Drip! Drip! Drip!….Drip! Drip! Drip!…Drip Irrigation! Drip Irrigation!

Sing the title to Shake Your Booty and you’re in the mood to do some Disco Gardening!!   Click the link and play it in the background while you read!

This new Silver Reflective Mulch is about as Disco as a garden can get.  The aphids will be shaking their booty in someone else’s garden this year.  I was so glad that so many of you came out and got the SRM yesterday…it’s a bit of work to install, but you’ll reap the benefits of it all summer long.

You don’t have to use drip irrigation with the SRM, you can run soaker hoses under it or you can hand water your plants if you don’t have too many.  One thing’s for sure…you won’t have to water nearly as much when you use SRM…moisture retention is phenomenal. Just make sure you don’t over water.  Once a week is plenty once your plants are established.  You might have to water twice a week if we get a REALLY hot spell this summer…let your plants tell you when they need water.

Drip irrigation is the most effective way to water plants, but the initial cost and difficulty of installation keeps a lot of people from trying it.  I used soaker hoses for several years before taking the plunge and buying a drip irrigation kit from DripWorks.  I bought the Heart of the Garden kit and the Individual Plants add on and the Sampler Kit.  The Sampler Kit was fun to use and introduced me to the different possibilities of DI, but it’s not really necessary to buy.

The kit comes with everything you need to irrigate about 50 plants.  It comes with a filter, a pressure regulator, mainline tubing, a hole punch, 1 gallon per hour emitters, goof plugs, and a bunch of other stuff you’ll use.  You can buy all this stuff individually at Lowes or Ace, but it’s so much easier to get the kit.

To start, you connect the filter and pressure regulator to your garden hose.  My hose comes out of the bottom of the valve at the bottom of the picture.  I put a shut off valve there for convenience.  You can connect the hose to your house spigot or to your rain barrels if t you have them.

Attach your hose or splitter valve to the filter.  A filter is necessary to avoid mineral deposits from clogging your emitters.  At the end of the filter, connect a pressure regulator to keep from blowing out your emitters with too much water pressure.

You then connect your mainline tubing to the end of the pressure regulator.  There is a special fitting for this that’s included in the kit. The connectors are really easy to use.  You just slide the tubing over the barb in the fitting, then tighten the knurled nut to secure it.  The tubing is easy to cut with a knife or box cutter or heavy scissors.  There are “T” connectors and inline connectors so you can configure the tubing for your garden.

From this point on, you just run your mainline tubing through your beds wherever you need it.  You can stake it down with special brackets or use garden staples to hold it in place.  I like to zip tie it to my tomato cages when I can.

Once the mainline tubing is installed, you have several emitter options.  The most common is the 1 gph take apart emitter.  You punch a hole in the tubing with the punch tool in the kit and then snap in the emitter.  If you put your mainline in next to your plants, you can just let it drip right down to the plant like in this picture:

If your mainline is too far from your plant, you can attach a section of 1/4 inch tubing to the emitter and run this to the base of your plant.  Put a “bug plug” in the end of the 1/4 inch tubing to prevent it from clogging.

Another option besides individual emitters is inline drip tubing with built in emitters or T-Tape.  This stuff works really well for smaller plants such as peppers and cucumbers.  It’s tubing that has inline emitters every 5, 9 or 12 inches.   You just run this tubing along your rows, plug one end with a goof plug, then attach it to an emitter…I use 2 gph emitter for these applications.  Here you can see my peppers spaced 1 foot apart in staggered rows.  I have three lengths of emitter tubing running down this bed.

One last thing you have to do is put a figure 8 end connector on the mainline tubing and turn on the water!  Make sure you go through your finished system and make sure each emitter is dripping where it is supposed to.  Use garden staples and zip ties to keep the tubing and emitters in place.

Below are some shots of my finished pepper garden I planted this morning.  Notice the 1 foot staggered spacing.  I planted the peppers first, installed the drip line, then laid the SRM film over the whole bed.  I use a box cutter or scissors to cut an “X” over each plant, then gently pull the plant through the “X”.  I place a stake next to each plant to tie it to as it grows.  It’s a lot of work now, but there is virtually nothing to do with this bed the rest of the year except pick peppers!

As always…if you have any questions about your garden, feel free to send me an e-mail or post a comment.  I’ll be sending out the E-vite for the Tomato Tasting in the next few weeks.  Mark those calendars for August 7th!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Drip irrigation basics.  This is a good start although I have advanced my system quite a bit over t… […]

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