Using Bottles For Inexpensive Water Saving Irrigation Yet Achieving Maximum Yield


This is an entry in the 2014 Aug./Sept. writing contest with a combined prize value of over $1066.   Be sure to rate this article – your vote is important!  Gideon, and 81 year old pensioner from South Africa sent this one in.

My plan is an alternative to underground irrigation, which I cannot afford.

Using bottle irrigation for Onion Seedlings_opt (2)

Bottle Irrigation for Onion Seedlings

I punch a tiny hole in the bottom of a 5 liter plastic water bottle, bury it about 1/4 to 1/3 in the soil and plant the seedlings out, each in close proximity to a bottle, as shown on my photo.

Take care: that hole in the bottom of the bottle must be real tiny, otherwise the water will leak out too rapidly. I made the mistake of making several 2mm holes in each bottle, but the bottle drained empty almost as soon as I had filled it. Eventually I found the ideal size of the (ONE) hole to be that of a thick needle. It takes about 45-60 minutes to drain into the underground soil.

Onions Growning in a bed

Onions growing!

Initially I water the young seedlings as usual also, as on the photo of the lettuce (and of course this goes for all the others e.g. pumpkins, watermelons, tomatoes, etc.). When I consider that the roots are well-established, I only fill the bottles every second day or so – depending on the weather, rain etc.

Onions Harvested gib ones with Gideon holding them

Gideon harvesting big onions

My method of watering: Starting at one end of the garden, while the one bottle is filling (from the garden hose, of course) I uncap the next bottle to be filled. When I transfer the hose to the next bottle, I replace the cap of the previous one and uncap the next one to be filled. And so I continue throughout the garden. But do take care: Do not cap the filled bottles tightly, because it needs some air in order to drain. Cap the filled bottle very lightly, because if you leave the cap off, snails and other insects will enter the open bottle and eventually block your draining hole.

Radishes big ones in hand

Big radishes Gideon grew

To leave the garden hose filling the bottle while I cap and uncap the others, I have found it handy to have a normal fitting which normally connect the hose to a tap, at the open end of the hose filling the bottle. This prevents the hose from (annoyingly) slipping out of the bottle being filled.

Giant Cabbage the Gideon grew

Look at that cabbage

I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I can now water my whole vegetable garden. Comparing this with how I previously spent precious time (and water!), I realized that I am saving lots of water. I do not have an all wet garden surface, from which much water evaporates into the air.

As a further bonus, after I have started this method of watering, I have had bumper sized crops. To boost even this, I plan to “plant” my bottles on top of a good application of worm compost – a hobby (compost worms) that I have recently started.

This is an entry in the Aug./Sept. 2014 [Grow] writing contest with over $1,066 in combined prizes.  Please be sure to rate this article your vote counts!      

Winner’s Prizes (be sure to support our sponsors):

  1. a copy of the “Grow Your Own Groceries” DVD video set, $42 value
  2. a copy of the “Alternatives To Dentists”  DVD video,  $32 value
  3.  a year of free membership in the Core Community, $120 value
  4. a complete Royal Berkey Water Filter System, $240 value
  5. a Bug Out Seed kit from the Sustainable Seed Co,  $40 value
  6. the complete “The Summer of Survival” interview series, a $97 value
  7. the complete “2014 Grow Your Own Food Summit” interview series, a $47 value
  8. a 14 day organic food supply, herbal first-aid kit, and more from Ener Health, a $240 value

One winner and two honorable mention’s selected from the top three contributed entries.  Click here for full contest rules and to enter your article!


(Visited 476 times, 1 visits today)
Tags: ,

Categorised in: , , ,

This post was written by


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.