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macheske

New irrigation plan for next year

16 years ago

Well, this was the first year for our current garden. Some plants are doing well, other's aren't. I'm thinking forward to next year. This year the weed problem was horrible - totally uncontrollable. I need to come up with something that will be low maintenance. The garden is 20' x 80' but I'm considering increasing the width to 40' next year. I have water lines leading up to the garden and this year I have overhead sprinklers watering the garden. I don't worry to much about water usage here since we're on our own well. What are my options? Should I consider going to drip irrigation and put down black plastic with only holes for the plants? I have been considering landscape fabric and leaving the overhead irrigation. I have avoided drip and black plastic since there are few crops we would like to plant that don't take well to far spaced individual plants (like carrots). Though, most of the things we plant would work that way. I'm looking for suggestions on how to do this as well as experiences with irrigation equipment (I haven't had good luck with the drip systems from the big box stores).

Comments (40)

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This year the weed problem was horrible - totally uncontrollable.

    Before you address irrigation, you need to address the weed issue which is unrelated to the watering system.

    How did you prepare your bed? Did you till? How large is the area? What weeds do you have? How do you manage them now? Do you use any form of weed control?

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I tilled a 20' x 80' area of my field. I have mostly grasses as weeds but also there are a lot of miscellaneous weeds. I didn't use any weed control this year except for me pulling some of them out. Unfortunately, I don't have time to pull all of the grasses and weeds. I thought that tilling down at least 12" would kill most of the grasses. Any help would be appreciated.

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  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The first year for a garden is the very worst with weeds until you figure out just how to control them.

    It begins in early spring, if you let them get started they are hard to catch up with. Get rid of them before they produce seeds and a million more weeds. Each year gets better after that.

    Loose the overhead watering and many of your weeds will simply NOT germinate. The weed seeds need water & sunlight to germinate. Of course you can't stop the rain, so see mulch below.

    I am told the seeds can lay dormant in the soil for up to 40yrs.

    Tilling will destroy the root system of existing weeds but brings "new seeds" to the surface. Seeds you can't even see. The seeds just need a flash of sunlight to know they are close enuff to the surface to germinate. Add a little water & you can see the results, right?

    Since I stopped tilling, I have fewer weeds.

    Start using a mulch which adds organic matter (the nutrients your plants need), keeps soil moisture consistent, & shades the soil which also helps to keep the weeds down. Those that do sprout are much easier to remove.

    I use leaves for mulch. Lotsa & lotsa leaves along with newspaper or cardboard. Anything that will decompose. I don't like the weed or landscape fabric because the weeds just grow through it, their roots get tangled in it, it tears when you try to remove the weeds, and the fabric just never breaks down, just rips into little pieces. Try it for yourself ;-)

    Consider trying either lasagna or Square Foot Gardening (SFG) methods (w/o the fabric). Both help to reduce weeds. I am kinda combining the two methods.

    Remember you can try almost anything in gardening.

    Make note of what you want to try different next year while the thoughts are fresh in your head.

    Search & read for more ideas. I like to read more during the winter because I have things to do in the garden when the weather permits. Make notes along the way.

    A couple sites to check out:

    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/sqfoot/


    http://www.squarefootgardening.com/


    http://ourgardengang.tripod.com/lasagna_gardening.htm

    Good Luck,
    Gumby_CT

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    There is a micro/drip type dispenser of water for every group of plants you could possibly want to grow. The micro/drip irrigation systems that I installed for years are still operating. Some of them operating for nearly 30 years now! I am now retired and no longer have any affiliation with any company of any kind.

    Over the years, my former irrigation company replaced hundreds of soaker hoses. We INSTALLED irrigation systems for our client's lawns mostly, and gardens also. The only equipment we ever sold was the equipment we installed.

    The basic lay-out of the micro/drip system that I prefer, starts with 1/2inch or 3/4inch black poly tubing hooked up to the spigot and kinked-off at the other end. Then plug into the larger tubing one end of a small 1/4inch "spaghetti" tubing wherever you want to water. At the other end of each "spaghetti" you may insert everything from sprayers to emitters. Vinyl "spaghetti" is a poor choice. Vinyl is too soft and blows-off of the little barbs that hold the "spaghetti" on. Be sure to buy "poly" spaghetti tubing, not vinyl.

    Most "sprayers" wet foliage and also wet a large area of soil, watering both weeds and beneficials. The up-side of using sprayers is, you can water up to 4 or 5 tomato sized plants with one "sprayer". For crops such as carrots, sprayers work well due to the dense spacing of the plants.

    Now, "emitters" slowly drip water onto the root-zone in virtually any amount you choose. Amounts dispensed can range from as little as 1/2gallon-per-hour, up to several-gallons-per-hour. I use two "emitters" on large plants like tomatoes. Emitters water slowly and deeply. And, emitters apply water at the point of choosing only. They deprive weeds of irrigation water. The only water the weeds will get is rain-water. Another benefit of emitters is, they do not wet foliage. This can be a MAJOR benefit in climates like our humid/hot Louisiana weather.

    I dealt with local wholesale-only companies. You may purchase from mail-order companies like Dripworks in California or Sprinkler Warehouse in Texas. They will even design a system for you.

    I wouldn't use black plastic. High temps shut-down tomato and pepper production here for nearly two months already.

    I have used Round-Up very sparingly over the years. I know the chem-free folks hate the stuff. If you want the procedure I've used in the past, ask and I'll post it. It uses the least amount of chemical to the greatest effect.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I use drip fertigation, for both raised beds as well as containers. I grow mostly tomatoes, peppers, sweetcorn, an Atlantic Giant pumpkin, strawberries, raspberries, garlic, onions, occasionally some beans, melons/watermelons, herbs, etc. Many are strategically placed. I'm city folk, which means half my garden is blacktop driveway, and I manage to fit a lot of stuff in a minimum amount of space--that's about 25x45ft and includes 1-2 medium-large vehicles at times. The yard is always a work in progress and drip irrigation has less limitations than T-tape type setups, though if you are just doing long rows, T-tape setups work well. I find it easier to get parts locally for drip stuff than T-tape. Plus drip emitters are available in a wide selection of types, from single emitters, pressure compensating emitters (for uneven ground, slopes, hills, etc), tubing with pre-spaced emitters every 6/12/18/24", spray emitters, adjustable rate emitters, etc. Many/most drip emitters can be buried, while tape is often recommended only on the surface, not buried.

    With drip, you're applying the water where YOU want it, which also cuts down on water waste & weeds too. Diseases are much less too, especially on things like tomatoes, which are effected by foliar diseases easily.

    I use a relatively inexpensive fertilizer injector that fertilizes whenever it waters (if I want it to fertilize--it's adjustable) and have even divided up the yarden into different zones, all on one timer with different programming & control valves.

    Your mind is picturing drip & black plastic but there are many instances of using drip without plastic. I personally like the black fabric and use it on many of my beds, yet some have nothing more than compost and no other mulch. Some, the drip is even on top of the mulch--if you have any problems or leaks, they are easy to spot. Plus you don't lose much to evaporation since the drip area is so small on the surface--like a 3-4" hole thru the mulch/fabric for the plant. And the combo works well against weeds--you're not watering them, just the plants you want.

    If you'd like to see some detailed diagrams/drawings, let me know and I'll post a link. I think I have a sample setup pic of another GW member's garden I added drip to (on paper) also.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The key to getting rid of weeds and keeping an area weed free is planning far enough ahead and constant maintenance. I don't recommend Roundup, you don't need it.

    Weed eating is a futile effort unless your taking out the roots as well. So long as the roots are still in the ground, most of your weeds will continue to come back. You need to completely eliminate the entire plant: top and bottom.

    Depending on what "weeds" were in your soil that you tilled, you most likely brought up dormant weed seeds that were too deep to sprout and broke up stems (crab grass for instance) into smaller pieces where the nodes still sprouted.

    Here is my suggestion to you due to the size of your area:
    If tilling is the chosen method, then do so at least six weeks in advance, and preferably months in advance in order for the soil tilth to build back again as well as for dormant seeds to sprout so you can skim them to kill them as they come up. Do this a few times for a couple of weeks until they've subsided, then you're ready to plant.

    Next you need to mulch and mulch well (2-3 inches). This will prevent further sprouting of weeds and prevent migrating wind born seeds from taking root in your soil. If you plant vegetable seeds, you can mulch with a thin layer of shredded leaves or grass clippings or compost or straw, etc. When the seedlings get 3-4 inches tall you can mulch at a greater thickness and more as they get larger.

    If you had that many ants, your soil must have been too dry. Mulch will help keep your soil moist and the soil temperature stable.

    If you want to go the newspaper route, try Freecycle.org and ask for newspaper. You might be pleasantly surprised. There's probably someone out there (like me) with plenty of newspaper to share, especially if it's going to good use and getting recycled. You can also call your local newspaper, tell them what you need it for and ask if they have any discards.

    You need to do layers of 8-12 damp (soak them in a bucket of water first) sheet, then cover with soil. If you don't it will dry and fly away. But if you can cover with soil, or mulch, it would work. You can also try cardboard. Call local businesses for both. You can also try black plastic mulch, but it won't add organic matter to your soil.

    The issue with straw are seeds which might sprout and cause problems. It works great, just make sure you know what you're getting:

    When using hay or straw, you need to know your source and exactly what is in the bales.

    Hay and Straw Glossary
    A popular organic mulch, hay is commonly used to protect soil and plants from the elements, to line pathways, and to address various needs in the garden. What many people don't realize, however, is that various products are often labeled as "hay" at garden centers, but there are many different types of hay and straw that are commonly sold in bales. While they are easily confused, it's important for gardeners to become familiar with the differences.

    Salt hay
    Salt hay, or Spartina patens, is a grassy plant that grows in salt marshes and wetlands. Martha has long used salt hay in her gardens. It is useful for keeping weeds from growing in paths, preventing runoff, and keeping soil from turning into mud whenever it rains or the garden is watered. A layer of salt hay will keep soil moist and encourage worms to come to the surface, which will help to aerate the soil. It also makes an attractive path to walk on between garden rows. Salt hay is an ideal all-purpose mulch because its seeds won't grow away from salt water so it won't germinate in your garden.

    Golden straw
    What is commonly termed "Golden straw" is either oat straw, Avena, or wheat straw, Triticum. This straw is a by-product of the process of separating oat or wheat seeds from their stalks. Golden straw is often used as bedding in horse stalls; because there are no seeds, the horses won't eat it. This straw spreads nicely, and the lack of seeds means there is no risk of it germinating in your garden. It can be used in the same way as salt hay.

    Wheat straw
    An excellent choice for straw for use in the vegetable garden. Lay down six inches in height in the fall then direct sow seeds in the spring. No need to dig. There will be a handful of weak sprouts from seeds, just pull them out.

    Feed hay
    Just as its name implies, feed hay is used to feed livestock. Though inexpensive and plentiful, it is not a good choice for use in gardens because it is full of seeds. The main ingredient of feed hay is alfalfa, Medicago sativa. It also frequently contains flowers and seeds from many other plants and weeds such as clover and golden rod. These seeds are likely to germinate, resulting in a garden full of weeds rather than flowers and vegetables.

    Soil Solarization is another technique you can use, using clear 6 mil plastic. It has been around for a long time. It's effective for those who have patience and can plan ahead. A drawback is that it kills beneficial organisms and bacteria in the soil.

    What I do is lay roof shingles over any area where I want to create a bed. Within two weeks vegetation underneath is weak and pretty close to dead. I wait until the soil is crumbly underneath, sink my spade in and start hand sifting and pulling out everything then I crumble it back in the spot along with compost so it's light and airy and never walk on it again. Then I'll mulch with leaves and/or grass clippings. Usually the latter.

    I don't do huge areas of space at a time. Literally just lay them on top of the grass and overlap them a bit so light doesn't get thru. After a couple of weeks and after a rain check to see if the soil is "friable" (soil crumbles in your hands). Length of time after a rain will depend on whether your soil is sandy, clay, etc. For me it can be 2-3 days in certain parts of the yard, 1 day in another area of the yard. When you lift the shingles, you'll see there is little to no grass and what you can see is yellow or white. Sink a spade in and lift up, then just get in there with your hands and fingers and take a chunk and pull out the roots. This works fabulously with bermuda grass because the main runner stem is in tact but the roots have died off so all you have to do is follow the runners. Sometimes they're 4 feet long. But they're soooo much easier to get out! Much less work than tilling and sifting.

    Then crumble the soil lightly back into the spot with your fingers. As you crumble take out out any weed matter and into the compost pile they go. This is the best time to incorporate compost or any other soil amendments. Now don't walk on the area or you'll compact the soil.

    I'll take out large rocks as well since we grow rocks around here. I've responded to "Wanted: Rocks" on freecycle.org a couple of times so now they're gone and have found use to fill holes under fences so dogs don't escape.

    The problem with tilling bermuda grass is that when you do that, you create a lot of little pieces that are not easy to find and get out without a sifter. If one tiny piece with a node gets left behind, it'll take root and take off and you have the same problem all over again.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow...this is a lot of good information. I think I'll work on the garden in the fall to have it ready for next year. I think I'll go with all plants that I can grow in sets before putting in the ground (no direct seeding). I'll leave the sprinklers up (maybe go to drip the next year). Lol, I might as well increase the garden to 40' x 80' at the same time. I'll plan on tilling this fall and again in the early spring since I want to add 5 or 6 dump truck loads of compost anyway. That way I kill the weeds as they come up in fall (including the grasses) and again 4-6 weeks before planting. I'll mulch heavily with woodchips since I have an abundance of these (I have a big chipper that I use to clean up the branches and dead trees around the house area). Does anyone have a good source for appropriately sized containers that I can plant seeds before they go to the garden? Also, I'll probably need to start the plants in my workshop so I'll need a source for the proper lighting. Sounds like I'll need a large set of lights with all those plants.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Does anyone have a good source for appropriately sized containers that I can plant seeds before they go to the garden?

    Try Freecycle.org, ask for nursery pots and someone like me would respond to you and give you 100 of them. If you are not familiar with FreeCycle, search the forums for existing threads.

    Or use any container you can find, milk jugs, 2 liter bottles cut in half, etc. If you're going to do this, consider Winter Sowing. You can plant outside beginning December 21 (Winter Solstice) and plant seeds all winter without any heat or electric light source. There is an entire forum on this topic here at GardenWeb: Winter Sowing Forum. Many vegetables winter sow very well.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You are on target with many of your ideas. I think the chipped wood would be better if composted first before applying to your garden, especially if you plan to work it into the soil.

    I really prefer the advantages of black plastic mulch in controlling weeds in the planted row. I underlay driptape in less than 10% of the miles of blck plastic that I put down for everything from bedding plants to seeded plantings of crops like cucumbers, pumpkins and squash whereby I cut "X" slits only large enough to plant a few seeds. Weeds emerging between rows of plastic mulch are easily controlled by less labor intensive methods.

    To save yourself all that labor buy a roll of T-tape as Korney suggests and after working the ground in the spring lay out rows of it, then cover the entire garden with one big sheet of black plastic (30x 100) sheets of 4 mil. are ~$50 at Lowes). Let it warm the soil for a few days then plant all your plants in small holes along the rows, hook up your driptape lines and you won't have to weed the garden for the entire year. You'll have an earlier crop (warmer soil), a drought-proof crop (you provide all the water), and a much more productive crop (no weed competition). Laying some slab wood between rows will help to hold plastic in place and make planting & harvesting easier.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Bmoser,
    That was my other option. I went to the T-tape website. The product looks really good. I could integrate 80' rows of it in the 40' x 80' garden. What is the typical spacing between T-tape rows? It looked like they suggest two rows of crop per row of T-tape. Is this what you did? I'm starting to sway toward the black plastic again, lol.... There are definitely some real benefits. I'm assuming that you need to put a pressure reducer in for the T-tape use. I like the idea of a fertilizer in there as well. Hmmm...might as well add a 3/4" valve as well and put it on a timer. Do you have a problem with the black plastic heating up the ground too much in the summer??
    Thanks,
    Rick

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Not Bmoser and not sure I got all the details in this thread but I have irrigated with T-tape under black plastic for a number of years. In response to a couple of questions, the spacing between rows depends on the plant; the number of rows per line of T-tape could be variable. I have never had fewer than one line per row and have had two lines on a double row of strawberries. T-tape is too cheap to skimp in my opinion. You can also put a on/off valve on each line of T-tape off the main line if you like. Secondly, landscape fabric is not interchangable with black plastic; it will not deter weeds at all without some way (like mulch) to block the light. Third I have not had problems with excessive heat under black plastic but have grown mostly heat lovers like melons, cukes, strawberries, sweet potatoes, etc. on the plastic. In general, the heat is welcome early on and later, when it gets hot the plants take off and cover the plastic to significantly reduce the solar heating. Forth you do need a pressure regulator with T-tape, 10-20 PSI if I remember correctly. Fifth, it occurs to me that everything I have grown on plastic has been hilled; not that it's required but it has been. Finally, there are several inexpensive applicators of fertilizer that seem to work OK with liquid fertilizers or powders that mix well with water. The hardest part of using them is knowing exactly how much in total you should give each plant assuming equal distribution down a line. I haven't killed anything yet but there's always tomorrow.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Don't know if there is any typical spacing. I do plant many crops in double rows (bunching onions, all herbs, root crops, etc. and run driptape between the 5-6" rows so I water both rows together. These are off plastic mulch.

    For bulb onions I lay 2 driplines per 4' plastic row and plant 4 rows of onions, stradling the driplines. For most crops a single dripline per row is sufficient.

    {{gwi:73537}}
    Here is n example of my onion planting. Naturally you don't see the two driplines under the plastic and the dripline on the bunching onions was laid down later.

    I've always done the unthinkable in planting broccoli on black plastic. I think that even cole crops in the northeast benefit from the warmer soil. Mine loves it. I plant 2 rowes of broccoli per plastic row, same as I do for peppers and eggplants. the later two crops are planted with a water wheel planter and never get driptape- just hope for reasonable rain.

    For T-tape you only want 10# pressure. Even though I have a few 15# inline pressure reducers I go by feeling the T-tape to regulate line pressure and have had success with this method.

    I'm adding fertilizer (Calciun nitrate) to my broccoli and lettuce crops today. I have a Dosmatic injector but find it simpler to just screw in a Miracle Grow hose unit with a male hose fitting on the outgoing end (they are available if you shop around). That way I just thread the Qt. container of fertilizer on the ingoing garden hose and turn the water on. One of the cheap brass siphoning units also will work provided you have sufficient water flow.

    A timer would work but I vary water cycles so much that a timer interferes with my intentions. I water mostly to the point of finger soil test moisture sufficiency.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Bmoser,
    I really like your set up. Here is my list of veggies that we would like to plant next year. Do you have a suggestion for T-tape lines per row? Also, where do you buy it? Does it last more than 1 year?

    Tomatoes (single row)
    Zukes (single row)
    Summer Squash (single row)
    Cucumbers (single row on the side of a trellis)
    Cantelopes (single row)
    Beans (double row about 2' apart)
    Watermellons (single row)
    Pumpkins (single row)
    Peppers (double row about 2' apart)
    Corn (single row)

    (each veggie does not get a single row. Some get more than a row, some get less)

    My rows will be about 3' wide with a little less than 3' between rows. There will be 7 80' rows (minus a walk path).

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My situation is a bit different from yours, I have narrow (3-8')beds around the perimeter of the house, as well as along a split rail fence, & a number of containers. I've been using sprinklers (gosh, I hate them, they all seem to break w/in a season)mostly for the lawn & soaker hoses for the beds. I'd be out most mornings at 7, dragging sprinklers around, setting the kitchen timer.

    I wanted to simplify my watering, so I just switched to a Mister Landscaper system-it's the 1/2" tubing, w/ all kinds of misters, as well as patio/container 1/4" tubing & drip emitters. I think I've layed not quite 200' in the back, another 75' in the front, still tweaking & haven't programmed the timer yet, but I think it will be a big timesaver for me. I'll try & check back at the end of summer to let you know how successful it's been, looks like it's going to be another long, hot, dry summer here in NoVA...

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would consider drip again.

    Drip irrigation has many types of sprayers, drippers, shubbery spikes that can deliver water in many patterns/shapes. Drip doesn't have to be just a tube dripping water at the base of the plant.

    I use drip spikes that can be adjusted anywhere from a large pattern spray down to just a dribble.

    Even in you stop watering the weeds, weeds will grow.
    My neighbors garden was growing weeds just fine in a complete drought condition this year.

    My garden is 75% containers and 25% in ground trenches with about 90% of it all on a drip system.

    I have some pic's, see the link

    Here is a link that might be useful: My container garden

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Macheske, the only crop that you listed that I would put two driplines per single plant row is cucumbers. I find that they thrive on water and I usually try to give them twice as much water during any watering event. I've never planted corn on plastic.

    I should have mentioned suppliers earlier. Nolts Irrigation supply, Leola, PA and Reiffs Irrigation, Lewisburg, Pa offer an identical catelog that provides everything you'll need although some fittings like the garden hose adaptors and header tube plugs can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot. You can probably find Nolts on the web.

    You find a choice of T-Tape options. If i was going to buy one type I'd opt with the 8" drip emitter spacing. I use the layflat 1 1/4" tubing for the header pipes and for the connectors I like the thumb twist shutoffs (You can see the red knobs on the picture next to black layflat header tube). they push into the drilled layflat and then you push the T-Tape end onto them and tighten it. At the opposite end of the row either tie the tape onto a stake or fold it over and slide a short piece of t-Tape over the folded end to seal it.

    I never reuse T-tape a second year UNDER PLASTIC. I do reuse last years tape between exposed rows where I can spot leaks and quicky splice them. Splice connectors are handy to have available but I seldom use them unless I poke a tomato cage through the tape when installing them.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with el34. Drip is much more flexible in regards to making changes, plus lasts many years. Rows don't need to be perfectly straight, matter of fact they don't need to be straight at all. You can even find fittings at Home Depot or local nurseries in a pinch. You can insert individual drippers exactly where you want them, and you can shut them off if you need to without effecting other plants (say, onions or garlic that need early season water, then shut them down... or similar for cantelopes & watermelons near harvest time.) You can also have drippers/emitters of many different flow rates (gph) on the same line if your plants have different needs, unlike T-tape.

    I'm using the same drip hose now for over 5 or 6 years. As my garden changes, I just shut down a section or individual plant. If next year I grow something with different needs there, or relocate a type of plant somewhere else, I just update minimal parts (a 29 cent dripper) or extend or add a line--quarter inch line is about $4 per 100ft roll, or about $15 with non-clogging drippers preinstalled every 6 inches (or 12".)

    For shorter runs, you can use 1/4" tubing with non-clogging emitters preinstalled, or plain 1/4" tubing with a dripper on the end, or even inline drippers of various rates (like half gallon/hr to 2 gal/hr, or even 0-25gph adjustable drippers.) For longer runs, you can get half inch (like .600" or .625" ID) hose with or without prespaced emitters. You can run half inch lines the length and then tap in 1/4" lines off of it to individual plants or groups of plants if desired. You can even convert existing sprinkler systems to drip.

    For fertilizer injection, I use an EZ-FLO (E-Z GRO) 3 gallon system, I think it's adjustable from something like 100 to 10000 gallons of water per gallon of fertilizer mix. I think cost was about $59, but they sell smaller versions for less.

    For automation, I use 4 control valves on a digital 4-zone timer I got on ebay for under $20 I think. I originally started out with one 3/4" control valve but last year broke everything down into 3 separate zones--tomatoes/peppers & raised beds, giant pumpkins & corn, and container tomatoes & peppers--and added three 1" valves. It even has an adjustable rain sensor to automatically disable on rainy days. It waters each zone at preprogrammed times for however many minutes I want, X times per day or week, every other day, etc. All I really have to do is remember to keep the faucet turned on all the time!

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow....great information everyone. Those of you who use drip irrigation, do you put the main line under or over the mulch (I think I'll go with black plastic next year). I can see doing drip with most of the plants. It doesn't seem like it makes sense with corn unless I can get it with preinstalled drippers. Is there a line length limit on the 1/4" preinstalled drip lines? I would have to go with 7 80' runs. I guess I could reroute my main to the center of the garden and go with 14 40' runs.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Like many here I use T tape. I use the 8" spacing for greens and 1' and 2' spacing for everything else. Because my soil is sandy I have to run the 8" T tape every 6" through the greens beds. My opinion is that weeds and how you water are very much connected. When you use overhead irrigation you cover non crop areas and water weeds. When you use something like T tape you water near the plant and the rest of the areas stay dry. That leads to less problems with weeds. I'd suggest buying your irrigation supplies from somewhere as DripWorks and not a box store. The difference in quality is huge.

    If I could grow an onion bed like bmosers I could die happy! Tom

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ok....I think I have a plan. I made a jpg of the plan. How do I post it here?
    Thanks,
    Rick

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What is T-Tape? I went to the web site and it just talks about the benefits -- not what it is. Great info on this thread, thanks from a lurker.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just learned myself what T-tape is. The best information I have found so far is on www.dripworks.com, the website that goat man mentioned.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A nice illustrated driptape discription can be found at another supplier, Robert Marvel, that I forgot to mention earlier:

    http://www.robertmarvel.com/Irrigation_Tape_Queen_Gil.html

    The Queen Gil tape is a "Cadilac" of tapes but the principle is arguably the same as T-Tape.

    Learn about the systems and get a few ideas of how you want to proceed but before ordering you would be best to compare prices. Nolts Produce Supplies sells their 4100' rolls of driptape for about half of what Dripworks charges and if your paid order is received by the end of the year you can save another 8%.

    Goat Man has a good point of water conservation using driptape vs. overhead irrigation. There are other benefits too...I laid a previous years section of t-tape between a double row of beets in our early days of the "Drought of '07" just so I could pull out vs. pull off the small weeds that were coming among the beets. With the drip tape the entire double row is wet, yet you can kneel on dry ground to pull the weeds.

    If you plant anything in dry soil it may take weeks to germinate but if you can put driptape on the row you can often get more uniform germination in half the time and often you can get seedlings established before a hard rainfall washes fine seeds from the planting row.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Drip or T-Tape systems sure look like the way to go for large gardens or commercial growers, but here's another perspective for small scale gardeners such as myself. My garden is about 100' long and avg. 12' wide. I use a combination of landscaper cloth and grass clippings for mulch. I use soaker hoses for irrigation since I already had several from previous years. Yes, I know they clog and become ineffective after several years. My solution to that is to punch a small hole with an ice pick at each tomato or pepper plant or anywhere else I want the water. It's cheap and does the job.
    John A

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ok...here's my plan. I've gone back and forth. I could still use some help in placing the plants in the right row, using the right size T-tape, etc. What do you think? T-tape just seems so much easier to use than drip.

    {{gwi:73538}}

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The poly used in drip is rated to withstand UV, fully exposed to sunlight, for 30 years. T-Tape is good stuff, but can't even begin to HANG with DRIP.

    Drip is infinitely more versatile, even if it would take you 20 minutes more to install. And as far as not watering weeds, T-Tape will water at every increment of measure, of which you purchase, whether there is a plant there or not.

    I told you we did this for a living for many years, and tried most everything out there. Micro/Drip is untouchable as far as efficiency, durability and versatility.

    You have no way of selectively shutting down any one of the T-Tape emitters. T-Tape will not last as long as M/D and there is no way to regulate how much water is applied to a given area. Any T-Tape emitters that plug-up stay plugged.

    Macheske, I don't have a dog in this hunt, I just wanted to share some 30 years of experience with you, including many failures and disappointments.

    Every time I read this, it sounds as though I'm getting an attitude over this. I promise I am not. Just wantin' you to have what will serve you perfectly. From the looks of the drawing of your garden , it will be beautiful. I hope you and your garden are blessed and bountiful!

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Some suggestions:

    1) use 3/4" schedule 40 (NOT schedule 120) pipe for your irrigation. Do not be afraid to liberally apply glue to the joints.

    2) be sure to locate your valves in the highest point of your garden so that any excess water drains away from the valves.

    3) place a manual drainage valve at the lowest point of each watering zone. This allows you to totally drain the system going into winter to prevent pipe cracking.

    4) I like to use 1/4" soaker hose for much of my garden. It works great to wet larger areas such as beds of lettuce, herbs, etc

    5) For corn and other larger plants, I run a 3/4" soaker hose along each row. They sell these in gardening stores -- they are meant to attach to a standard hose fitting. You can buy plastic adapters to build this into your Schedule40 piping.

    hope this helps

    Wayne

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Bigoledude,
    I've been reading your posts very carefully and have been taking them into consideration. Like I said, I'm teetering. I've used drip before for irrigation around the house I had in New Mexico. I did use the "junk" from the box store and it gave me nothing but problems. The emitters would clog (mostly because the water there came out in chunks rather than ran out - really hard water). I also had emitters just fall out when it got really hot. That is probably because it was the junk from the box stores. I figure I have until the spring to finalize the plan. I thought about using T-tape for only the corn, beans and strawberries but since T-tape likes to be at a lower pressure that would just add additional piping and I couldn't rotate or change crops. As you can see I put a valve on each row so that I could shut it down if need be. The big reason that I have been/was leaning toward T-tape is that I could just throw the T-tape away at the end of the year, remove the plastic and till easily. With the drip I would have to disconnect, and then store the drip lines. 7 80' lines take up room. Don't give up on me yet!! I still haven't made up my mind. Any suggestion on emitters? How would you handle a double row of beans with the drip? I would hate to have to put an emitter on each bean plant. That would take forever, especially trying to use the little punch tools that they sell for drip. I remember I resorted to a hand drill last time. I appreciate your passionate response. I'm trying to figure out how to make drip work on the beans now, lol.... Would you have a suggestion on what size emitters to use for each crop. I'm worried about balancing it such that I can just turn the system on and leave it on for an hour or two a day.

    Wayne,
    I always use schedue 40. I've put in 4 sprinkler systems in the past. I totally agree with you. As far as drainage, the lines would be disconnected in the fall and blown out. I already have most of those lines in for sprinklers. I also have a backflow preventer on the line. The garden right now is 20 x 80 and has 10 sprinklers in it. Do you use soaker hose on the same lines as you drip?? I'd like to set up the system and then only turn on the entire system if possible, not worrying about switching valves, etc.

    THANKS FOR ALL THE GREAT RESPONSES! I'll tell you what I decide.
    Rick

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Bigoledude,
    If I decide to go with drip I think I would need to run two 1/2" lines for the bean double rows. I checked the GPM that I would need. Do you pressure limit to 30 psi or 20 psi. It's hard to tell from the websites.

    If I put the following emitter size on each plant:
    Veggie GPH
    Beans 0.5
    Cantaloupe 2
    Corn 1
    Cucumbers 4
    Peppers 1
    Tomatoes 4
    Zucchini 4
    Summer Squash 4
    Watermelons 4
    Strawberries 2
    Pumpkins 4

    I get a total flow of 13.3 GPM! Is that reasonable? How would you size each emitter?
    Thanks,
    Rick

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Macheske - just want to offer words of encouragement no matter what plan you eventually adopt toward controlling the weed problem. Every gardener gets on top of the weeds somehow after a few seasons. I hope you will consider trying the raised bed approach, even if you only build one long narrow bed on one end of your space. Only needs to be 6" to 10" high. When well-mulched, the weeds will have little foothold in a raised bed, and you will be able to compare "weed" stress between the raised bed and the "in-the-ground" areas. Will help with water retention, too, believe me. Just a thought. Best of luck to you.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks raisemybeds. My beds end up being raised. They end up about 6" above the aisles. I till the ground at least once a year so I can't put up timber to line them. Eventually I might get to that but until I feel that the soil that I'm building is good I don't think I can. The ground that I started with was an old field that hadn't been worked in 10+ years. It was a mess of brambles and long field grass. I've got the brambles under control by bush hogging the 10 acres that I have every other week during the growing season. Now I have mostly short field grass. Anyway...I'm trying to turn clay and about 3" of top soil into good rich soil but I can't do it in a single year in a garden this size (next year 40' x 80'). Who knows, I might increase the size again the year after! This year the squash and zukes are doing real well after a slow start. I think we've eaten it every day for the past two weeks. The tomatoes are slow but should start producing in about 2 weeks. The cucumbers have just kicked in and now are overtaking the weeds. The corn is a failure. I think we'll end up with watermellons, cantaloupe, and peppers. The herbs and carrots were over taken by crab grass. I'm adding 30 yards of compost this fall! I'll post pictures after I till it this fall.
    Thanks,
    Rick

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Macheske, I've never been successful in growing corn in one straight row. I don't think it pollinates properly. You might want to think about grouping your corn in a square pattern. Just a suggestion. Good luck and have fun with your garden.
    John A

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It sounds like you have a good supply of wood chips for mulch. To work w/ your weed problem, I'd try a heavy newspaper mulch, covered w/ compost & wood chips. It may not be as easy as using black plastic, but it would probably be more beneficial for your soil, & more flexible, for rearranging plants.

    My 1/2" tubing for the watering system I've set up is on top of the beds, which are mostly 'lasagna' beds of newspaper or brown paper, compost, manure, anything I can find to top it off...the best thing is all the earthworms in the beds, even though it's horrible, dense clay....

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Rick, here's a drip system using various types of fittings, emitters, distribution manifolds (some adjustable), inline drippers, pot drippers, adjustable drippers, inline shutoff valves, and both 1/4" & 1/2" tubing with non-clog pre-installed emitters (6" & 12" spacing.) It also has a fertilizer injector and 3 zones. It's a very challenging garden to do because of various heights, paths, raised beds, containers, many different types of plants & plants' needs, a driveway, etc. It has tomatoes, peppers, corn, watermelons, perennials, garlic, onions, peas, brugmansia, strawberries, raspberries, giant pumpkins, etc.

    I agree corn should be planted in blocks of at least 4 rows rather than a single row. You can put your corn rows next to each other and fill in the path with plants too, or plant more than 1 "row" wide per row, or even many "hills" per row.

    The corn in the pic has 1/4" dripline with 1/2gph pre-installed drippers every 6" (1gph per foot.) Rows are branched off of a distribution head that has dime adjustments for each of the outlets to shut off any line at any time. (Yes, you use a dime to turn a screw in/out to control flow of each outlet.)

    The pumpkins have 1/2" dripline with pre-installed 1gph drippers every foot. The same line zigzags through the strawberries and watermelons.

    The driveway container peppers and tomatoes use similar 1/4" line with the pre-installed drippers positioned over the containers. Many lines have shutoff valves to turn the line off when not needed.

    The beds have distribution heads with plain lines going to each plant on the rightmost bed, and the output is changed by changing an emitter in a distribution head; adjustable emitters were manually inserted into 1/2" lines on the bottom bed, and the black fabric beds have 1/4" lines with pre-installed 1/2gph drippers run off a distribution head with shutoff knobs for each line built into the head.

    I liked the 1/4" line with pre-installed drippers so much I converted many of the larger lines. Cherry tomatoes in containers near the middle have pot drippers that connect to a 1/2" main line via 1/4" lines w/shutoffs. The triangular cages near the bottom have inline pot drippers. The black fabric pepper bed uses 1/4" tubing with emitters pre-installed every 12 inches. The garlic bed uses three 1/4" lines with pre-installed drippers every 6" and shutoff valves for each line.

    I've probably skipped a lot of things (1/2 drums get adjustable drippers, perennials along fence 1/4" line with preinstalled drippers, etc.) The fertilizer injector (the cheap model) cannot be under pressure constantly (faucet on but valves closed) so a "master" valve gets inserted before it. Anytime one of the 3 valves open, the master valve opens first, so there's no pressure on the injector and water only flows to it when a valve is turned on. This way, you can use one $39-$59 fert injector system for the whole system (versus the need for a pressurized fertilizer injector system at $200+) and the fert only goes to the open valve.

    My point is, while this is a really complicated system, (even partially intensive/square foot gardening principles in some places) it shows the flexibility of drip. There are limitations on 1/4" line lengths too, (I think somewhere between 20-30ft) but you break those limitations by simply adding a ditribution head or punching a hole in a 1/2" line with a $1 tool and connecting additional 1/4" lines off it to get around the length limit.

    I guess you'd have to decide if you want to take the easiest way out (Tape) or do it right the first time with extra options available, plus future changes possible (Drip.) If you pull a diseased or dead plant, will you be watering an empty spot? Do your plants have different watering requirements and can you make changes? Can you branch off and add a new spot easily? If a line plugs, will it still provide for the rest of the plants in the row? Can you bury the line? Is it repairable or can a section be bypassed or shut off, individually or completely? These are some questions you'll have to ask yourself, only you will know what your needs and limits are.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark

    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:73536}}

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Mark,
    Your plan is awesome. It makes a lot of sense. My wife always says that I make a plan to go to the bathroom, lol. I'll definitely block the corn into multiple rows. Based on your comments, and others, it seems like I should do a corn square, basically, half rows to get to 20' x 20' of corn. Also, based on the suggestions, I'll go to 9" with the corn. What I wish I had suggestions on was the relative amount of water needed for each plant. For example, if I plant cukes with a 4gph emitter, what would be the equivalant dripper for the tomatoes?
    Hmmmmmm

    I need a plan.

    BTW...the zukes and summer squash are doing extremely well this year, even amoung the weeds!

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    For tomatoes, most of my in-bed plants use 1gph emitters (or 1 foot average of two half gallon emitters.) Ones in containers in the driveway use 1gph and cherry toms use either 0.8 or 1.5gph... so 1gph is about average. I think more important is how often you'll water. I water usually daily. 15-20 minutes, 2x/day, so about a half gallon to 2/3rds a gallon per tomato or pepper plant per day. I usually need to water daily because of so many containers (I grow most tomatoes & peppers in 4 or 5 gallon buckets.) You can water less days but for longer times if you don't have containers and just in-ground "beds."

    Most veggies get by on an inch of water per week, some more, like giant pumpkins, melons, etc. The corn, with 6" emitter spacing, it saturates much of the soil that the drippers don't need to actually line up with a plant anyways. Same with beans--you don't need an emitter for each plant. My rightmost corn bed for example was actually causing my aisle/path to get wet so I quit using a dripline per row and am cutting back to one dripline between 2 close rows... see the garlic bed near the bottom of the pic too--3 lines for 6 rows. And my left corn bed (which is actually mostly compost poured over my blacktop driveway) I'm contemplating shutting off every other line... of course it's possible because of the Raindrip distribution heads--they use a dime to adjust flow to each outlet individually.

    I think your gph figures you posted are really high. For most veggies, I'd stay in the 0.5 to 1.5gph range and just increase the time if needed. And compost acts like a sponge and absorbs and holds water really well. I'm just using municipal compost made of mostly grass, leaves, etc, from a nearby suburb... $13 gets me about a pickup truck bed full.

    BTW, I saw a lot of people mention Dripworks, but I've been using The Drip Store (www.dripirrigation.com) since about 1999 with great results and I think even better prices. They even now started shipping with your choice of delivery including First Class & Priority Mail for those who think UPS prices are outrageous as of late.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks Korney,
    So if I go with:
    Veggie GPH
    Beans 0.5 (single line for 2 rows)
    Cantaloupe 2
    Corn 1
    Cucumbers 2
    Peppers .5
    Tomatoes 2
    Zucchini 2
    Summer Squash 2
    Watermelons 2
    Strawberries 1
    Pumpkins 2

    Do you think that would be better? I was hoping to get that kind of input.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I would do Tomatoes = 1.

    The only cucurbits I grow are AG pumpkins, and some watermelons or melons on occasion, that's about it, so except for the AG pumpkins, I use whatever I have in the 0.8 to 1.5 range for them. If it helps, I planted a watermelon on each side of a half-inch line, about 18" apart, and perhaps equal distance between 2 1gph emitters in that line--see my pic, just left of the dark green windmill; the watermelon is labeled "110" for 110lb Hunt (the grower.) I had a Charleston Grey to the left of that dripline but pulled it yesterday and put another 110 Hunt in its place.

    That would still average out to about 1gph, though the roots will grow outwards and that line has 1gph emitters built-in every foot--it zigzags under black plastic (dark gray in the pic) thru strawberries (red-pink in circles in the black plastic) and over to the giant pumpkin.

    What I did was keep the emitter size small on most of the garden and broke out certain things that needed more watering (like container plants, corn & giant pumpkins, etc) into separate zones that get longer watering times. Without getting too technical, you don't want to surpass the output of your water supply or valves. Somewhere I have a scanned pic of the garden a couple years ago with notes on gph, I'll try to find that and post it or a link.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Korney,
    I'll check the throughput of the valves tomorrow. I have another tap on that line so it should be easy.
    Thanks again for the help!
    Rick

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My yard changed over the last few years, I think I added another 6-12 tomatoes but the #'s I had in 2005 where 175gph plus 80-90gph for the AG pumpkins. Back then that was:

    34 peppers
    61 tomatoes
    2 melons
    2 watermelons
    2 tomatillos in 20 gallon container
    20-25 strawberries plus any daughter plants
    55-60 corn
    numerous peas (120+) & pole beans (20-30), shallots (15-20), herbs, perennials, chives, bee balm, etc.

    And 3 crowded AG pumpkins... total for everything was about 250. That was all on 1 valve from dripirrigation.com and an AC digital box.

    Last year, I bought 3 valves and a 4-zone digital box on ebay for around $50 for everything including shipping (new, unused.) I was going to redo everything to 3 zones but I had to order some other fittings and stuff from the Drip Store so bought 3 valves and some manifold & fittings from them at the same time that was the same brand & style as I already had so never used the stuff from ebay! I bought a Toro plastic outdoor box on ebay for around $10 to house the Netafim/Motorola 6-zone digital control box & had a friend mount it & wire it up on the corner of my house. I ran 7-conductor wiring to the valves and have a couple extra unused conductors already in place in case I expand to 6 zones in the future. Always think ahead!

    Hope this helps and good luck with what you decide on.

    Mark