Monday, September 25

To sprinkle or not to sprinkle

I've heard a rumour the Council is about to ban the use of sprinklers at allotment sites in Wakefield.

Possible reasons are that sprinklers reduce water pressure for other users. Not true in my experience. If someone else on the plot turns on a tap then my sprinklers stops. Some evenings last summer it was not possible to use a sprinkler as there was insufficient pressure as watering cans were being filled and hose pipes used to water withering veg.

At some sites sprinklers were left on all day I've heard. Why then punish all rather than targeting anyone abusing the system. Why not initially ask allotment holders not to do this otherwise the use of sprinklers will be banned? How will any of these policies be policed? What happens if allotment holders still leave sprinklers sprinkling all day?

Any comments.


  1. I think sprinklers waste more water than other watering methods. With a hose or watering can you can at least direct the water at individual plants. A sprinkler just soaks all the ground in its operating arc whether there are plants in or not. In these days of hot summers with little rain we should all be trying to do as much as possible not to waste water. This year I put plastic edging around some of my plants initially to protect from birds and mice etc.. when they were small, however they also made very good water reservoirs ensuring that water was directed straight to the plant roots.

  2. I think gardeners who grow their own fruit and vegetables already make a considerable contribution to protecting the environment. Fruit and veg sold in supermarkets etc travels considerable distances, consuming millions of gallons of petrol and polluting the environment. Those gardeners who restrict their use of chemicals or grow organically contribute even further. Many gardeners, as this blog suggests, also do their bit to create habitats for wildlife.

    I think ‘greenfingers’ is doing no harm in wanting to use his/her sprinkler in an area whose water board boasted that it had no problem in supplying all the water that was needed last summer.

    There were no restrictions on the use of sprinklers to water golf courses or lawns in private gardens. Where I live children played in the street under sprinklers wasting gallons of water in the process! No one complained – why then should allotment holders be treated any differently – is this discrimination?

    In many countries that have a far worse water supply than ours giant sprinklers are used to irrigate fields of crops even when water is restricted for other less beneficial reasons.

    Can I ask if winterberry used biodegradable plastic to protect his/her crops or whether when he/she has finished with it the plastic it will be washed and sent for recycling? Also I note that winterberry wishes to create a garden pond – will this not use a considerable amount of water especially in a hot dry summer when it will need replenishing.

  3. I've had an allotment for a more than 20 years now and have tried many ways of watering through summer droughts. I've found some methods more successful than others. I found using a sprinkler this year produced very good results. I used a sprinkler to water a large area of my plots for an hour at a time on different evenings and during this time I was free to weed the plots. This meant that I could remove weeds that would compete with my plants for water. If I had needed to water 'by hand' the weeds would have had to remain!

    Also as a comparison I used a watering can on some parts of the plot, which yielded poorer results.

    Experience leads me to question commonly asserted theories. When the ground is very dry I'm not convinced that the theory that "a watering- can delivers water to the roots where it's needed" is entirely correct. Some of the water does indeed arrive at the roots and then seeps straight into the surrounding dry soil away from the roots of the plant. The ground soon dries up completely after such watering in this way. Water delivered from a hosepipe penetrates downwards much deeper than the roots of plants such as vegetables. I dare say this is advantageous when watering established trees and shrubs. The water nearer the surface is absorbed sideways into dry soil and away from the roots. I suspect the only way this method is successful is if plants are watered each day. I found when using a sprinkler crops could be left for more than one week between watering. It is debateable which method uses more water.

    I noticed this year that many people who used hosepipes to water their crops used a sprinkler attachment and did not direct to plant roots. The only difference being that the water was delivered at a higher pressure and the watering could not be left to carry on unattended.

    I assume that if the Council are preventing allotment holders from using sprinklers to water food producing crops that they will be likewise stopping using sprinklers to water their sports pitches, gardens etc. That is practising what they preach!

    I don't remember Yorkshire water imposing a hosepipe ban last summer. I agree with other comments that water should not be wasted but think that water can be saved in other areas before restrictions are imposed on allotment holders. If Yorkshire Water does not need to impose water restrictions during the summer (I understand that they have to convince the Environment Agency that restrictions are required) then why do the Council find it necessary to penalise their allotment holders?

    Has there been a complaint about use of water on Green Lane allotments - or has a problem been identified elsewhere? If the problem is on other sites then why impose a ban on everyone?


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