Fundamentals of GardenWells and the magic of sub-irrigation.
The biggest advantage of GardenWells, is the reduced water consumption and maintenance simplification.
This is all achieved by watering from the bottom up.
Most irrigation techniques like sprinklers, or drip irrigation are designed to mimic rain. With GardenWells you water directly to a hidden reservoir beneath the soil and mimic the consistency of the natural water tables found in all the worlds most bountiful growing environments.
Water the way nature prefers, results are amazing.
How often will you have to fill the GardenWell reservoir?
It's a good idea to make reservoir checks part of your weekly routine. Often your reservoir will still be quite full, but if your visiting your garden weekly, you'll also be able to do all the harvesting, pruning and maintenance that also play a part in your garden's success.
Throughout the year though, there is going to be some variation. Rain, sun, and where your plants are at during their growth cycle all factor in to how frequent you'll have to water. For example, during July and Aug if you get a heat wave while the tomatoes, cucumbers and other heavily fruiting plants are growing in size, you may find the need to water more than once a week.
In Vancouver, our approximate watering schedule over the last 8 years has been:
- once in April,
- once in May,
- 2 times in June,
- Weekly in July,
- Weekly in Aug,
- 1-2 times in Sept.
- For 12-14 times total per year
Here's a great comparison chart that helps contextualize some watering expectations correlated with weather forecast. It's not perfect, but it gives your a great idea of how frequently you'll be filling your GardenWells reservoir, and how GardenWells stack up to over types gardens and irrigation:
|0-1x per month
|3-4x per month
|4x per month
|5x per month
|6-8x per month
|2x per month
|4x per month
|5-6x per month
|10-12x per month
|20-30x per month
The Top Water Exceptions
- When first installing your soil, make sure that it is thoroughly moist to kick off the capillary action. Dry soil is hydrophobic; meaning it doesn't want to get wet. Think about a sponge, a moist sponge just soaks up everything, whereas a dry sponge just kind of smears liquid around. Make your soil moist like a sponge to kick off the wicking magic!
- Planting/Starting from seed. You need to make sure your plants have time to establish their root systems. If unmulched, it's very normal for the top 2-3 inches of soil to dry out a wicking bed / SIP Garden, so you have to make sure you're plants root systems are thoroughly established down into the wicking zone. So ensure the top of the soil stays moist for at least 1 week after planting established seedlings, and for at least 2 weeks after your seeds sprout and form their first set of true leaves.
- If your reservoir ever dries out entirely, thoroughly water from the top to turn it into that moist sponge again!