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"Green" Watering

Good management. Use your watering calendar to coordinate your by-hand watering with Nature's watering; teach kids how important it is to measure and record moisture, to ensure a consistent supply for growth.

Mulch. Evaporation will waste water quickly if you haven't "dressed" your garden beds with a layer of mulch. Mulch captures moisture and reduces evaporation (and your efforts spent hauling hoses and watering cans), but it can't do it all.

Rain barrels. See the article explaining how they recycle rainwater for your garden.

Dripline irrigation. By installing drip irrigation before building garden beds, you'll only have to manually water seedlings and new transplants. Once their roots become established in the rich organic mulch, you can let the irrigation system take over. Students should still check the garden regularly to make sure the system is working, and record data in the watering calendar.

Recyclables. You can also use gallon milk jugs or 2-liter soda bottles as free, slow-drip watering tools. Using a pin, punch tiny holes in the lower half of each jug -- both bottoms and sides. Bury them in the bed near plants and fill them, and they will slowly leak water that plants can use. You might challenge your students to design and test other irrigation tools made from recyclables.

By Susan Darst Williams • • Practices 11 © 2011

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