Godzilla Zukes versus Tiny Tomatoes

Watering cans plastic
Hand watering seems romantic in the spring. The romance wears off by July.

Post written by Peter

Mmm. Sundried tomatoes. Concentrated yumminess that tasted so good in our pasta salad. We grew ‘em, harvested ‘em, froze ‘em and a year later, ate ‘em. In between, we watered them and then, via drying, de-watered them.

It seems a little silly to take water out of something you put water into, but if you don’t get the water into them when they need it, you won’t have anything to take water out of later. If you put a greenhouse roof over tomatoes, you better get the water into them that the roof is keeping out.

I got water into them one warm morning in early July. After a lengthy and jumbled episode of sweatily hoisting hoses, and painstakingly pouring pails of water, I resolved that a little water automation would go a long way to reducing Erin’s workload. And mine.

The question was: how to automate? I already collected water off of the greenhouse roof. While it was enough to use on a few potted plants periodically, they barely survived the unpredictability of the precipitation. And a greenhouse is just a big pot topped with a moisture exclusion membrane.

I could hook up a huge, hose-fed, raised reservoir that would feed the greenhouse via gravity. But the amount of resulting water pressure would be lacking. Unless, of course, I put the reservoir on a tower, which seemed expensive, sweaty, and vaguely medieval. Of more concern was simple physics: the plants closest to the reservoir would get more water than those further along the line. Because of the particular planting scheme Erin chose, we could end up with Godzilla zucchinis, shriveled cucumbers, and premature sun-dried tomatoes. Unyummy ones.

Newly planted cucumbers in the hoop house
Newly planted cucumbers in the hoop house need a lot of water.

It was time to dip into the reservoir of modern watering technology. We could use a pressurized water line stretching all the way from our hoop house to our well. From there, we could install an irrigation kit. A perusal of catalogues and the internet led to a migraine-inducing miasma of options. And nobody local sells pre-assembled kits. But I could get one in southern Ontario during my upcoming visit with my extended family. In a catalogue, Erin and I chose the kit that made the most sense as well as some additional pieces to fit our situation. I called the store. The store said they would have our order ready for pick-up. Perfect.