We were recently given a tour of a beautiful private vegetable garden in a nearby community.
Since the planted area covered about an acre, we now fondly refer to it as the inner-city minifarm. Berries, peaches, apples, vegetables of all kinds, nuts and flowers of every size, shape and color covered the property.
During the tour we noticed an old garden hose on the ground laced through several old aluminum soda cans. The head gardener evidently sensed our curiosity as we studied the mysterious contraption before us.
As it turned out, he couldn’t wait to explain the hose and can apparatus.
By its location it looked to us as though it was being used for some kind of irrigation.
Our guess was right. It turned out it was an irrigation hose. And as the 80-year-old proud inventor explained, it was his contribution to the world of recycling old hoses and soda cans.
“Since I have an acre to irrigate and because I’m on a fixed income,” he said, “I had to make do the old-fashioned way with good old Yankee ingenuity and a bunch of used parts.”
What he had done was to collect several old garden hoses. Their age, color, diameter and length were of no consequence.
The hoses were connected together to make up the length needed, and a knife was used to make holes in the hose, every foot or so. Where the punctures were made in relation to the diameter of the hose also proved to be of little importance.
Later, the very same knife was used to cut holes in the tops and bottoms of dozens of empty soda cans. Finally, the hose was laced through the cans, each resting over one of the punctures in the hose.
To begin his demonstration, the old gentleman gardener turned on the water, and it came dripping out of the cans.
At this point it wasn’t apparent what was exactly the real value of the contraption. After a few moments, however, it became clear to us when he pushed one of the cans down the hose with the tip of his cane. Water went shooting into the air nearly 25 feet.
Now we realized just how ingenious the device was. The high-pressure gush of water that passed through the hole in the hose, regardless of direction, was captured by the can and turned to a drizzle as it trickled out onto the ground.
The inventor went on to explain that the commercial soaker hoses he had tried lasted only a year or two, and were expensive to buy.
A good vegetable garden must be watered carefully. Moisture on leaves can cause mildew, leaf burning and other kinds of rot.
A trickle watering system is more cost efficient than trench watering and if you select the right combination of hoses and cans, trickle watering equipment can be very inexpensive too.
For tips from James and Morris Carey, go to www.onthehouse.com or call the listener hot line, 800-737-2474, ext. 59. The Careys are also on KRKO (1380-AM) from 6 to 10 a.m. every Saturday.