Watering Ideas

momarch(6)June 28, 2014

Looking for some good inexpensive ideas to keep the vegetable garden watered! We are from Florida and migrate to Amesbury Mass end of May and stay till end Sept.This is our 4th year doing this, we started a roadside organic veggie stand so we have a few veggie gardens scattered throughout our land, wherever we can get a nice sunny spot. Watering is a big issue, our bill last year shocked us...it was the first year we took over the place on our own.
Our main garden is about 40x40 feet..we have one of those tripod sprinklers in the middle that hits most of the garden pretty well, but misses one side..so I go over it with gallon jugs. We are experimenting with rain barrels in another garden. We don't want to do an in ground irrigation because we are not here 7 months of the year and don't know what would happen to it. Any ideas would be appreciated :)

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Have you thought about a soaker hose irrigation system? It goes on the ground's surface and is both more efficient with water use and keeps the foliage dry so is healthier for the plants. You could just roll it up and store it at the end of the season. I don't think it would work well with barrels, but with regular water pressure it will be fine. I've given a link below to the type of thing I mean, and though I am not recommending that specific company or product, I have used a similar system in the past and found it worked well.

Add organic matter to your garden soil (compost, old manure, chopped leaves, etc) to improve moisture holding capacity.

Mulch to reduce evaporation and keep the soil moisture more even.

You could also check and see if there is an old dug well on your land - many places around here have them.

Many years I don't end up watering much since we usually get a fair amount of rain here and in relatively regular intervals.

Here is a link that might be useful: soaker hose irrigation

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 1:36PM
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I second what Idabean said - and for some crops a little shade helps too - lettuce and other greens don't really need full sun. Protection from wind also helps, which is one of the good things about mulch. We've used seaweed quite a bit, it has no weed seeds and it's free for the taking, if you happen to be near the shore. I guess that's a pretty big IF, but ... just in case.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 3:28PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Babs, we are just dealing with this issue too. I was just posting on the Irrigation forum about it. We have raised vegetable beds, we added soaker hoses, that we already had, tried connecting all of them together and only the first two hoses filled. I was told on the Irrigation forum that I can't expect water to travel a distance through perforated hose without manifolds or go to a drip emitter system. Not sure I wanted to go to a drip emitter system and this link you offered show something that appears to be a different alternative.

I'm trying to figure out why this works and my soaker hoses don't. From the photo it looks like it has a solid green hose that comes off the spigot and along the front that all the soaker sections connect to. So each section of soaker hose is connecting to the water source instead of trying to travel a longer distance through soaker hoses.

I wonder if I can do the same thing with the soaker hoses I already have by adding the green solid hose and the connectors, bought separately and not as a kit? You might not know that, but thought I'd ask. :-)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 6:34AM
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We used them in 10' and 15' x 4' raised veggie beds. My memory is that each bed had a loop down one side and up the other and then attached to a small manifold with solid hose to supply the soaker. (It's been more than 15 years since we had that garden, so I am not sure my memory is correct.) Our soaker hoses were about the diameter of a fat finger, much smaller than regular hoses, and the connecter hoses were smaller in diameter than that, so I am not sure if they would work with regular hose connectors.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 2:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks, Babs, I'm going to look into that some more. It is probably do able. Right now we have the soaker hoses laid in the beds and have quick connects on them and we're watering one or two beds at a time. If we can just figure out a solid hose with connectors to each soaker hose, we might be in business. That link helps too, to see how they did it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Thanks for all the replies! We have set up a rain barrel in one of our smaller gardens with a soaker hose draining which seems to be doing a great job so far. Problem is the amount of rain we will get...we just don't know. The two larger gardens we are sticking with the above ground sprinklers for now until we come up with a better plan.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 11:49AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Momarch, we're using sprinklers on the garden in general this year again, but soaker hoses are already installed in the raised vegetable beds. I'm not going to be able to fool around with it any more, so for now, we were able to connect hoses in two beds together and it waters those well, and three more beds we are watering one at a time for a half hour at a time. A little more inconvenient but it works. And better than standing there with a hose and nozzle for a couple of hours. At some point, we'll have some time to figure out how to water all the beds at once.

We also had a couple of extra soaker hoses and I wrapped those around a few plants in the border that need more moisture.

One thing I will say, the reason we are trying to switch over to soaker hoses, is that last year, when I watered with just sprinklers, someone on GW suggested that the water was not getting all the way down to the roots. And I could tell that even after 2 hrs of the sprinkler going, some of my shrubs were still wilting two days later. So I started pouring 5 gallon buckets around the base of them and they stopped wilting. So, I did prove to myself that using the overhead sprinklers was wasting water and money and still not getting my shrubs watered well enough. So even though we are using sprinklers now, I'm supplementing when I can with extra 5 gallon buckets of water at the base of shrubs I know struggle with getting enough moisture.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 7:55AM
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I can recommend the "snip and drip" system from Gardener's Supply" We are on our second year of it and it does save a lot of time.
It is easy to put together. It comes as a whole kit, but you can also buy extras of the components.
the products have many unedited reviews. If there's something unflattering you'll read about it. I find that increases my confidence in the product.
Planning is straightforward for row or raised beds.
If there are perennials, shrubs, multiple beds, changes in topography it takes some strategic planning to put together the most effective system. I was able to visualize a plan with a four outlet faucet. Honest, if I can do it, anyone can.
Gardener's Supply has excellent customer service. If there's a problem or equipment failure they issue credit with no arguments.
Shipment is exceptionally speedy.
I promise I don't work for them!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 10:38PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Great, Marie! Glad to know someone who has used the system. I see they also have a different arrangement for a raised bed. Easy is what we are always looking for, so that counts for a lot. lol Thanks, I'll go back and give it a longer look.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 8:44AM
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Momarch - just wondering if you came up with a solution.

We just fenced in our veggie garden. And now it's a total PITA to water - since I need to lug the hose around and over the fence. We had an irrigation system installed in our front yard as part of a huge landscaping project - and here it is 2 weeks later and I'm already regretting that I didn't add irrigation to the veggie garden!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2014 at 12:56PM
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Not yet. We did the above watering via several sprinklers in our main garden..we have a couple splitters on the hose and have a sprinkler on two corners which covers the whole area pretty good. Dragging a hose thru is impossible as it would run over the plants. And the sprinkler watering is not as desirable as I'd like..we did get issues of powdery mildew on the cukes and some late blight on the tomatoes. So we are trying to make a drip system for next year...just havent pieced it all together yet.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2014 at 2:40PM
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