what's your formula for drip watering your veges?

mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)June 10, 2013

So we have drip irrigation in our vege garden this year, and trying this year to figure out the "proper" amount for how many days and how long to set the time for watering in zone 5 (mile high elevation).

We are using one 2 gallon/hr nozzle on each plant. So I'm trying to decide how long to run the timer each time I water, and how many days I should water each week. Seems most say you should water longer each time, and fewer times each week, for best root development.

Is anyone experienced with drip irrigation for veges? I was thinking about 10 min. for 3 days per week - does that sound reasonable, or is that too little or too much? It's kind of confusing because some places say most veges need 1" of water per week. But inches would have to be relative to the size of the area you are watering, so how would you correctly calculate that anyway?! Ugh - I've never been a big math person anyway!!

If you have a tried-n-true method for using drip irrigation for your veges, would love to hear it! I know their are a lot of variables to factor in (soil type, humidity, plants, etc.), but thought there is probably at least a few folks here that might have some advice for me.


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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

It's probably a matter of trail and error hopefully not that much error. I have drip hoses in various places the ones that are basically a hose with lots of pin holes

Most plants will show water stress so if you see that then you'll know to increase watering.

You could purchase a water sensor and test in various different places. I believe they cost about $10. Then there's always the old standby of sticking your finger in the ground if you don't mind dirty fingernails.

Another method that I use is take a garden trowel and dig around 6 to 10 inches down and see what the moisture content is like.

Not sure if there's a formula as such because every situation is unique as in different plants, soil, amount of sunlight...

Good luck. Hope this helps some.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 3:40PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Thanks for the advice Greg :) I did pick up a soil moisture meter. After doing some more reading up about the drip lines, and finding one resource saying to "think more in hours rather than minutes", I had set the system to run for 45 min. three times a week. It's only run once since I set it, and that was on Wed. I used the meter in the soil both this morning and just a few minutes ago, and it was reading wet. So looks like I need to back it off some. I'll not run it at all tomorrow as scheduled (unless the meter reads dry, which I highly doubt it will since it's reading so wet), and also change it so when it runs next it's only on for 30 min. I may need to change the days I'm watering now that I got it too wet already. So I'll keep checking with the meter and adjust as needed.

It'll take a bit to get the timing down so I've got the soil keeping just moist fairly steadily (adjusting as the weather gets hotter), but for now it is good to know that the water is getting down deep. I like the drip method rather than the soaker hose, as the water is going directly to each plant and not to other areas (and definitely don't want to encourage weeds to grow - they don't need any help!).


    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 11:15PM
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So glad Greg had such sage advice. The finger test is still the best for me. Just keep testing. In my garden, on gravity feed T-tape, i can usually run twice a week. But this last few days with hot dry wind it needs more often.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 9:04AM
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I went from using my sprinklers to water my garden, we removed grass from part of our back yard to garden, so the sprinkler system was in Place. Worked pretty good.

This year I went to a drip system. I use the bubblers and multiple steam stakes on the plants. Can't remember the gal/hr rate. I have found that with the direct watering of the drip, I have to water much less. Running for 10 min about every 3 days.

I check my garden daily, and use the finger test. I water when it's dry a finger length down.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 3:44AM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Thanks for the tips! I have found the 2 gph eliminators (think that's what they call them) are doing a much better job and don't have to water as much. I've been checking the soil with my meter, and have found it is staying moist for a longer period of time. Nice! We have had some rain here and there, so that's helped as well.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:10AM
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