Make Watering Your Balcony Garden Easier

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20160624DFor many years I used to have quite an extensive balcony vegetable garden and in general got really good results, at least, once I learned to grow my veggies in big, deep pots. The yields were exceptional: more beautiful, delicious vegetables than my family (then of 3 people) could eat fresh, so I gave many away. And it was so easy to do! To start with, there are no groundhogs or slugs on the 4th floor and very few harmful insects… even plant diseases seemed almost non-existent! As I long as I watered and fertilized regularly, success was almost guaranteed.

Balcony Watering Woes

Green watering can pouring water

Watering cans: heavy and messy.

But watering my vegetables was a major problem. They tend to dry out much faster than the same plants would in the ground and therefore I needed to water regularly. But getting the water to the balcony was a hassle. There was no tap on the balcony where I could hook up a hose to get a limitless source of water. (Why don’t architects think to include a tap on each balcony when they design residential buildings? They should be mandatory!)

At first I did the logical thing: I watered with a watering can. But what a job! When you have to make 7-9 round trips to fetch water from the only sink deep enough to accommodate your watering can, in the kitchen at the far end of the apartment, that’s a lot of work. Also, you simply can’t lug a watering can back and forth without spilling some water, and the more trips you make, the bigger the puddles on the floor. It drove my wife up a wall… and I was always slipping on the wet floors.

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Watering wand system from back in the 1980s.

Obviously I needed a better solution… and I found it: watering with a hose. At the time (my gardening experience on the balcony dates back 35 years ago), you could buy a “houseplant watering wand”: a very thin hose – roughly the size of an aquarium tube – with a simple (and flimsy) water wand at one end and a connector designed to hook up to a kitchen faucet at the other. The system was not very reliable or was it durable (I used to run through 2 or 3 each summer), plus it delivered water rather slowly, but at least it stretched (just barely) to balcony… and I stopped sloshing water up and down the hallway.

Spiral Hose

20160624BThese days, there are spiral watering hoses that can do the same job. Some models are even designed to be easily attached to a tap. If not, your local hardware store can readily find you a suitable adapter.

You just have to add a spray gun of some type if your hose doesn’t come with one. Afterwards, simply attach it to the tap, turn on the water, and drag the hose to the balcony. You can then water as much as you need, all without spilling water inside your apartment. At the end of the watering session, the hose rewinds itself and you can store it until next time, preferably under the sink where you use it.

You ought to be able to find a spiral hose locally. If not, here are two sources:

Gardener’s Supply Company

Lee Valley

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