Author Topic: Grow bag waterer  (Read 6653 times)

Paulines7

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Grow bag waterer
« on: February 25, 2016, 17:24:37 »
I am looking for different ways of keeping my greenhouse plants watered when I am away on holiday.  I will have tomato, cucumber and chilli plants which will be in a selection of grow bags, tomato grow pots and large pots. 

Has anyone used any of the Hozelock grow bag watering kits please and if so, do they work?   It says that they can keep a grow bag watered for up to 14 days.  Presumably the length of time would depend on the temperature.  This is the model here: http://www.charliesdirect.co.uk/hozelock-2810-grow-bag-waterer 

Another alternative is to have a drip irrigation system.  Would it need to be on a timer though.  If they were on all the time, would the grow bags and pots get too wet?  We are going to buy a pump so we can use water from the butts. 

The other alternative is to use a drip hose on a timer, which is what I have done in the past.  I have a lot of problems with this method though.  The timers don't last very long and every year I am having to fork out for more.  The hose that I have is very stiff and therefore not flexible enough to have where I want it.  I had to hold it on the grow bags with lots of pegs and it still kept coming off.  In the end I tied a sprinkler type hose to wires above the plants.  The spray was all right for some of the plants but others hardly got wet at all. 

I really want to sort something out early this year as in the past it has been a rushed job just before going away and not been very successful.


Redalder

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2016, 09:17:44 »
We have an Irrigatia  solar battery operated watering system which draws water from the butt attached to the guttering which we use if we are away for more than a few days. It comes with a tubing and water delivery drip thingys.   Each plant in the growbag has a "dripper" on a peg  next to it and a controller can be set for the level of watering required as the plants grow. It also switches itself on more or less frequently depending on the level of sunshine. Needs dismantling in the winter in case of frost damage but easily done when cleaning out in the autumn and means it can be remantled to suit each years set up.

 

Paulines7

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2016, 11:27:19 »
Thanks Redalder.  I have looked up the system but need to think about it, especially as it is solar powered and we don't normally have much luck with solar things.  It certainly is worth considering though.

ACE

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2016, 11:58:45 »
I just got a trickle hose from the pound shop and fixed it to one of these, no more than a minute a day if fixed to a garden tap, but you will have to have a trial run with a gravity fed water butt. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004HKV1EI?keywords=water%20timer&qid=1456487603&ref_=sr_1_2&s=outdoors&sr=1-2

MervF

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2016, 18:52:50 »
I bought one of these Hozelock growbag waterers last year and it was absolutely brilliant.   We went away for two one week holidays and I believe the water level when we returned was just under half full but it will obviously depend on how hot the weather is.   I bought some of these to use in the growbag and would also water in those once a week.   We certainly had a good crop last year.

MervF

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2016, 18:57:47 »
I forgot to put the link to the growpots I bought for the growbag - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B007VOG962?refRID=JA1KMG58QVNQA9SX2VFT&ref_=pd_bia_yo_t_7

Vinlander

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2016, 19:30:29 »
I just got a trickle hose from the pound shop and fixed it to one of these, no more than a minute a day if fixed to a garden tap, but you will have to have a trial run with a gravity fed water butt. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004HKV1EI?keywords=water%20timer&qid=1456487603&ref_=sr_1_2&s=outdoors&sr=1-2

I should warn you that if you have hard water a trickle hose can become a concrete composite hose in less than a season - maybe much less than a season depending on the hardness of the water and how you provide it.

If it is being fed continuously with water under pressure then it flows constantly and the limescale will mostly crystallise in the soil, but if you provide intermittent water pressure then much of it will clog the hose, which slows the flow so it clogs even more etc.etc.

If you use a rainwater butt exclusively then that solves one problem but opens the door to algae and other microscopic pond life - all blocking agents (total darkness helps - black butt, black lid, black pipes). 

Adjustable drippers are available cheaply anywhere except the UK (British gardeners as a group, sadly, contain a huge number of fashion-victims that spoil the market for the rest of us).

They* still need to be tweaked occasionally when they clog (*the victims even more so). The ones that work like a biro by pushing a ball against their outlet will only need prodding - even less frequently - but they are ridiculously expensive.

Basically if the area is small it's a lot easier to use capillary matting over a tray/trough which in turn has a self-regulating supply - either ballcock on the mains or "budgie waterer".

Cheers.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Paulines7

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2016, 13:41:41 »
I have sent off for 6 Hozelock grow bag waterers from Wigley DIY.  http://www.wigleydiy.co.uk/store/product/48126/Hozelock-2810-Growbag-Waterer/

We are going to use 3 of them on the strawberry plants and the others will be in the greenhouse for a trial on tomato plants, cues and chillies.  If they are successful, we may buy some more or see if we can make something similar using black storage boxes. 

We have also got a Gardena watering system that we picked up in a sale last year.  It will go into one of the joined water butts beside the summerhouse and drip feed to some azaleas and blueberry plants that I have in pots.   

I like the Irrigatia solar system as I could use the water in the butts next to the greenhouse to water quite a few of my plants inside it.  OH doesn't want solar though and I am still trying to persuade him.  We have had solar mole scarers and lights that have all packed up working in the past.   

Vinlander

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2016, 14:04:42 »
I have sent off for 6 Hozelock grow bag waterers from Wigley DIY.  http://www.wigleydiy.co.uk/store/product/48126/Hozelock-2810-Growbag-Waterer/

16 quid isn't an unreasonable price for the amount of work that's gone into it - but I get the same effect by tucking strips of capillary matting into the bag and supporting it over a trough of water made from black plastic over old 4x2s - it takes 5 minutes to set up and you can make the trough slightly longer which makes space to stand a "budgie waterer" bottle for when you're away.

Also if I do accidentally step on it (or fall on it after too much 'Scottish mouthwash'), it won't break.

At some point I'll take some photos to show how easy this is (the construction not the inebriation) - but I'm a bit busy at the moment setting up heat & light for my tender seedlings. I should be able to put something in 'Top Tips' in maybe 3-4 weeks - certainly before the last frosts.

Cheers.

PS. You've invested in a good solution - so make sure it lasts by keeping the sun off the plastic - cover every exposed corner or exposed widget with something completely opaque that won't get blown off.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Paulines7

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2016, 16:01:50 »
...... I get the same effect by tucking strips of capillary matting into the bag and supporting it over a trough of water made from black plastic over old 4x2s - it takes 5 minutes to set up and you can make the trough slightly longer which makes space to stand a "budgie waterer" bottle for when you're away.

Yes, that's what we want to do for the other growbags, but so far I haven't found any reasonably priced black boxes. They are almost as expensive as the Hozelock grow bag waterers!  I had to Google "budgie waterer" as I didn't know what you meant.  It came up with lots of different types of water drinkers for budgies.  What type do you have and how do you fix it please?  I must admit that I can't see what the budgie waterer does.

At some point I'll take some photos to show how easy this is (the construction not the inebriation) - but I'm a bit busy at the moment setting up heat & light for my tender seedlings. I should be able to put something in 'Top Tips' in maybe 3-4 weeks - certainly before the last frosts.

Cheers.

PS. You've invested in a good solution - so make sure it lasts by keeping the sun off the plastic - cover every exposed corner or exposed widget with something completely opaque that won't get blown off.


Vinlander, I look forward to seeing photos of your set up when you have time to spare.  Thank you for your helpful advice.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 16:03:48 by Paulines7 »

Vinlander

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2016, 13:10:28 »
It isn't really necessary to search for an ideal trough when they are so easy to make exactly the size you need- and if you have a flat surface you don't even need nails.
Cut 2 lengths of fence post (or  4x2) - about 20cm longer than a growbag (or 2 bags if you have a long space - like a path). Put a brick or two between them at each end and you have a trough long enough and wide enough to rest a growbag on (though the actual water will only be half as wide, the wide "walls" are the perfect support) it just needs waterproofing with thick polythene liner  (damp-proof/vapour barrier). The weight of the water will make the liner mould itself to the trough. You may need to push the liner down at the end to make a flat bottom where the budgie waterer will sit. I advise buying a 5L mineral- water bottle - they are a good fit.

If you search "under glass" for "budgie" you will find some earlier posts on the subject.

You will need 2 or 3 pieces 20cm or so  long of 5cm wide capillary matting hanging below the bag so they can dip in the water - but it will be so damp under there they won't dry out.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2016, 13:22:33 by Vinlander »
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Vinlander

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2016, 13:57:26 »
Just a quick update - & stuff I left outů

Soon after making the trough & budgie waterer system above I decided to move to cutting the growbags in half and using them vertically with the bottom edge across the trough. This meant I could crowd a lot more plants on the trough, but I angled the canes to a fan to compensate a bit.

It also made the capillary link more critical - especially as the bottoms of the bags were no longer flat.

I found that a piece of mat 25cm x 3cm could be threaded through the bottom of the bag, and by choosing the right distance from the seam I could get it so maybe 5-7cm ran through the compost with 10cm dangling either side into the water.

This proved to be enough, and the depth of the bag helped a better root system because the deeper levels were less prone to drying out (which also kept the capillary from drying and thereby failing).

I never went back to flat bags. The deeper bags meant more water in them when I went on holiday - to the point where the same 5L bottle per 2m of (well topped up) trough kept them comfortable until I returned or even longer - over 3 weeks was possible in normal summers.

I did need to make sure the trough ran to within 3cm of the ends or I'd have a dead space where the end bag wasn't over water - but that just meant using half bricks between the sides instead of full bricks.

Cheers.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Hector

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2016, 14:06:22 »
That's very interesting. What capillary matting did you use. I was a bit put off as a friends went mouldy looking in her greenhouse.
Jackie

lottie lou

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2016, 22:02:53 »
Thank you Vinlander.  I have suddenly understood how your budgie waterer works.  The plants are ABOVE the water container.  Sorry I couldn't fully understand your original explanation.

May

Paulines7

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2016, 10:01:14 »
Vinlander, thanks for your explanation on how to make a trough.  With a water reservoir beneath the grow bag and capilliary matting going from the storage water into the growbag, why is a budgie waterer necessary please? If the trough is deep enough, will it not hold water for a couple of weeks?

SMP1704

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2016, 13:32:29 »
Another vote for the Hozelock growbag containers - I can leave the tomatoes in the polytunnel for a week without needing to water in mid-summer.

Vinlander

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2016, 11:55:28 »
Thank you Vinlander.  I have suddenly understood how your budgie waterer works.  The plants are ABOVE the water container.  Sorry I couldn't fully understand your original explanation.

May

Sorry I haven't got around to those photos yet - had a  bruised rib and bad cough combo (unrelated incidents) that's stopped me getting proper sleep for 4 days. I'll try and do something today.

The plants are on the matting platform above the water level in the trough. The opening of the upside down bottle is below the water level. All of the water in the bottle is above the water level - until it runs out.

That's very interesting. What capillary matting did you use. I was a bit put off as a friends went mouldy looking in her greenhouse.

I mostly use the black stuff that doesn't show mould - it gets a lot less algae because the light-loving algae can't run riot deep inside the mat.

Either way it's more or less essential to put a porous non-woven fabric over the mat before you put the plants on. This stops roots invading it - so when you remove seedlings for transplanting they peel off much more cleanly with less damage and less setback. The cheapest, thinnest grade of black weed-suppressing felty stuff works very well indeed and will also hide unsightly stains on white mats.

If the trough is deep enough, will it not hold water for a couple of weeks?

I'm too lazy to make a deep trough when one 100mm deep made with fenceposts or 4x2s is adequate for 50 weeks of the year. The budgie waterer is a belt & braces approach just for holidays - especially "Murphy's law" holidays where it's a record summer at home while you're away.

It also has the advantage of being a highly visible water meter - if there's water in the bottle when you get back the trough is still OK and you can turn-in to recover from the journey or holiday or both...

Cheers.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Hector

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2016, 17:42:31 »
Thank you very much. I was looking at this stuff to go over the matting but will now investifgate the felty stuff ;)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nutleys-1-2-Micro-Perforated-Poly-Film/dp/B009YSZ4Q4/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
Jackie

Vinlander

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2016, 16:24:25 »
I have put 2 posts into a new thread:= Top Tips>>Self-regulating capillary mat watering (with budgie waterer).

One holds photos of an indoor trough system, the other holds photos of a 5L budgie waterer working in a small tray 'trough' so hopefully you can see how it works.

You may not believe it until you make one but you can demonstrate the principle by upending a bottle full of water in a bowl with a few cm of water - the water won't come out of the bottle until you lift it so the mouth of the bottle comes out of the water in the bowl. Then you will see the air go in as the water comes out.

Cheers.

PS. I will do the outdoor trough system later - maybe tomorrow - it is my tomato system so I don't normally refurbish it until the frosts are past.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Paulines7

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Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2016, 10:56:15 »
Vinlander's posts are here: http://www.allotments4all.co.uk/smf/index.php/topic,80027.0.html

I have also put instructions on his new thread on how I have made my own self watering system using polystyrene boxes. 

Allotments 4 All

Re: Grow bag waterer
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2016, 10:56:15 »