If you can’t afford to get set up with drip irrigation in your own garden, there is a cheaper alternative. It’s more labor intensive when it comes to watering, but it’s pretty awesome in my opinion.
That, my friends, is the sawed off end of a 5-gallon bucket. And it’s an amazing, multipurpose addition to your garden. It makes watering very easy – just use your wand or scoop a couple of big scoops of water into the ring and it concentrates it at your plant’s roots. It holds fertilizer and/or pesticides where you want them. It protects young seedlings or transplants from crazy windy days. It’s just overall awesomeness for relatively little money and effort.
My dad has always used rings in his garden, which is where I got the idea originally. But he makes his out of sheet metal, which strikes me as incredibly dangerous when you have little ones running around and “helping” in the garden like we do. I can still remember one winter when our dog stepped on a snow-covered ring and lacerated her paw pretty badly. So I wanted to come up with a safer alternative that was just as awesome.
Enter the 5-gallon bucket. I am a genius. 🙂
First off, to make these rings you will need: a 5-gallon bucket, a drill with a heavy duty drill bit (like 1/2 inch), and a reciprocating saw (or a hacksaw and a lot of patience). It also helps to have a spare set of hands.
1) Take your bucket and measure the height, dividing it into 3 equal rings. You’re going to want to make a mark where you want your cuts to be – you can either try to trace a line around the bucket or make 4 separate marks around the bucket and assume you won’t get too far off track between one mark and the next. (Guess which method we do?)
2) Take your drill and drill a hole on your line. You’ll also need to drill a hole at the bottom, just above the solid bottom of the bucket.
3) This is when it’s handy to have a helper. Using your reciprocating saw, cut around the circumference of the bucket. The DreadBrewer holds the saw and I help rotate the bucket. Repeat this process to make 3 rings, ultimately cutting off and discarding the bottom of the bucket as well. My incredibly accurate drawing above makes it look like you’ll throw away a lot of the bottom of the bucket – try to get as close to the bottom as possible so the discarded bit is as thin as you can get it. Ideally, you’ll waste very little of your bucket’s height.
5-gallon buckets are what -like $2 at Lowe’s? Super cheap! And you get 3 rings out of each bucket. The top ring of the bucket (with the lip) is the best and easiest to put in the ground, but all of the rings are equally useful. We still have quite a few that we use, even with the addition of drip irrigation, because they’re just too good to give up.
The easiest, and least damaging, way to use these is to put them in the ground (about half in, half out of the dirt) before you put your plants in but you can still shimmy them in around existing plants, provided you’re careful and the plant’s not too big yet. And voila! Amazing plant protector device that makes watering a snap. (Though not quite as easy as simply turning on the faucet…)
So if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to drip irrigation, give the humble 5-gallon bucket a try.
And as an added bonus, the rings that aren’t in use provide
hours minutes (let’s be honest, people) of entertainment for your toddler!