Click on the photo to see a larger version on Flickr. Click here to see the entire album titled Sub-irrigation » California "Bubble SIP" Drought Tolerant Patio Garden. The album contains an archive of photos taken since the garden was started in August of last year. All of the plants are growing in traditional planters from big box stores with the addition of very simple DIY sub-irrigation plumbing that costs next to nothing.
Each day a torrent of Google News Alerts flows into my inbox. Many of them are about various aspects of "container gardening" The more I read the articles linked in the alerts, the more I realize how outdated our consumer horticulture education is.
The constant “drench and drain” advice also makes me realize how unique this sub-irrigation planter (SIP) garden is, particularly in drought stricken California. The garden is not on property I own and I maintain it only once each month. It requires very little maintenance and water.
Even knowing how conservative the gardening industry is it still astonishes me how little the public knows about sub-irrigation. How in the world does information about a simple method of conserving water in the middle of a record-breaking drought get suppressed like this?
I visited the Carlsbad Flower Fields earlier this week. It is a major tourist attraction adjacent to an Armstrong Garden Center and the Carlsbad Premium Outlets shopping complex.
Since I last visited the Flower Fields, they now have a UC San Diego Extension garden and separate “master gardener” garden. There is nothing about water-conserving sub-irrigation in either display. I took many photographs and will soon blog about the experience.
California has the largest university extension system in the U.S. and a reputation as a progressive political and social society. This is not true about consumer horticulture however.
The facts revealed by Google site searches demonstrate the exact opposite. The information on University of California websites is woefully out of date. Even the most recent 2nd edition of the UC California Master Gardener Handbook says next to nothing about urban container gardening and nothing about sub-irrigation (not even by the highly misleading “self-watering” term).
UC Extension appears to assume that everyone has a house, a yard and is a dedicated dirt gardener. Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth.