Thursday, June 26, 2014

Drip Irrigation

        Who says you can’t grow a garden in the desert?  All it takes is good soil and a little water.

         Unlike the rotating sprinklers that water a large portion of your garden at one time, Drip Irrigation systems are strategically placed to water only the roots of the plants you intend to grow.  In this way, water is conserved as is time and money.

               Using a network of tubing (flexible or hard PVC types), soaker hoses, and drippers, each plant will slowly receive water thus reducing the amount of evaporation that occurs with mass-application sprinklers. It also eliminates stress on plants because of variations in the moisture in the soil. 
               I opted for flexible tubing, which I buried around the perimeter of my raised beds.  I used t-shaped fittings on the outside edges of each bed.  This created a way to add a line directly into each bed, plus continue the flow of water to the next one.

               From each t-shaped fitting I added a hose that ran into the bed from which I could insert barbed fittings to which I could attach solid hosing or soaker hoses. At the end of the solid hoses, I used either pressure compensating drip emitters which ran a continuous drip of 1 – 2 gallons per hour to a particular place or a sprayer for under bushes or trees.
               If you are planting rows of vegetables, such as corn, carrots, or peas the alternative is using PVC piping and drilling evenly spaced holes along the length of the pipe.

               Setting up your irrigation system is not rocket science, and you can make it as easy or as complex as you want.  But, I suggest you think through your plan first. Draw it out on a piece of paper before you purchase a thing.  Be prepared to be overwhelmed with the amount of choices at your local hardware store—selections such as hose diameter, sprinkler types, and variations of emitters. It took me studying my layout and what was at the store several times before coming away with the best solution for my garden.
               The other alternative, depending on the size of your garden are the pre-packaged kits that include enough equipment for several beds.  Review the contents carefully to assure they will work into your plan, or you’ll find you’re spending more on top of the cost of the kit.

Your turn:  Have you ever used a drip system?  What did you like about it . . . or not?

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