Sunday, October 11, 2009

If You Ain't Drippin', You Ain't Livin'

I installed drip irrigation for the first time this spring and I will never turn back. It's that good! The plants have grown so much better this year, as compared to last. And the best part - I don't have to spend hours with the hose, wondering if I've watered long enough yet. I don't even have to think about it now, the drip lines are on a timer. The slow, deep watering is the closest thing you can get to a soaking, gentle rain.

I'm sure some people are afraid of the "plumbing skills" required to install drip. I know I was! But it's really not that difficult. Really.

The simplest type of drip line attaches directly to your spigot. You can get a splitter, so you still have a place for your hose, etc.

Or, if you have an underground system of PVC, you can attach your drip to that line. That's what I have in the main vegetable garden in the backyard.

There are lots of websites that show you how to install the system properly. Just google "how to install drip irrigation". I learned a lot here. But don't let that website make you think it's too complicated. It's not.

I spent less than $100 on my system. I really like the "drip tape" that has emitters pre-installed. (Emitters are sophisticated holes where the water comes out.) Plastic pipe with pre-installed emitters means that you don't have to spend hours trying to insert little plastic emitters into your 1/2" plastic pipe. I did just this for the greenhouse. Trust me, it's no fun. The drip line that I installed in the vegetable garden this year comes with emitters spaced every 18", which seems to work just fine. You can buy little T and L fittings and endcaps.

I water for 2 hours twice a week - actually the timer and drip line do the watering, not me. That might be too much for some people with clay soil, but I have very sandy soil. One of my lines (in the front yard) is currently not attached to a timer. So I'll warn you that I've been known to turn it on and forget about it. Two hours comes and goes and I've totally forgotten. Sometimes I've watered for 24 hours - not good. I've learned to set a timer on the microwave (or any other time-keeping device) to remind me to shut it off.

If you get a lot of rain in your area throughout the year, then lucky you! But for the rest of us, drip is the way to go. Especially in CA, where we basically have a monsoon climate with lots of rain in the winter and not a drop for the whole summer.

Go on, get your drip on!


Autumn Belle said...

I guess with these timer drips, you don't even have to worry about the garden plants whenever going on a few days vacation.

Stefaneener said...

I so hope that the new watering system is going to make a big difference. We went with soak hoses instead of drips -- they seem to work pretty well. I must get a timer for the whole system. And do the gray water thing for the fruit trees. Fortunately we do laundry a lot. . .

Michelle said...

Oh yeah, drip is the only way to go here. I use 1/4 inch tubing that has emitters imbedded every 12 inches. I even use it in pots. It doesn't seem to be available in stores around here so I get it mailorder in 500 foot rolls!

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

We installed one 2 summers ago and loved it. Last summer though we had so much rain that we hardly used it at all. Next year we want to use it for the pots. I spend so much time watering the containers on my back deck that it would really be worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

I was also thinking of somthing similar, but I have an issue with water pressure as Im using water from a well for garden... Good luck with drip system!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. I've been wanting to install a drip system as well. You helped provide the incentive! Glad you are loving it.

Jackie said...

Autumn Belle, you are right. I have a new-found freedom.

Stefaneer, gray water is a possibility for use in the future, as well!

Wow, Michelle, 500 foot rolls! I wish I had space for a garden like yours.

EMC, that's a good idea to use if for containers...I might have more containers if they were on drip!

vrtlarica, I wish I knew of an easy solution for low water pressure...

Miss Daisy, glad to hear you are more inspired now!