As you build or set up your greenhouse, one important item to include is a water system of some kind. It is much easier to install faucets and drains before building begins, rather than trying to find a watering solution later. Regardless of the type of watering system you use, you should have a floor that drains well. Puddles are unsanitary and dangerous.
There are several types of watering systems that work well in a greenhouse. Each one has specific benefits or weaknesses, so you should explore the options before investing in a watering system.
Hand watering can be both easy and effective, since you can deliver water directly where needed. With a watering can, or hose and nozzle, you can deliver a flow of water anywhere from a fine mist to a high volume. A watering wand is needed for high-hanging plants and baskets.
Drip irrigation systems have many strengths. They conserve water, since flow is regulated and timed. Their weakness is the possibility of the individual nozzles or drippers clogging. There are many systems on the market, and they are very easy to put together. These systems consist of many small tubes branching from a pvc pipe, each one delivering water to an individual plant or container. The whole system can be connected to sensors and timers for an automated system.
If you have a greenhouse with beds along the walls, then a perforated or drip hose may work well. These hoses have tiny holes that allow water to ooze out slowly. The hose is simply laid along plants rows in the bed, and can be connected to a timer for interval watering.
Mat watering is a good system if you have many plants in various sized pots. A thick mat is placed over poly on the bench, and one end is set into a gutter filled with water. Capillary action keeps the mat wet, and the plant pots, with large perforations on the bottom, take up the water in the same way. Many garden suppliers carry these mats. Their downside is they will eventually clog with algae.
Misting is an efficient way to keep seedlings moist. A pipe with fine nozzles can be set up over a row of plants or seedling trays. This is an efficient way to keep cuttings moist that you are propagating. It also helps maintain humidity, since some of the fine spray will evaporate. In turn, this cools the temperature inside the greenhouse.
Misting is not a good way to water large plants, since constantly wet foliage encourages mold, and the root systems do not get the needed deep watering. Misting systems can be set up with electronic timers, programmed to mist throughout the day at set times and for set periods.
As you research watering systems in detail, you may find that a combination of systems will be needed, depending on how you intend to use your greenhouse. Watering can be a time consuming job in the greenhouse, and the health of your plants depends on it. Regardless of which system or systems you use, keep a close watch on your plants, and be aware of their water needs at all times.
Gardening expert Nicki Goff offers a free e-mail starter course all about her main passion… herb gardening. Visit her website for access, and even more great tips in her new comprehensive e-book on creating, maintaining and enjoying your own home herb garden, along with bonus e-books on specific aspects of herb lore. Look for more gardening tips, links and articles on her gardening blog.
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