The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Rain. The lazy guide to watering in dry weather.

old stone dogIt’s been raining on and off for about three days now which has set back the work on the outside of the cottage. The garden is loving it. The plants look so much fresher. The pond and all the water butts have filled up (even the butt holding 1400 litres is half full!). We water the vegetable garden using a slow drip system fed by seven water butts that are dotted about the garden collecting water off the greenhouse and various roofs.Laziness drew me into the world of slow drip watering. Two years ago we raised tomato plants from seed and even though we gave away loads we were left with 48. Danny felt it was a shame to throw them away. The thought of watering the 48 tomato plants by hand forced me to find a way of keeping the plants and remaining on speaking terms. I’d seen leaky pipe attached to a hose in a friends garden and remembered drip feeding water systems operating in Indonesia. There is very little waste as the drip fed water penetrates the ground deeply.

The biggest butt is vast and that collects water from the roof of the cottage. It is one of two that Tony, our neighbour, bought from the Jaffa Orange factory during his water recycling phase and left behind when he moved to Whitehaven a few years ago. We decided to start using them this year, when the drought seemed imminent. Only one is up and running as yet. It is attached via a pipe to a brass water tap attached to the side of the house. A long hose carries the water down to the vegetable garden and to the drip pipes that feed each section. We also have a greenhouse watering kit running from a butt, which is good too.

There are battery operated devices that can be attached to a water butt tap to turn on the water automatically (about twenty quid from B&Q). Our Bee Mentor, Mike has one. I must ask him how good it is.

It’s great to get home on a hot day and just turn on a few taps. We sit by the pond, in the shade of our tomato plants, with cold beers in hand as the garden waters itself. Bliss.


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