As a youngster I had never understood the aphorism
Necessity is the mother of invention.
To understand it, I needed to experience it. This morning I finally realized what it meant.
The past two weeks brought extremely dry, hot weather to the San Fernando Valley. Scorching desert winds blew through the garden, and reduced our Pittosporum Silver Sheen to a half-dead bundle of twigs. But it has not died. I watered it regularly, but I discovered that the root ball had dried out and needed a slow drip of H2O in order to mend. The water just wasn’t soaking in. A slow drip the best way to persuade the powdered dirt to let in the water.
The solution I first devised seemed like a winner. I drilled a 1/16 inch hole in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and placed the hole over the root ball. This morning, I expected an empty bucket, but there was an issue: as the water turned the dirt to mud, the little bits of wood in the mulch floated up and blocked the hole, and the drip was essentially stopped up.
When I lifted the mostly full bucket, the slow constant dribble began again. I set it on the edge of the planter and watched it drip in a spot about twelve inches away from the root ball.
“Hmm, maybe I can channel the water to the root ball with some sort of mini aqueduct,” I thought. For some reason, a shoe horn came to mind. I went inside and got my shoe horn. It was way too short.
I needed something with a channel, like the sides of a shoe horn, but longer. A lot of odd solutions came to mind…a turkey baster? Impractical and we only have one…I wouldn’t want mud in my Thanksgiving gravy. I rummaged through my kitchen drawers and found two wooden incense holders. One wasn’t long enough, but two would be. I inverted a 3 inch perennial pot and placed it below the bucket drip. I propped the first incense burner in lean-to fashion against the inverted pot, and the stream began flowing in a perfect channel into the dirt, about 8 inches away from the sweet spot.
After a great deal of experimentation, I was able to get the second incense burner positioned to receive most of the water from the first incense burner, but there was some water loss at the transfer point. The second incense burner did get some of the water where it was needed, so I shrugged and walked away.
Here is where the aphorism ends. I had invented a rather inefficient but functional Rube Goldberg-esque solution to the slow drip necessity.
Then I went inside and drank my morning cup of Reishi Tea. Here is where my particular skill set kicked in. Reflecting on my inspired but inefficient garden rescue, I suddenly realized that I had built the whole contraption based on where I had randomly placed the very heavy five gallon bucket. If I moved the bucket to a better spot on the edge of the planter, it would only require one incense burner to reach the root ball! I moved the heavy bucket to its optimal position, retired one of the incense burners, and watched in amazement as the new device did its work perfectly, delivering 100% of the water to the root ball.
So I have a second aphorism to add to the original :
Necessity is the Mother of Invention; Reflection is the Mother of Efficiency.