During winter, the irrigation system in the vegetable garden becomes obsolete, and a common concern is how to properly collect and preserve the irrigation hoses – the small, flexible plastic tubes that deliver water to our cultivated land. It might seem like a trivial technicality, but solving this issue wisely can save significant costs for farmers. Since irrigation hoses come with a certain expense, the better we preserve them, the more opportunities we have to reuse them in future crops, thereby extending their lifespan.
In this article, we will introduce a technique we’ve devised that makes the whole process exceptionally easy and also helps save storage space for gardening tools. The best part is, we achieve this by recycling a material that most farmers already have at their disposal. So, let’s delve into the details.
Drip Irrigation Hose
The drip irrigation system has become the most widely used method for providing proper water supply to our crops. It offers excellent irrigation efficiency, significant water savings, and, consequently, economic benefits. We’ve already explained how to create a simple and effective irrigation system, suitable for both gardens and vegetable plots. The drip system, which utilizes the classic perforated hose (available here), strikes the best balance between various needs, making it the most popular choice.
One of the advantages of the drip system is its ability to automate irrigation, freeing farmers from the burden of manual watering for each plant. This is especially beneficial when dealing with large spaces and intensive cultivation. In such cases, using this type of hose significantly reduces labor time.
Irrigation in the Vegetable Garden
Unless you have a greenhouse for protected cultivation, the period of using the irrigation hoses in the vegetable garden is limited to the spring and summer crops. During autumn and especially winter, if you cultivate in open fields, your crops won’t require any watering.
However, once autumn passes, the challenge arises of how to collect and preserve the materials used for irrigation, particularly the hoses.
Collecting the Irrigation Hoses in the Vegetable Garden
Intensively cultivating vegetables often poses the problem of frequently collecting irrigation hoses in the garden (or the yard). Imagine having to dismantle a lettuce field and gather 30 hoses, each 40 meters long. How can we efficiently accomplish this task while preserving the material? We must prevent tangling, entanglement, breakage, and unnecessary punctures. Additionally, there’s the issue of storage space. While the purchased rolls have relatively low bulk, once the hoses are spread across the field and then collected (possibly covered in soil), their volume multiplies.
Before arriving at the solution we’ll share shortly, we tried several methods without success.
Methods to Avoid
The first attempt was to gather the hoses one piece at a time, securing each with a tie. While this method works up to a certain length, it becomes tricky when done imprecisely, causing the hose to slip from your hands.
So, we thought a support was needed. Intuitively, we considered using a wooden stick to wrap the hoses around. However, this increased the bulk too much, leading to excessive bending and damaging the hoses. Moreover, this process was time-consuming.
The solution came when we looked around and found a material that, instead of being difficult to dispose of, turned out to be a valuable resource: the polystyrene seedling tray.
If you have a vegetable garden, you must be familiar with this item. It’s the container where small vegetable seedlings are grown in nurseries. Polystyrene has many properties, and apart from being reusable for creating seedlings with our own seeds, it can also be used for the convenient and efficient collection of irrigation hoses.
The system is quite simple: detach the hose from the faucet and the hook holding it to the ground. Tension the hose and start winding it around the polystyrene tray.
Holding the polystyrene tray from opposite ends, start rotating it, conveniently and orderly collecting the irrigation hose along its entire length.
As shown in the photograph, the bulk is now minimal. The collection process is straightforward, and the quality of the hose is preserved 100%, as it doesn’t bend excessively or break. Perform this operation when the hose is empty, not filled with water. Additionally, this system facilitates the reverse process – reusing the hose for a new crop. One person holds the polystyrene tray and rotates it, while the other person guides the end of the hose back to the irrigation system. Much easier done than said!
However, when choosing the storage location, be mindful of the prevailing temperature. Intense frost can damage the plastic and accelerate degradation. Preserving the hoses well ensures they can be reused many times, resulting in cost savings compared to other forms of garden irrigation. By preserving them, we reduce operating costs and, most importantly, minimize environmental impact. Therefore, we recommend storing the irrigation hoses in a closed space, such as a warehouse protected from freezing temperatures, for optimal preservation.