Some facts about WaterWands and Irrigatia pumps:
They are programmed to switch on and run every 3 hours, at a rate of approximately 100-120mL/min. The run time may be as much as two hours or as little as a few seconds. The total volume delivered is in proportion to the amount of sunlight the unit has received in the preceding 3 hours and the pump settings. The length of time the units run for will also be affected by the orientation of the pump to the sun (north is best), the time of year, shading and even the height above sea level (well, a little).
The units have 5 settings, the higher the setting, the more solar power is collected and stored by the unit, and the longer the pump will run for when it switches on.
The units are also supplied with a filter so tank water can be used without the risk of the pumps being blocked, 15m of 4mm poly tube and a 12-dripper irrigation kit (12 x 1l drippers, 12 T-joiners, 12 stakes) and an anti-siphon device. The Irrigatia SOL-K24 has double the number of irrigation pieces.
The pumps will use any convenient clean water source – a tank, a water butt, a bin full of water, even a bucket. The pumps are not intended to run dry but short periods will not damage them. The newer C-series Irrigatia pumps and the original WaterWand will warn you if the water source runs dry and switch off. They are not intended for use with dirty water but it is possible to use dam water if the inlet filter is embedded in a bucket of washed sand and then submerged. Do not allow any of the pumps to freeze (as ice could damage the micropump inside the unit).
The units should be hung in full sun, facing north/northwest if possible. All the models except the WaterWand original can hang up to 2 metres above the water source and can pump up a further 3 m above itself (5 m in all – high enough for hanging baskets round a second-storey roofline). The original WaterWand is intended to sit in a reservoir up to 800 mm deep but has similar power.
The Mark II WaterWand and Irrigatia models K-12, K-24 and C-12 are large enough to water 20 x 10 l pots, 8 hanging baskets or 4 sqm of garden bed. The Irrigatia SOL-C24 will water double that number/amount. The original WaterWand pump will water 20 pots, and about 6 sqm garden bed. All pumps are in plastic cases except the WaterWand original which comes in a sturdy metal case. The drippers in the irrigation kit provided with the pump are 1 l drippers (suitable for 5l pots). At the most and strictly on the level, you can use 36 of these drippers but we do not recommend more than 24.
The units can be used with drippers or seephose. Kits are available from WaterWand.
The water storage unit has a double plastic membrane to protect the wood from moisture and create a reservoir of water about half the depth of the bin (300 mm). The reservoir is generally sufficient to water the soil above adequately for up to three months without replenishment, as long as it is well mulched. A piece of felt is supplied to go under the plastic to prevent any roughness in the base of the bin from piercing it. Any large splinters or protuberant nails much be removed before installation.
A unique, patented matrix fits inside the plastic membrane to support the garden above. It has a water-permeable lid with felt material to prevent dirt falling into the water storage (a small amount won’t matter). The matrix and lid are constructed from light-weight material and can be put together in a few minutes.
A well tube reaches from the surface of the bed to the bottom of the reservoir. The inlet tube of Irrigatia or WaterWand pumps fit down this to allow the pump to draw up water. A filter must be fitted to the end of this tube. The WaterWand II, Irrigatia SOL-K12, K24 or C12 will provide enough water to irrigate 3 bins; the Irrigatia SOL-C24 will cover 6 (but you will need extra irrigation kits).
Because the water storage is under the garden bed, it will collect rainwater and any excess that drains from the garden above. This unique construction translates into an approximately 50% saving in total water used.
The water storage unit comes with two sets of tank fittings. These fit through the side of the bed and the membrane. The lower one can be connected to a rainwater diverter if you wish to collect water from a downspout. The upper one is an overflow and can be connected to a standard garden hose to direct any excess water to another part of your garden. Ideally, the rainwater diverter should be set to take off water to exactly the height of the top of the reservoir (as indicated by the bottom of the overflow). There would then be no need for the overflow. However, this can be difficult to achieve hence the second fitting. If you cannot connect the bed for some reason, it can be filled with a hose via the well tube or through the tap on the tank fitting.
The water storages in two orchard bins can be joined together using either of these tank fittings but preferably the lower ones (dependent on your circumstances) and a length of hose. It is not recommended to join more than two.
Liquid fertiliser may be put into the reservoir. Worm farm liquid, fish emulsion or tomato food are ok but don’t use anything that can build up salts in the soil (ie. artificial fertilisers). There is little or no outflow from the bed so nitrates will not wash through. You may not use grey water for this reason but you will not overly enrich nearby streams and rivers. You could also fertilise your bed automatically with an Intensive Care fertiliser bag.