equipment you will need depends on the style of your garden and the local climate.

Watering cans

You will almost certainly need a hand-held watering can for plants requiring individual attention, and for watering seed trays and young seedlings. Traditional watering cans are made of galvanized metal; although they look more attractive, they are heavier than plastic. The best watering cans are well balanced, with a carrying handle on top and a steadying handle at the back of the can. The can should have a long spout. You can buy watering cans in a range of sizes, holding anything from % pint to 3 gallons. The largest will probably be uncomfortably hcaw for most people when full, so choose a size that is comfortable for you. A can should pour easily, as soon as it is tilted. Watering cans usually come with a rose (a perfo­rated nozzle) for spraying water evenly and lightly.

Garden hoses

For more distant parts of the garden, or to supply water over a large area, you will need a garden hose, with some kind of spray nozzle. Make sure you buy one that is long enough to reach the farthest corners of the garden (although hoses can be joined together with suitable couplings).

These days, most garden hoses are made from PVC, with various finishes to prevent the pipe from kinking. Double-walled, reinforced hoses are the most resis­tant to kinking, but they are expen­sive. It is a good idea to buy a reel, so that the hose runs out easily and docs not tangle.

Various nozzles are available, including lances and pistols, which direct a fine or coarse jet of water over a distance. Sprinklers can be attached to create a fine “shower” over a wide area: you can buy oscillating, rotary, or static types that direct the water in different ways.

Automatic watering systems

For easier watering, you can install a soaker hose or irrigation system. There are many different kinds on the market, ranging from the simplest “leaky hose” version, in which irregularly spaced holes deliver water randomly along the length of the hose, to more sophisticated versions with valves, automatic moisture sensors, and timing devices. These will do your watering for you when you are not at home.

The fine nozzles of some auto­matic watering systems may clog with soil, however. To avoid wasting such a precious resource, position the system carefully as you need the water delivered close to the base of the plant.

Spraying equipment

keep a separate set of spraying equipment for handling chemi­cals. You can buy everything from small hand-held sprayers with a trigger mechanism, holding as little as ‘A pint, lo knapsack, sprayers with a compression pump that hold large quantities.

Using a sprayer You must only spray chemicals on windless days and ideally after all beneficial insects have retired for the night. Wear protective clothing, and if your skin comes into contact with any of the chemicals, wash it thoroughly.

Watering containers and pots Seedlings and plants growing in containers require frequent watering, especially during the warm summer months.

Selective spraying (above) A small hand-held sprayer is ideal for small plants, or/or spraying a small area of a larger specimen.

USING A SPRAYER

Spraying is one of those mainstay operations that have been an essential part of gardening for generations.

Even with the shift in emphasis back toward organic gardening, many of the materials used to help control pests and diseases are still applied as foliar sprays. It is important to clean the sprayer before use by flushing it through

with clean water, and after use by flushing it through with a detergent solution, followed by clean water.

1 Start l)v measuring out the correct amount of chemical concentrate. Wear protective clothing, including goggles and disposable gloves.

2 Next, half-fill the sprayer tank with clean water before adding the measured amount of chemical concentrate to the tank.

3 Add the rest of the water until the water/chemical level is up to the required mark on the tank. Using a clean stirrer, stir the contents to ensure they are mixed thoroughly.

4 Finally, seal the spray tank and pump it up to the correct pressure, before spraying the plants. Never spray plants in windy conditions.

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