Drip irrigation systems offer a beautifully simple alternative to traditional methods of garden watering. Traditional garden watering methods are notoriously wasteful, shedding far more water into useless puddles than actually gets anywhere near the plants it is supposed to be feeding. Using the modern technology made available by the drip irrigation technique, a gardener can save him or her self time and money - while doing his or her bit for the planet, too.
So what are drip irrigation systems? Well, simply put, they are arrangements of thin tubes that carry single droplets of water right to the roots of the plants that need feeding. So far, so good - but how does a single drop of water do as much work as the four gallons previously dispensed through hose pipes and watering cans?
Simple. Hosepipes and watering cans might well dispense four gallons of water in a single session - but only a few drops from those gallons ever do any plant feeding. Think about rain for a moment - and the ways in which plants collect rainwater. Rain falls everywhere, when the heavens open - covering an area of the world in hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water. Yet the plants that live under it - the ones we are now feeding with drip irrigation systems - have had to evolve hideously complicated techniques for catching just those few precious drops that actually make the difference. Anyone who has ever seen slow motion footage of plant collecting water can attest to this. The plant funnels a couple of lucky drops of rain into its catchment area, usually with its leaves. The water then runs down a stalk and into the ground, where it is sucked up by the root system.
Drip irrigation systems do exactly the same thing without all the tedious messing around that plants have to go through. Those precious few drops of water are delivered - from a normal garden tap, connected to this array of small tubes - directly to the roots. The plant grows. In the space of a year, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water can be saved. Certainly way more than by imposing hosepipe bans, or trying to watch one's water consumption. This is super high tech plant feeding - garden watering for the 21st century.
Drip irrigation systems aren't expensive, at all, and can be fitted by anyone. They run off of a normal garden tap and can be as simple to control as turning that tap on. It's also possible to purchase control panels for them - which means multiple watering programmes can be automated. That, in turn, means that the drip irrigated garden can have specially directed amounts of water (the correct amount of water for each, at the right frequency) delivered to different areas, with no effort and no waste.
That's the kind of gardening that makes perfect sense, in a resource-poor world constantly worried about its impact on the environment. And for very little outlay, the technology can belong to any gardener, amateur or no. It's time to change the way watering happens - and drip irrigation systems are definitely the way to do it.