Keeping it watered – what works for us

Congratulations, you have a poly tunnel, and can raise your own seedlings. You sow the seed. Seed grows. Little plant starts to look  like it might be able to make it on it’s own then – disaster! miss a couple of days watering, and it all goes horribly wrong. After a few of these incidents, I made a thorough search of the local garden centre for irrigation options that would work for us on the Community Allotment, the conditions being: attention guaranteed only once a week; no mains water via hose;  no electricity supply; limited budget.

These are some options that are currently being tested (and approved) by us:

chillies growing on capillary matting


Capillary matting and inverted water bottle. (cost £10-12)  We are using this for our chillies and peppers, which are in pots in the polytunnel, and so are very vulnerable to drying out. This is a simple bit of kit that I bought, and soon figured I could duplicate at home. In the box was a length of capillary matting, and a large, square  water bottle with a screw top with a hole drilled in it. Water your pots and sit them on the capillary matting. Fill the large bottle with water and put lid on tight. Invert bottle onto capillary matting, where it will slowly release the water over the course of a few days. As long as the plants are watered before putting on the matting, this works very well.


watering spike - not yet stuck into the ground

Watering spike. (cost ranges between £4.29 for 6 to about the same price for 1). Take a careful look at the available options for this, as the cost per spike varies a lot between the different brands. I eventually settled on a pack with 6 spikes in, which cost the same as a single slightly fancier one. It’s a plastic spike that you’ll stick in a pot – it doesn’t need to be fancy! The spikes screw on to most types and sizes of plastic drinks bottles – fill bottle, screw on to spike, stick spike in the soil. Again, it’s best if the plants are watered first. We are using these on outdoor tomatoes in pots; they’d be good for plants in the ground too, if you wanted to be sure they didn’t dry out. Ours were cheap as chips, and still had a little device to allow you to control the water flow. Very useful.


Drip watering system. One especially for greenhouses or polytunnels, as the water is dispensed from a black rubber bladder, like a fat hot water bottle, which must be hung up. Review to follow soon…

Carolyn B 
Community Gardener

2 responses to this post.

  1. Love the blog Carolyn!


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