The HZT Micro Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit is conveniently small, neat and moderately easy-to-set-up, home irrigation system for houseplants, greenhouses, and conservatories. The boxy control and pump unit works via a USB plug, or can be run from 4 AA batteries (not included). The batteries act as a back-up power supply, which preserves your settings if there’s a power cut.
In addition to the main pump/control unit, you receive 33 feet of quarter inch clear plastic tubing, a set of three and four-armed attachments to set up your circuit, two sealing plugs (to close up the end of your circuit), a set of pronged droppers which are pushed into the soil at the base of each plant and deliver the water. There’s a USB power cable and a wide hook, which can be clipped on to the back of the control box, so it can be attached to the side of your bucket if you wish, for ease of use.
First step is to work out your circuit. The blurb says this can be done in 15 minutes – which I found to be wildly optimistic, but then I did waste an awful lot of time setting everything up badly at first, and having to re-think.
Setting up your system needs a degree of consideration before you start. I would advise anyone connecting more than 5 plants together to take the time and draw up a map of your tubes and attachments before you start, and save yourself a great deal of time and nervous agitation.
The system works best if you make sure you run the shortest possible lengths of tubing between each plant. Be sure to begin the circuit with the four-pronged connector: working out from a central point, like a spider’s web, worked much more efficiently than a chain of tubes. The water takes longer to reach plants furthest from the pump, so this is especially pertinent if you’re only using short watering times, when you might find plants furthest from the pump are hardly getting watered, and may not even get any water at all. A circular pattern of short tubes is the best for even watering.
You need to cut the length of tune to suit your needs. The instructions advise you to warm the tubing in warm water before cutting, but I found it cut fairly easily and with regular kitchen scissors without having to do this. Attaching the tube to prongs and connectors is easy enough, if a little tight. Setting up the system is then pretty simple, following the instructions provided. As seems to be usual, the instruction leaflet isn’t very good and took a little bit of figuring out, but it is pretty much self-evident. The diagrams are more useful than the text.
Attach one end of a cut-length of tubing to the inlet on to the control unit. The filter is attached to the other end and dropped down into a bucket of water that will form the reservoir – this must be below the level of the plants to avoid siphoning.
The tubing taking water to the plants attaches to the control’s outlet. This feeds the circuit you’ll have already set up.
Programming the system is pretty simple, with just three buttons. The left button sets the watering time – the length of time you’ll want the system to be delivering water to your plants, anything from 1 second to 99 seconds of watering time. 99 seconds is a surprisingly long time, too long for me, it emptied the bucket very quickly and over-watered the plants so that they leaked all over the conservatory floor. For my 8 plant circuit, I found 30 seconds was perfect, ensuring all the plants got sufficient water without flooding the conservatory.
The right button is for the frequency of watering. This runs from 0.1, watering every hour, up to 1.2, watering every 12 hours. The numbers then automatically switch to day-mode, starting at 1 – watering once a day – up to once every 30 days. The middle button switches between automatic watering and manual. Pressing to manual sets the pump going immediately, and it will then run until you turn it off or it runs out of water. It’s a useful addition if you want to top up your watering in a hot spell, or simply want the control watering as and when.
The water is supplied from a reservoir, like a bucket, though it needs to be fairly large. The motor is more powerful than I anticipated and with eight plants on the circuit, it ripped through the water in a very short time. I’ve been adding a little liquid seaweed to the water, so plants are being fed regularly as well as watered.
Once it’s up and running, the system works very well indeed. I’m very pleased with it, it saves so much time and effort. With so many plants to tend to, I’ve found this system invaluable, saving a great deal of time and energy. I really would recommend it to anyone with lots of plants that require regular watering.