Look after your plants even when you are away

So you are off on a weekend break. You can take your dog with you, but what about your precious potted plants? It’s heartbreaking to come back and find your roses dead and your crotons withering.

How can you ensure that potted plants get watered even during those days when nobody is at home? Well, help is at hand. S.S. Radhakrishnan, founder president of Good Governance Guards, a passionate gardener and an avid promoter of urban farming, has fashioned an ingenious drip irrigating contraption from that most commonplace and ubiquitous of objects, a plastic bottle. It is an idea that anybody can easily set up over their potted plant in a few minutes.

All it takes is a used plastic bottle, a small stone and a string of cotton stitching thread. Double up the thread and tie one end of it around the stone. Fill the bottle with water up to its neck. Now place the stone end of the thread at the bottom of the bottle, like an anchor, and lead the other end of the thread out of the bottle, leaving two to three inches of thread hanging over the soil in the pot. The bottle is kept tilted at an angle of 45 degrees using whatever support you can find around you; or you might use the bendable and yet sturdy 3mm gauze metal wire that is available at hardware shops, to make a prop for the bottle. If you have many potted plants, you might prop up the bottle such that the bottle placed in one pot leans over the next one. Keep the bottle uncapped. Now, watch closely. You will find a tiny bead of water moving along the thread (by spontaneous capillary action) and drop from the free end of the string into the soil. Water will continue to drip until the level of water is same at both ends of the thread, meaning that as long as there is water in the bottle, the irrigation will continue. Says Radhakrishnan, “You can actually set the speed of the process. For a faster flow, use a thicker thread. Ideally, adjust the thread width to allow water to drop at the rate of one drop per 30 seconds, which means that one litre of water in the bottle can be enough to irrigate a potted plant for two or three days”.

You can get away and yet be sure that your plants won’t miss you.