micro irrigation

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I'm thinking about micro irrigation (drip irrigation) for my micro garden. I've noticed that leaving the garden alone for a few days during the dog days of summer is not beneficial.
Any pointers om either equipment or technique?
Jeff
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It is good to get one of the little Raindrip brochures at your local home improvement stores--it outlines the types of hoses, connections, and outlets they offer, and helps you figure out what you need. If your local place doesn't sell Raindrip, see if they have informational brochures on a different brand.
I got started by buying a basic Raindrip kit. (I would assume other brands have similar kits.) It comes with a sampling of their products, and it's a good way to get acquainted with them. After you set up a line or two, you'll start to intuitively figure out what you need and can then go to the home improvement store and get specific supplies. (NOTE: in places like Lowe's and Home Depot, this stuff is in the Plumbing section rather than the Garden section.)
I use 6' hoses and splitters to maintain lots of different lines all over my yard. (You can't have too many splitters, as far as I'm concerned!) This enables me to open just a few streams at any given time, so I can rotate my watering.
The only caution I have is that you need to check on the drippers and connections regularly, to make sure the drips are not clogged and that the lines stay intact. There have been many times my pipes have popped off of their main lines and deposited gallons of water all over the yard. (Keeping a rather low flow helps to ease this.) The drippers have worked pretty well for two years, but every now and then one will get clogged and will need to be replaced. It's best to notice this before the plant is affected.
If you ever want to talk about various configurations, let me know and I will be more than happy to share some of my garden plans. I largely operate out of rows of 3X6 foot raised wooden beds, but I've got all sorts of other configurations too. Despite the occasional clogged dripper or popped-out pipe, I find drip irrigation to be immensely beneficial, and I highly recommend it. --S.
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Suzanne D. wrote:

OK, the kits look pretty cheap, as cheap as anything these days!

I like this idea, instead of one serpentine line, that way you can reposition the drippers easily as the garden changes. Are there valves or adjustments to control the rate, or is it all done by time and fixed rates? It looks like some timers have multiple controls.

I have a small enough garden to check all the plants.

Thanks. Let me get started and I'll take up your offer of advice later. I'm a bit too ignorant at the moment!
Jeff

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I got mine for about $20. It's cheaper to buy the components individually, but the kit gives you a "Dummies" version! Your description of your garden elsewhere would probably use a small kit like this perfectly.

One thing to note is that, while it is possible to remove drippers and plug them up (they sell plugs for this very reason), it is rather difficult. the drippers off can be time consuming, so I generally buy new supplies instead of trying to re-use old ones. But it is definitely possible to re-use the old ones if you have the patience for it. One good thing to do is to lay out one main line, and put a single 1/4" hole near each bed or plot, from which you run a 1/4" tube that you can alter from season to season as necessary. Since I rotate the types of vegetables in my beds, I sometimes need closely-spaced drippers, and other times I need more widely-spaced drips, or sprayers, or soakers, etc. Putting a single hole on the main line for each bed gives you the versatility to change things up according to your needs. It's pretty easy to change out the 1/4" tubes every season.

There are flow controls and whatnot, but I don't use them. I use only the barest of technology, and just open my splitters enough to get the flow that I want. I use splitters ABOVE other splitters so that I can adjust the flow rate initially, then not have to adjust it again, but simply open the necessary splitter valve! (Didn't I say I love splitters?) It isn't uncommon for my water to go through three or four splitters before it gets to its final destination. So much easier to open and close a couple of valves every day than to open each one individually and re-adjust the flow rate every time. Anyway (after this long-winded rant that has little to do with anything you asked!), you can look into the timers and flow checks and all that stuff, but I can't give any practical advice on these because I simply don't utilize them. --S.
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soaking hoses made from recycled tires and see whether they're suitable. A flow-restricting washer ensures that water just oozes from the hose along its length, with no spray or puddling. I've found that two 25-footers, with an average flow rate of .75 US gal/min (each), work well in each of my 3'x8' raised beds. I charge mine through a simple hose-end valve manifold; the hose has a (inexpensive) 25psi inline regulator to provide a fairly constant flow rate: I'm on a private residential water well so system pressure is variable.     If there is a hassle, it is moving the supply hose from bed to bed but I am able to rotate watering easily and to monitor volume simply by timing.
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Balvenieman wrote:

I think with my separated plant locations I'll go with the drippers. I do have a friend with continuous beds (and in sorry need of watering). I see the soakers cheaply and I think this would be a good plan for her.

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Soakers are great for dense rows, like carrots. For larger plants, like tomatoes, which need to be spaced a bit further, drippers are better. You'll eventually get to know when it's best to use a soaker, dripper, or spray. I use all three, in different applications. --S.
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jeff wrote:

How big is a microgarden? Is it indoors or out?
David
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

Outdoors. 6 cukes, 4 cantalope, 3 honeydew, 2 tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, zuchimi, 3 blueberries, a peach, a grape and a pathetic strawberry.
"Peanuts", by the groups standard!
Jeff

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jeff wrote:

In these parts you can buy a kit which would handle that, or make it up yourself. You need a roll of 1/2 in polypipe, a couple of dozen drippers on drop lines, some joiners, plugs, bends and tees and a timer switch to go on the tap. The installation is fairly simple, the shop should have sample layouts etc to guide you. You will need to experiment with the number and position of drippers and the length of watering to get the right application of water for your water pressure and layout, aiming for few deep waterings rather than many shallow ones. Put the drippers under the mulch! Remember to adjust the regime according to the weather as hot dry conditions will need much more water than cool damp.
David
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wrote:

Get a pressure regulator. A 3/4" tubing (IIRC) take the water to the 1/4" drip line. The drip lines are connected to the tubing with a piercing tool and connectors. The emitters on the 1/4" drip line will deliver a predetermined amount of water (.25, .50, 1.0 gal/hr) at intervals of 6" or 12" (at least that is what I use) for 20 ft.. Connectors are 1/4" straight, right angle, or T. You'll also need some little plastic posts to hold the tubing in place. I haven't used a timer but that should be easy. I turn mine on in the morning (every other or third day) while getting the paper. An hour later, the watering is done, I turn them off, take my shower and go to work. It's easy :O)
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Billy wrote:

The anecdotal evidence I've been reading seems to imply problems with the connections. Are these fairly reliable or does this vary by application or brand? Someone mentioned tees. I suppose your first bit of advice about the pressure regulator helps enormously with the connection problem.
I'm thinking that the parts are interchangeable from brand to brand. I suppose I need to actually look at these and I haven't yet. I wish I could squeeze another 24 hours in the day, friends have needed help... unfortunately it's mostly been with moving!
Jeff
The emitters on the 1/4" drip line will

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wrote:

I get mine from a local nursery. It is all generic (no brand) but there are other sizes besides 1/4". The connectors look sorta, kinda like below. You insert the connector into your 1/4" drip line, and then punch a hole into the tubing that is the main conduit for the water, and insert the other end of the connector into the hole that you have made. You will get the specified amount of water for 20ft. At the end of your drip line, you inset a cap with the same kind of barb as the connectors, only there is no hole for the water to pass through. /|-------|\ \|-------|/ drip connector
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Be careful, there are differences in the inside diameter of some of the tubing. I irrigate approximately 700 blueberry plants with 1 gallon per hour drippers. If you want to see something online go to dripdepot.com. They are really nice folks and ship fast. Also, their prices are considerably cheaper than my local Lowes or Home Depot. Steve

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good advice given so far. Recommend you read the basic rules of thumb included in the Raindrip.com booklet ( link below) which I found does make a huge difference in performance(specifically length of 1/2 hose, length of 1/4 tubing and total gph per system) also don't mix emitters up--- keep the drips and sprinklers on separate circuits if you want best performance. There is mention of which ones can be grouped together.
http://66.241.193.32/cms/files2/Raindrip_DWME_2008.pdf
I use the micro jets (red tops) rather than the sprinklers which have a tendency to stick and clog, also the newer adjustable drips ( 0-10 gph) will give you a bit more flexibility than the 1/2, 1, or 2 gph button drips.
Keep bends and connectors to a min. Ensure you have overlap.
Timer work great, it adds more flexibility in hot weather. I use this Meinor timer http://tinyurl.com/mjhbzc rather than the similar Raindrip model. less expensive, better quality.
My area requires an anti-siphon on any sprinkler system as a backflow preventor even though my sillcock has anti-siphon.
The pressure regulator is good to have especially if you have flow rate variations. Previous, I had hoses pop out of the 1/2 compression connectors, which I also changed to screw tighten ones rather than the push-in compression type as much as I could.
I found there is a size difference in some of the tube pipe and compression connectors being sold in the various Big Box stores as 1/2 inch poly, some coming out of China is metric, not quite a fit for compression connectors. So stay with one brand as much as possible for the 1/2 components.
Don't use the misters for plant watering.
Get extra stakes, you will need em. Kids, dogs, nosy neighbors and such will break em
Look around to find the more flexible 1/4 tubing if you can, not around much these days. The newer 1/4 hard poly has a lot of memory.
Ensure you winterize the system.
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forgot to add this one: http://www.dripirrigation.com/download_gen/DSL20-L.pdf
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jeff wrote:

Thanks to all. I bought a rain drip Landscape Kit. I didn't see the Vegetable Kit which has 1/2 gallon (inline) drippers instead of 1 gallon PC end type and more 1/4" tubing and no 1/2".
Since my garden is compact (runs of 6' to 10' max) I'm thinking the 1/4" line will be easier to manipulate. Should I be thinking 1/4" for everything using Ts on the 1/4" line instead of piercing the 1/2"?
What's the 10 gallon pressure compensating flow control for? I have more than 10 1 gallon pressure compensating drippers in the kit.
Is there any info on how much typical vegetables actually need? It is hard for me to tell when tomatoes, carrots and the blueberries need water. The cucurbits (particularly the cukes) seem like they always do.
How do I water carrot rows? I didn't see 1/4" soaker hose. Mister, or just keep hand watering? Or the 1/2 gallon inline every 6"?
Since I have different vegetables I wonder if I should put valves inline for the different sections and set this up for the water frequency of those neediest (cukes at the moment) and shut off the water to the sections that don't need more. That seems easier than changing the flow rate. The adjustables seem to be 1 to 10 gallon/hour. So keeping everything in my clayish to normal soil at 1 gph and having several sequential watering periods and turning off the sections that don't need more water in the later sequences...
The "bad" news is that I won't be able to put in my irrigation system because it is raining all week!
Jeff

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You should have at least one main 1/2" line. Having all of the water flow through 1/4" tubes might cause backup at some point, whereas allowing several small lines to come out of the big line will keep things flowing smoothly. I like a single big line just for running along the edge of the bed, with the little tubes doing all of the creative work among the plants.

I have never used the flow control. I just adjust my flow manually.

I hand-watered mine. (I didn't have rows, I broadcast them so they filled the bed.) Using a mister works well too, but you shouldn't have misters on the same circuit as drippers. (Use a splitter at the water source.) There are also 1/4" tubes that have holes every 6 inches, but I have found they tend to clog, so you'd have to be ready to go out there with a needle every few weeks. You could also use a needle to put holes in regular 1/4" tube--that would allow the water to come at intervals closer than 6" if you wanted.

That would work. What I do is simply use more drippers on the water-loving plants, and make them for 1 or 2 GPH instead of 1/2 GPH. This allows more water to reach each water-loving plant from a single circuit. You can just turn the flow on and leave for an hour, and all the plants will get their proper amount of water at the same time. --S.
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supply their rated volume after 20 ft. and that was for 1/2 gal/hr. emitters. Seems likes it would be a shorter with large emitters. You would still get water, just not at the volume rated for the emitter. I think you should keep your 1/2 tubing as the back bone of your drip system, if for no other reason, t be able to know how much water a plant is getting.

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Suzanne D. wrote:
Hello,

OK, I've laid out the backbone 1/2" line to run along the edges of the garden. I think what I'll do is run taps with valves for each section. Each section will have about 4 or 5 emitters and a max length of 10'.
I suppose since the backbone runs along the garden path also, I'll tap off for a few other plants, the roses have taken a beating...
I have a hard time believing that those 1/4" taps on the 1/2" line don't leak. Everything I've ever done with plumbing leaked! That's why I'm trying to minimize the taps.

OK, I'll do the hand watering here. I pulled a carrot from the edge of the garden a while back. Although it was almost an 1" in diameter, it wasn't much longer!

Will do.
I've got a pressure regulator and more tees coming from Drip Depot.
I've shopped at 4 different Home Depots and a Lowes looking at drip supplies. Amazingly none of them had the same parts. It's almost like one shipment got divided between 5 stores! I did find some 1/4" vinyl line made by Mister Landscaper that looks like great stuff.
Raining again...
Jeff

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