Best way to haul water to a nearby vegetable garden
April 29, 2010 7:43 AM   Subscribe

I have a community garden plot and it's around the corner from my house! Yay! Apart from a shared rain barrel, there's no water available AT the garden site! Booo! What's the best/easiest/cheapest way for me to get water from my apartment to my plants?

Here is all the relevant info I can think of:
  • I live in a relatively damp climate, so I'll probably need to water twice a week at most.
  • The plot is approx. 8 x 11 feet, so we're not talking about a huge area.
  • There is a small dolly available for various hauling projects. I might be able to borrow it to wheel containers across the street. However, I still have to get the containers out the door of my apt. and up a small hill, and I'm no Hulk - 4 gallons is about my limit.
  • Once I get the big container to the garden, I'm gonna need to get the water out of it and onto the soil. I can't just dump the whole thing onto the garden. Most commercial watering cans are built to be filled via hose and not via 5-gal. bucket. Of course I can dip out the water a cup at a time, but is there a better way to get a gentle stream/trickle? Siphon? I have access to some basic tools and I have the skills to hack something un-pretty but usable together...
  • Solutions utilizing readily-available, cheap/free, repurposed items preferred!

I'm open to any ideas you might have. Lay 'em on me!
posted by Knicke to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about rolling it there?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:50 AM on April 29, 2010

H2Go Bag

and perhaps a folding wheelbarrow
posted by caddis at 8:01 AM on April 29, 2010

For distribution once you're there, you could try making a pump like this one and connecting a length of tubing. Or, just grab an old yogurt cup and dump single-serving portions of water at the base of each plant like Mel Bartholomew suggests.
posted by jon1270 at 8:02 AM on April 29, 2010

Can you use one of these rollablewater containers?
If you took the stand with you, you could put it on the stand and fill your watering can from that.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 8:02 AM on April 29, 2010

Hipporoller was going to be my suggestion. As for water dispersal, you could buy a pump sprayer - except fill it with water and not pesticide of course.
posted by Think_Long at 8:03 AM on April 29, 2010

Balancing carrying pole? Just a slightly flexible stick with notches at each end for the handles of the buckets.
posted by Valet at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2010

Two 2-3 gallon buckets would be easier to carry than a 4 gallon bucket. I watered using a pitcher to no ill effect.

Nthing getting a small pump sprayer (my little one is a half-gallon) if you're growing anything that will need spraying against aphids or powdery mildew, etc. Man, I love that thing.
posted by desuetude at 8:14 AM on April 29, 2010

If you really wanted simple and cheap, recycle gallon milk jugs. Have at least one extra lid and punch some holes in it. When you get the jugs to their destination, switch to the lid with holes punched in it and water. I'm not sure how suited the cart you have access to is to carrying multiple gallon jugs instead of one five-gallon bucket, though.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:44 AM on April 29, 2010

Is this Morningside community garden? We must live practically next door to each other (though your profile claims you live on the Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan border). I see people wheelbarrowing gallon milk jugs to Morningside pretty regularly.
posted by gleuschk at 8:59 AM on April 29, 2010

Maybe this is hearsay, but I don't actually water when I garden. It rains or it doesn't; and it works fine. I live in New England, so it's not like it's super-rainy. Sometimes there are dry spells in the summer, and things get wilty and sad but I've never had anything actually die unless it was a very young plant that preferred cooler situations; so I've lost little tufts of romaine in August but that's about it.

The only time you really want to watch is when you first plant, I generally try to walk around with a watering can, and for carrots -- carrots are fussy and take a long time to germinate. They like it cool and wet. So if you plant carrots, you can water them and lie a 2x4 or something over them for 7 to 10 days to keep them damp, then take the board off.

So I would get a watering can that I can fill at the bathtub with a cap so I don't spill all the way down the sidewalk, and focus solely on seeds and most especially, carrots. And I'd be careful of the opening on the watering can so I didn't buy one like mine, which is a pain to fill because the opening at the top is so small.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:40 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

As for distribution, I plan to make a simple drip irrigation system in my community garden plot. Parts can be found at Home Depot for about $20. I may not use the drip nozzles as they are designed for higher pressure. I might make my own just by drilling a hole in an end cap. They come with parts and those attach to fittings for a hose. I plan on using a small rain barrel as a reservoir as these usually have standard garden hose fittings. I can fill the reservoir with a hose. If you are carrying multi-gallon containers of water it would make filling the reservoir difficult unless the reservoir were below the level of your wheelbarrow. In that case I would leave the drip lines completely open. Or you could just use a large watering can. In any event, water the ground, not the plants. Wet plants are more susceptible to fungus.
posted by caddis at 9:45 AM on April 29, 2010

How far away is 'around the corner'?. Could you run a hose line to the garden? Either above ground or buried a but under. Could you meet the closest neighbor to the garden and ask to use their hose?

It doesn't need to be a full hose, but can rather be a long drip line. You would just need to check it for leaks every now and then.
posted by Vaike at 9:57 AM on April 29, 2010

*a bit under
posted by Vaike at 9:58 AM on April 29, 2010

Is there no way to get a second rain barrel, or a larger one, if this one is running short?
posted by dhartung at 11:09 AM on April 29, 2010

Is there a business nearby who might be talked into letting your garden use his hose? Calculate the amount of water likely to be needed and offer to pay him for the increase in his bill.
posted by CathyG at 11:19 AM on April 29, 2010

Thanks all for your input so far.

Using hoses etc. from other houses and businesses is not really an option; not a lot of outside faucets in my neighbor hood, and 2 sides of the garden are parking lot/fence anyway.

Those rolling containers are neat, but out of my price range, and I can't roll them down my porch stairs, so...not this time.

A second rain barrel might be an option; that's really up to the garden leadership, though. I'll suggest it to them.

gleuschk, hahaha! Thanks for the heads-up on the coordinate problem. I'm actually in the Hawley-Green neighborhood.

caddis, the drip irrigation set-up is intriguing. Are you just using plastic tubing, or some other material?
posted by Knicke at 1:23 PM on April 29, 2010

It's plastic tubing of small diameter and it comes with fittings such as tees, elbows, hold-down spikes etc. I found it in the underground sprinkler area of Home Depot and I think the brand is Toro. has something similar but it was much more expensive.
posted by caddis at 2:51 PM on April 29, 2010

Here is a basic tutorial on running a drip irrigation system by gravity. Honestly, in the situation you describe, where you are hauling water anyway, I can't see any advantage to the expense and fuss of setting up a drip system -- the work is in the carrying, not the pouring.
posted by Forktine at 2:58 PM on April 29, 2010

I don't understand why you need to water, aside from new plantings like A Terrible Llama said. Do other community members also have this problem? Multiple other members of your community garden have gardened there sometimes for years. Ask them for their solutions. Each garden is unique; this one seems to do well with only a shared rain barrel. Perhaps the lake effect rain is enough.

However if other communtiy members also feel that lack of water is a problem than perhaps you could join with them in creating a solution for the garden that benefits all members.
posted by GregorWill at 3:08 PM on April 29, 2010

If you have to get your water inside and walk with it I would think putting it on your back would be the easiest. A four gallon backpack sprayer would both allow you to carry and distribute the water.

The organizers of the garden should probably approach a local business with a water faucet to provide water to the community garden. In our community many local businesses have contributed for the cheap advertising and goodwill they get.
posted by caddis at 3:17 PM on April 29, 2010

These Chinese pattern cans will hold somewhere around 18l of water (~40 pounds) and are supposed to work really well though I've never actually tried them. A pair of cans on a yoke is about as much as you'd want to carry though you could fit several in a wheel barrow or wagon.

Just for hauling the water plastic 19L (uh, a bit better than 4 gallons) water jugs (water cooler style) are pretty cheap and the lids are reusable. A lot less fiddly than milk jugs. Or collapsible camping water jugs can be had for $6-9, hold 5 gallons and come with a closable spout. Either doesn't have to be completely filled depending on your carrying ability.
posted by Mitheral at 9:55 AM on April 30, 2010

Update: that folding wheelbarrow in my first comment is only for really short people, like three feet tall. Otherwise you have to essentially bend over while you walk to prevent stuff from falling out of the front. If you have nothing else I suppose it would suffice, but one could do better. It sure looked nice in the catalog.
posted by caddis at 7:36 AM on May 7, 2010

« Older Asking MetaFilter Ladies (and romantic gents):...   |   What's the deal with e-cigarettes anyway?... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.