Using Soaker Hose Irrigation

I'm going to give soaker hoses a try this year in my 4 1/2' X 50' vegetable bed. Having never used them before, I do have a few questions. I will be planting 3 rows of vegetables the full length of the bed. There will be 18" between rows. I will use be using two 50' soaker hoses connected to a Y splitter. I will place one hose down the center of each row. The hose will be 9" away from my plants on either side. My soil structure is clay that will be amended with compost and other organic matter. The bed will also be well tilled before planting. My questions are: Will a soaker hose provide enough water for plants that are 9" away from it ??? Also, how often and for what length of time should I use the system each week if we don't get any rain ??? The last thing I would like to know is it better to bury the soaker hoses a bit or just lay them right on top of the soil ??? The reason I'm planting so close together in this bed is because I want to give intense planting and intercropping a try this year. Just not so sure what size area two soaker hoses will take care of :) Any ideas on my irrigation plan for this year would be more than welcomed :)
Happy Gardening ........... Rich
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

    If you mean those hoses that are made from shredded tires and sort of ooze water along their length, I use them to irrigate 8-foot raised beds that range from 3-to-4 feet in width. Each bed hosts two 25-foot hoses. Water comes through a multi-hose manifold (easier to disconnect than those y-connector thingies) via a pressure-regulated hose (25psi). The regulator is an inexpensive item from the drip-irrigation section of a handy-homeowner store (Lowe's). It assures a reasonably constant ROF regardless of the pressure state of the supply (well pump and accumulator tank), which enables me to regulate water volume by timing (Aiming for 1 gal/min, I measure/adjust ROF of each hose prior to installation).     My arrangement places each run of hose approximately 4 inches apart but I know from experience that a single hose in each bed also works well. Although, my garden soil is fairly well amended, the native Florida sand continues to percolate upward and the garden always seems to me "too sandy" but I got good water dispersion even with the wider spacing of single hoses. However, I use wide-row gardening techniques, resulting in closer than "normal" plant spacing, and I'm unable to address your specific question. Even with the wider spacing of a single hose, my beds get uniformly wet (or so it seems); it just takes longer. Having said that, though, I think that I'd use a separate hose for each row, with a layout such as yours. When gauging soil moisture, be sure to check at several inches' depth and don't just scratch the top inch-or-so. The water needs of the various veggies are widely available on the Internet but you will have to adjust for the retention characteristics of your particular soil type. Your state college that participates in the USDA Extension Service should be able to provide guidelines specific to your region     I install the hoses on the surface prior to planting but, as the season progresses, they get covered by any top-dressing and I've yet to notice any ill effects.
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the Balvenieman
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Most vegetable gardens seem to need one or two inches of water a week depending on how hot the days are. Since I don't know how long to run my soaker hoses, I may try this as a test. I will bury three containers at ground level, one near the beginning of the hose, one in the middle and another one near the end. I will then turn on the water and let it run for an hour. Next, I'll measure the amount of water in each container for depth. For example, if I measure a half inch of water in the containers, I'll know that I have to run my system 4 hours a week in order to get two inches of water to my garden. Does this sound like it will work?
Rich
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

    No, it doesn't. One inch of rain delivers 623 US gallons of water over 1000 sq. ft. That is .623 gallons/square foot. Determine each bed's area and multiply that by .623 to determine gallons required to equal an inch of rainfall. Measure the total combined delivery rate, in gals/min, of the hoses in each bed, and then calculating the time required to deliver an inch to each bed is simple enough. Assumptions are: Constant water pressure (implying a constant rate-of-flow), and uniform delivery down the length of each hose. Neither of those assumptions may be true but it is just a garden, after all....     Determining the ROF for the hose(s) is easily done by direct measurement: Connect the hose(s) to a source and place them into a suitable container; fill it to the point of overflowing and arrange it so that _all_ of the overflow goes into a second container of known volume5 gallons, say. Start the flow, measure the time required to fill the second container; divide the volume of the captured water by the number of minutes it takes to fill the container (gal/min=ROF). Close counts.
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OK, I'll need to run my soaker hoses for 6 hours to equal one inch of rain for the size of my garden. That should also equal about 6" deep in my type of soil. The question now is: would it be best to run my system for a full 6 hours in one shot or would it be best to water three times a week for 2 hours at a time providing we get no rain in any given week? I plan to water around 8:00 am. rather than in the evening so I would imagine I'll have to allow perhaps a little extra time to compensate for evaporation.
Rich
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

    Short answer: I'm not qualified to offer a definitive answer. Many "experts" opine that less frequent deep soakings are of greater benefit than more frequent light watering because the former induces deeper root penetration and reduces the likelihood of water stress. I've not seen any actual studies or evidence to support the assertion but it does seem reasonable. My instinct is to monitor carefully early on and determine what is required for the moisture to penetrate to the root zone and to repeat that often enough to prevent obvious signs of water stress. Some advocate watering only when the garden does begin to show signs of water stress but such practice seems to me counterproductive because the water stress inhibits the plants' progress. I guess the "rule" is that there are no hard-and-fast rules. You'll have to base your practices on your own observations (-->keep a garden journal/diary!!<--) as well as whatever information you can glean from the experiences of other gardeners in your area.     You can reduce evaporation significantly by practicing wide-row gardening, which spaces plants "shoulder to shoulder", shading the bed, and/or by maintaining a healthy layer of mulcheven newspaper is better than nothingand/or by interplanting shorter compatible varieties among taller plants such as eggplant, etc. Consider doing a little reading on the beneficence of maintaining a suitable "micro-climate" within your garden.     You may find more qualified advice than mine in the rec.gardens.edible newsgroup, if it's available to you, provided that you can take the save-the-worlders and the "my way = right way" ideologues with a grain of salt. Also, many gardening websitesgardenweb, in particularoffer regional discussion forums in which you can correspond with gardeners familiar with practicing in your neck of the woods; have your adblock plus browser extension at the ready, though ;-)
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(EVP MAN) wrote:

You need only one soaker hose down the center.... three soaker hoses down that narrow swarth is way over kill. Only advice is to buy high quality soaker hose, the cheapos at the big box stores won't last the season and they don't distribute water evenly, they over water near the source and fizzle out before ever reaching the end. Leevalley.com has very high quality soaker hoses... I have like 200' feet in my barn that I brought with me from my last garden, anyone wants them just come and pick them up... but I don't know how well they've aged,. probably best to buy new... you only need a 50' length - $20. And get an automatic timer for your hose bib or you'll over water and/or forget.
http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=2&pD889&cat=2,2280,33160
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I heard that soaker hoses work quite well if you buy a decent hose and keep the hose under 100' in length. My bed will only be 4 1/2 feet wide and 50' long. I'll be running two soaker hoses 18" apart down the center of my bed. My plants will be any distance I desire away from each hose. I was thinking about 6" away would be a good distance. Do you think that would work out ok for me? They will be on a timer and also a pressure regulator. I plan to run the system twice a week for 2 hours at a time if we don't get any rain.
Rich
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

    Impossible to say. You'll just have to let your experience be your guide. The spacing between plants should be of primary importance and your soil's characteristics will determine maximum distances from the water source. Remember that you can always do supplemental waterings if you determine your soaker hoses to be too far apart and then change the spacing next season.
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