Small, they say, is beautiful. Maybe. What small certainly is, is less wasteful than big – particularly where garden watering is concerned. In fact, where garden watering is concerned small definitely is beautiful: and not just beautiful but downright spectacular. There’s a whole different world of garden irrigation out there, based on the simplest idea in the world, which is saving money, water and space in equally enormous quantities. It’s called micro irrigation, it costs practically nothing to implement, and it could, if used by every garden in the country, potentially save enough water to serve an entire city for months on end.
How is this possible? Through a simple recognition of scale. In this case, a scale that compares the amount of water actually used by plants to grow, against the amount of water that falls on them during a rain shower or “watering incident” – which is a posh scientific way of saying, when someone turns on a hose or dumps a watering can over a flower bed. That, for want of a better description, would be macro irrigation: chucking as much water as possible at a group of plants in the hope that they’ll manage to catch enough of it to grow. Micro irrigation works from the other end of the same principle, achieving a perspective flip on that scale of used water by only dispensing that tiny fraction of all this water that plants actually use.
How’s that then? It’s simple enough to understand that if one dumps, say, six gallons of water all over a garden only a tiny proportion of that will ever find its way into the roots and leaves of the plants. But how can one only dispense that minute fraction? Surely that would just mean that an equally minute fraction of the minute fraction would get used – which, in turn, would mean one very dead garden.
If micro irrigation worked from the sky down, as it were, then yes, that would be the case. Remember, though, that the new watering is all about flipping the whole perspective of garden irrigation – from sky down, to ground up. That’s how micro watering systems work. Rather than dumping gallons and gallons of water out of the sky onto the plants in a garden, micro watering systems place water, very deliberately, into the ground at the exact points where it is going to get used.
How? How can a watering system (and a cheap one ) be so effective that it doesn’t need all the attrition associated with the normal “carpet bombing” approach to garden watering? Simple. Remember we said this was all based on an easy idea? Well, try this on for size. Micro irrigation uses the childishly clever idea of running tiny pipes right up to the roots of each plant in the garden, and dropping (literally – the water comes out in drops) water right where it’s needed. Easy, when you know how. All that waste, gone – and only the good stuff remaining. If everyone did that, we’d never have a water shortage again.