mrtoad(7b NC)April 5, 2012

do you use a drip system? any suggestions, advice or comments

thanks, mr toad

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I have a fairly complicated drip system set up. It's the type that is sold at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (groworganic.com) but ours is a different make; we decided to buy it locally from a farm supply store so it would be easier to get replacements.

It consists of a permanent installation of heavy plastic pipe and valves, with a valve at the beginning of each row and some larger diversion valves judiciously placed so that only parts of the garden can be watered at one time. Then we use what's called T-tape - perforated plastic tape that usually lasts only a season and is added each spring in a configuration that works for what I'm growing in that row that summer.

For instance if that row has tripods of tomatoes I run the tape up one side of the row and then back again on the other side (my rows are 30" wide with 18" paths between them.) For lettuce or strawberries or most other crops I just run the tape down the middle of the row and that's sufficient.

I usually lay the tape under the mulch. And I turn the water on overnight so the row gets a good slow soaking. Besides, especially if the tape isn't covered, as is the case with some veggies, cold water running through thin plastic tapes under the hot sun can cause cracks and leaks.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:04AM
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I use a homebrew combination of regular hose that I cut to fit running between beds and soaker hoses. I used hose menders to connect it all together. Then I have a 4 way diverter with shut-off valves from the hose. The hose is then on a timer that I run for about an hour every day in early morning. I set it up last year and nothing died when I was away for 10 days (no rain, either).

I'll add my own question. I've read so many different thoughts on when and how long to water. What works best for all of you?

riverfarm-is your system low flow? Do you run it all night, every night? thx.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 2:55PM
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I hand water my garden, and I've always been told to water either early morning or early evening, and at the base of the plant. Other than that I water according to the weather - (scorching week, twice a day watering, for example). My garden does alright with this system, but it sounds like you all have the best - I could never go away for 10 days without other people carrying on for me,every day!
- macgregor

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:30AM
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ali-b, my system is very low flow. And yes, I run it all night. I like your idea of a timer but that wouldn't work for my garden because I have a lot of different zones which I irrigate using shutoff valves to direct the flow. With the setup I have, I can't water a whole lot of the garden at once because there's not enough water pressure. So I'll do one section one night and another section another night, depending on whether we've had rain. My goal is to water each section fairly thoroughly every few days or so, rather than nightly, because I'm trying to encourage as extensive a root system as possible on my plants.

For some of the garden we do use overhead sprinklers, but in a hot, damp climate like ours that can cause mildew and fungus on some crops, and it's not at all good for tomatoes.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 5:28PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I can't do drip, cause of all the gunk in our well.
My set-up will be the same as Ali's, but without the timer (I might add that if I go on vacation, though!)
Soaker hoses with the 4 way splitter. I'll do the splitter so I can water different beds as needed. The tomatoes really only need a good watering 1x per week, but the squash need it every other day...etc
I also go out and hand water about 1x per week so I can get up close and personal with the plants, look for pests etc.
I do go out every day to see if there is anything to pick!
I also love to sit out there and look at my plants, listen to some lovely music, have a glass of wine with the neighbor's goats and just vege!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 9:44PM
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riverfarm, I like the idea of developing a deeper root system. A better way would be for me to leave the timer on longer but change the days of the week. There's a way to do it. Honestly, the timer I bought is not very intuitive and after punching buttons and accidentally resetting it ump-teen times, I went with the 1 hour daily that I managed to get and was afraid to touch it.

nancyjane - I love sitting in my garden too. I just dragged in a more comfortable bench this weekend for that purpose.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Still figuring it all out. No drip system. My dad uses it for his container vegetables and flowers and really gets things growing well. He uses huge barrel type pots and nothing smaller than at least 5 gallons.

Last year used sprinklers when I couldn't hand water due to illness. Wasn't much work once I figured out how to put it up on a bucket & remember to keep an eye on it. Varying water pressure made a difference in the spread. A few times it fell off the bucket and damaged some plants.

This year we installed soakers to our potager with a 4way splitter. I set a timer for 3 hours & put it in my pocket, so I don't forget to turn it off.

We've been satisfied with the results of soakers for raspberries, tomatoes, & squashes or potatoes in some open beds with permanent paths. I have valves on each hose so I can turn them on or off to water what needs it. Not enough pressure to have all 8 soakers going at the same time, but can do 3 or so. The potager has 4 hoses for each of the beds, so it's not a perfect system, but will save me some energy & time.

Trying a sprinkler hose this year also on the strawberries, rhubarb & potatoes. It's a fine mist that spreads nicely and will save me time. I hope the plants like it. It does have over spray like a sprinkler.

I only water when we don't receive an inch a week. Have tuna cans set in each bed. Some overhanging trees reduce rainfall, so the cans help me decide which bed to open valve. Do the finger poke test before watering anything.

Still hand water seedlings and lettucesf frequently to keep them thriving--- especially during a 2 week spell of sunshine earlier this month with no rain -- quite unusual for early May in western WA state. I missed the reliable drizzle that keeps seedlings happy, but loved the sunny days!

If I ran the soakers every week the lettuces would be happy, but I feel I'd be wasting water this early on. Once our dry season hits I'll water weekly July - September when the rains return.

When I hand water with a bucket & cup or a watering can I'm less likely to damage plants than when I drag a hose with wand attached. It bummed me out when I broke off one entire branching off of a geranium a week ago, so that inside in a vase now blooming. The hose was a new no kink one that is too heavy to drag around. Lesson learned.

Also, the benefit of the bucket system if you have enough set around the water warms during the day & you can water in late afternoon with warm water. I try to water zucchini, cukes, tomatoes & peppers with warm water the 1st few weeks if possible. That way I don't shock them. We have cool spring weather and not reliably over 50 degree nights until sometime in June then a cool summer compared to most of the USA.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 1:18PM
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SInce this is the Potager forum, I am assuming that all of you with drip/soaker systems have rigged them for raised beds. I would love to see pictures if anyone is willing to post. Most of my beds are 12-16" off the ground. I cant imagine pipes /hoses running up the sides of the beds and looking anything but ugly.

I just hand water with a hose, one or two beds every morning as I make my daily inspection.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 7:01AM
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All potagers aren't in raised beds; mine isn't. So it's fairly easy to run the feeder lines along the edge of the brick path and then attach the irrigation tape for each row. However, one of the gardening catalogues actually has fixtures for raised beds that bring the water up to that level for attachment to the drip irrigation - probably Gardeners Supply but I'm not positive.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 6:29PM
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