Automatic Watering Bonsai

Baz

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Hi
I have a number of Bonsai and find watering a problem when I go away on Holiday
I would like to hear from people with similar problems and experiences of the same thing
I have a drip system at the moment with a timer and header tank what other options are there any Ideas or advice is most welcome


Baz

Zone 8 England
 

Graydon

Chumono
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Hi Baz,

I have issues keeping up with watering when I am home (not to mention vacation) so I built a simple system on a timer. I use something similar to http://www.dripdepot.com/drip-irrigation-kits.html?id=Nr88yUZQ.

It's a kit that installs on a battery powered timer that mounts on an outside hose bib and turns it on as per your program of days and length of time. It can run over 150' of tube and 50 mister heads. I don't use drippers as the coverage is not that good. Instead I go for smaller mister heads that spray a pattern of 180 - 360 degrees downward to the soil.

I am in the process of converting this over to a regular lawn sprinkler timer unit for a more reliable and dependable operation because they run on house power and not a battery that can fail when you are gone.

Hope this helps...
 

Baz

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Watering

Hi Graydon
Itryed using a old Mains power washingmachine solenoid with a mains power timer but I found that the size of the drip hole was critical if its to big it causes air locks and to small closes up when the weather is hot due to expansion of the plastic pipe

Baz
 

BONSAI_OUTLAW

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Once again...Brent dang fine article. I have been thinking about switching over to something lke this since my "designated waterer" failed to water some of my trees recently.
 

cbobgo

Mame
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unfortuantely, the automated systems can fail too, so even with a system you can't ignore your trees. I lost a pretty valuable pine this summer when a bad heat spell co-incided with a malfunction in my watering system that I didn't catch for a few days. You have to check to make sure your emmiters dont get clogged, or the timer battery dies, or the sprinkler gets bumped and now you have a dry spot etc etc.

But even with frequent checking on the system, it is definately faster than watering by hand.

- bob
 
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I also went to Dripworks.com for my initial setup recently. I want to eventually get to AC power with battery/solar backup. But for now, the beginner set for about $50 hooked me up except that it only came with about 5 emitters along with the drip line. So I went to Orscheln Farm and Home and bought as many emitters as I wanted. Worked great while I was gone to Yosemite, and now it waters every day at 2:30 PM for 7 minutes. So I water in the morning, they get watered in the heat of the day, and I water again when I get home if they need it.

Cheap and easy!!!
 

Attila Soos

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Thanks guys for giving me some ideas,

I've been troubled for a long time by the enormous amount of time that I need to spend watering. I would rather spend my time inspecting my drip-mist system and making sure that the system leaves no dry spot, then actually watering. It would also make my travels much-more worry-free, knowing that all I need is someone to inspect my plants.

I just got off the phone with DripWorks, they seem to know what they are doing. So I will be working with them to set up my system in the near-future. I have about 800 plants, so it will be a sizeable project, but I am looking forward to it.

I like Brent's idea of drip-misting (using one small mister per one- or two bonsai), so that's what I am going to use.
 
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Good idea, Brent and Attila. I am using a combination of methods, more to see how they work than as a final system. I have a few drip heads which I think are less than effective. I have some mist heads that look pretty good, and I have some drip lines that I circle the big pots with. These seem to work very well for the larger trees. However, when I finally begin building my display/growing area, I will be incorporating a misting system at the same time.
 

Rick Moquin

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I have been irrigating for 2 years now, wouldn't dream of doing bonsai any other way. I still inspect my trees daily. I use misters (around the perimeter) which gives the foliage a nice bath. I use shrubblers one or 2 per pot/box dependant on size and I have drippers for small pots.

My timer can be scheduled for a multitude of sceanarios but at present it is set for every 2nd day, from 7 - 7:30 am, 2 minutes on 10 minutes off. This permits soak and it looks after the trees needs marvelously. Did I mention it rains allot here.
 

Attila Soos

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I have been irrigating for 2 years now, wouldn't dream of doing bonsai any other way.

Good to hear that it's working.

I can't believe that I am doing this for so many years now, with nothing but stone-age technology. Now I will be able to spend that hour on actually working on a tree.

I remember talking to Garry from Chikugo-en shohin bonsai nursery. He said that he spends 6 hours per day on watering only. In the summer, sometimes he needs to do the routine twice (meaning 12 hours of manual watering). Can you believe all that waste of time, and how much the business could improve if watering was all automatized?
 
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rlist

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Good to hear that it's working.

I can't believe that I am doing this for so many years now, with nothing but stone-age technology. Now I will be able to spend that hour on actually working on a tree.

I remember talking to Garry from Chikugo-en shohin bonsai nursery. He said that he spends 6 hours per day on watering only. In the summer, sometimes he needs to do the routine twice (meaning 12 hours of manual watering). Can you believe all that waste of time, and how much the business could improve if watering was all automatized?
I won't say that watering by hand is a waste of time - it allows for quality time with your trees. If Dr. Bob watered by hand, his nice pine would still be with us. But, that said, I hate watering - moreso the dragging of the hose everywhere - and would love an automatic system, which just isn't in the works right now. However, I have done the second best thing I ever could to minimize watering - I moved to NW Oregon. I would guess I have watered less than 20 times this year. All year. I love it and my trees love it!
 

Attila Soos

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I won't say that watering by hand is a waste of time - it allows for quality time with your trees.

Yes, quality time is good. But I only have an hour a day to spend with my trees, so I would rather not spend it just watering, since I have a million other things to do.

Oregon is the way to go, if I ever retire, in about twenty years, I would move nowhere else than Oregon. Maybe I can convice my wife (low crime rate, clean air, good schools, good place to raise kids) to move there sooner. It must be bonsai heaven over there.:)
 

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