Won't Use Soaker Hoses Again This Season

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Last year I used soaker hoses for the first time to irrigate my vegetable garden. They worked great and I had a good crop. The problem is that living in town, I'm on city water and sewer with a water meter. Our sewer bill is based on our water usage even though the water used never enters the sewer. My combined bills for water and sewer were super high using the soaker hoses. I realize there are no free rides but this season I will water each plant by hand with a measured two gallon of water per plant each week depending on rainfall. When I was researching the use of soaker hoses, it all sounded good. In my research, soaker hoses were said to conserve your water usage but not so as I have discovered in my case. I was running two 50' soaker hoses for a total of four hours a week. My water and sewer bill more that doubled! I also planted far more crops than my wife and I could use so I ended up giving away at least half of all the vegetables I grew to friends and family. Cost me a lot of money for a few thank you's that I got! This season I'm not going to over plant and only grow what two people can reasonably consume. I may raise a few tomato transplants for my one neighbor. Gave him eight plants last year and he showed his gratitude with a case of beer which I didn't expect but was a very nice gesture on his part indeed :) Gave another neighbor eight plants also and he let them all die because he didn't want to pay to water them at all. Guess this year he will have to buy all his plants at a nursery if he wants any! The funny thing is that after he lost all his plants, he ask me if I wanted to sell him some tomatoes. I just gave him a bunch of them. The more I think about that, I realize how dumb I was! Won't happen this year. After he kills all his plants and wants to buy for (free) some of my tomatoes, I'll say: sure $1.00 each. How many would you like? LOL Live, learn and get a bit wiser each year :)
Rich
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I have five rain barrels that gets me through between rains. Preserve those tomatoes and will never have extra tomatoes again. Extra tomatoes also help make great compost. Get a couple of hens and feed them your garden scraps and get fresh eggs every morning.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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On 12/26/2010 1:52 AM, EVP MAN wrote:

Now that you've learned that soaker hoses are wasteful, move on and try proper drip irrigation which gives you drop-by-drop control over how much each plant receives. AFAIK it is the most efficient method of irrigation available. Add on an automatic controller which monitors soil moisture and you will have the ultimate.
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I don't think I'll have the funds for a drip irrigation system so I'll no doubt use a gallon milk jug to water each plant. I've read a few articles on the net where you can bury half a soda bottle near the base of each plant and use them as a drip irrigation system. Perhaps I may experiment with that method also. You sure hit the nail right on the head when you called soaker hoses wasteful. Soaker hoses may be ok for square foot gardening but with two - three feet between plants, there is just way too much water being placed where it isn't needed. Hopefully we will get more rain this season. Last year sure was dry in my area. I hope each season my soil structure improves also. I have heavy clay and this will be my third season working to improve it. I've been adding cow manure, compost, grass clippings, dried leaves in the fall and most any other kind of organic matter. I know it will take time but I'm getting nice crops and it should improve with each passing year :)
Rich from PA Zone 5-6
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On Sun, 26 Dec 2010 01:52:48 -0500, White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

You don't say where you live (climate wise) so it's difficult to offer explicit advice. But in any event soaker hoses are probably the best of any watering alternatives. You'll use less water if you bury the soaker hoses with a heavy application of mulch, you'll use less water because you'll lose less. Also the better your soil is amended with organic material the more water it will hold and hold it longer. There really is no simple/inexpensive work around with how your water/sewer company bills but I know that many small town municipalities bill exactly the same way (it's very common), they charge for town sewer by how much water you use with no regard for how you use that water, if I lived in town I'd have the same. The only alternative I know of is to drill your own well (if permitted), but if you're heavily into gardening you'd do much better to move to a rural location. Not growing so much is an excellent idea regardless where you live, who needs all that extra labor just for the luxury of being able to show off all your give-away crops. It's best to grow only what you can use. Contrary to what so many think the home vegetable garden over time offers no savings, it's a big expense, it's strictly a hobby... even farming professionally is a huge gamble. With a home vegetable garden over time you will have a few good crops but they need to be weighed against the years when crops fail, and usually there will be more bad years than good. In a way you are fortunate that you need to do a lot of irrigating, what do you think happens to crops when it rains nearly every day.
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"Brooklyn1" wrote

I need to get mine checked out. I think the well is fine but the pump needs servicing I bet.
Meantime, we haven't used it in the past 3 years.

Actually, it depends on how you go about it and it can be cheap indeed to do for a few small things for a family of 3 with a few gifted items when there is a surplus.
My findings are that once you are past the initial outlay for containers and soil to fill them (if you need to purchase) then there are certain things you can crop quite efficiently and cheaply even in an apartment porch.
Here's my list in order of 'easy' (containers 4ft x 12 inch by 8 deep mostly but some taller or longer):
-Lettuce, especially baby or butter but any loose leaf type like romaine works. 'Iceberg' not easy. Seed used, have 2 containers and multi-crop by planting seed (can mix types in same container) every 6-7 weeks while rotating containers. Works from April to November here.
- Green onions and chives, you can get the bulbs just off grocery store plants you get in spring and plant the bottoms with a little of the top sticking up. They will proliferate over time so you can use the bulbs too. It's an invest once, crop for YEARS item. 1 container planted 2007 still going strong.
- Parsley and many other herbs, seed planted. Most have to be reseeded each year. a 2 ft section of container gets whatever herb I want more of that year. Dehydrator used to preserve a years worth of our use.
- Cucumbers, if you don't mind them sprawling out of the container on the ground. 1 end of a container gets these. 3 plants in a 2ft section fits us but then, we aren't trying to make a bunch for pickling. 89cents for 3 plants (about the cost of a cucumber here is same as a plant seedling)
- Green Bell Peppers, we often go a whole container here with 6 plant seedlings. Again, about 89cents a seedling and more than that for store bought bells. I go heirloom here for the better more intense flavor. A few stakes needed but easy to do.
- Tomatoes, types vary. I list these later only because you have to replace the soil if you don't have the organic mulch to get a good crop year after year. You also have to 'tree' them a bit more than peppers and that's not as easy in a container. First year crop will be great then degrade until you replace the soil (which can be rotated nicely to the lettuce containers and onion set).
- Straight neck summer yellow squash, 1 plant can be pretty prolific and crop up 1 8 inch squash every week for 2 months or more. These work better in a deeper container. A left over kitty litter plastic container is a good option is you have them collecting. Make a hole in the bottom-side about 2 inches up so it can drain.
There are others easy that I don't commonly do such as spinach (fits with lettuce in ease) and eggplant (needs a deeper container) and carrots (again, deeper container). Potatoes can be dead easy if you have a deep container but i've not tried them as it sounds more work than I'd get back in produce.
Watering is done with a combination of hose or a gallon jar and in some climates, I've used a drip system from a milk jug with fishtank air tubing. If you line the pots correctly, there is little water loss on watering.
Total expense this year, about 15$. Water use, nominal, maybe 2$? Total return as opposed to buying at the grocery, only 40$ profit but that's because this year the bunnies from hell got my garden before all of it cropped up fully. Most years, I do far better.
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Brooklyn1 wrote:

It depends on the situation. For small scale conservative targeted watering what he doing now (hand watering) is likely best. For a larger scale where carrying water is too tiresome drippers are very good, although they can be expensive. It depends on how you rate the cost of water, your time and capital costs.
You'll use less water if you bury the

For sure.
There

This is a strange billing system. I suppose it is some kind of attempt to bill sewerage as "user pays" instead of at a flat rate. But it sure bites the home gardener using town water. It is not used in these parts.
The only alternative I know of is to

Tanks or ponds to collect your own roof or surface water are other possibilities, Gov regulations and cost permitting. There is no one size fits all solution.
Not

I can see that it could be like that if you buy all your inputs or cost your time and don't have much to show for it. I buy very few inputs and don't cost my time so I am way in front year after year. For some there is real joy in giving or spreading their bread upon the waters so a neighbourhood dividend is not a luxury.

And for you the glass isn't half full, it isn't even half empty, your glass is near empty all the time. Don't assume that everything is as bad as you see it, other people live different lives in different circumstances and they are not all as grim as yours seems to be.
In a way you are fortunate that you need to

Some of my best crops were when I lived in a dry inland climate (no fungus and few bugs) and had access to plenty of water at no direct cost.
David
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And for us, we get a real joy out of eating really fresh food and where we know the inputs.

And I also find that things tend to even out over time. If I have a good year with one veg and a not so good year with another, it doesn't really matter. If I'd decided to plant only a few of any one vegetable or even only one or two varieties of vegetables, I would have missed out because the conditions for whatever didn't do well coul dhave had an impact on my only a few veg/varieties.

Yup. I prefer inland growing - less humidity and good strong ehat when it des event ually arrive. At the rate this summer if goign though I wont' have tomatoes for at least another month and probably more like 2 months. This is not going to be a tomato glut season.
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So essentially you are concurring, home vegetable gardening is a hobby, you're mostly in it for the personal enjoyment of growing stuff, and you get to eat some too. Sure home grown tomatoes taste better than the typical store bought but mostly they all come in at once within a relatively short period as do all crops, one can eat only so much. Unless one goes into crops on a large enough scale to supply several families there is no way that supermarket prices can be beat... and even with a little truck farm crops can fail and often do and for a number of reasons outside ones control, and then there's the cost of supplies, tools, and powered equipment and those get used up and fail too. Who do you think supports the plant nurseries and gardening product aisles at the big box stores, home gardeners is who. Believe it or not folks tend to home veggie gardens for exactly the same reason folks tend to lawns, personal satisfaction is all... even though one can't eat that grass neither holds sway over the other, both are hobbies. No hobby is profitable monetarilly, as soon as it is it's called a business. I do gardening too, I'm motivated by enjoyment, not saving money... no way can one save money from any kind of home gardening.
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I tend to agree that you don't save money by home gardening especially the first year which is quite a large expense until you get things you will need. YEP, it's a hobby which does cost money! But then again all hobbies cost money. And I learned the hard way that small is better. Last year I had 28 tomato plants and yes they all ripen about the same time. That gave me four to six weeks for the wife and I to use hundreds of tomatoes. We don't can or make sauce so it was impossible to use all them tomatoes. I ended up giving more away than what we used. And now that I think about it, that was kind of dumb. What I was doing was giving away a lot of my time and money! This year them 28 tomato plants will be cut back to 8 or 10 instead. I already warned my wife NOT to be telling a bunch of people that we would see to it that they get tomatoes this year. This season I'm looking out for my own best interests. If friends and neighbors want fresh vegetables, they will need to put a garden in and grow it the same as I do!
Rich
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I want my tomatoes to come in at the same time. I do preserve my own foods. Most canning equipment is a one time purchase, except for the lids which are cheap.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Some people may look at home gardening as a hobby while others may look at it as being self reliant but the main thing is the cost factor. Is it cheaper to grow it or buy it at market? Here again that would depend on all factors involved. First we need seed or transplants, we need to cultivate, fertilize, water and finally harvest then use, process and preserve or market our crop. Each phase has a cost involved unless we can find a way to get it for free or reduce the cost. If we have to pay for all of the above then I think it's far cheaper to buy produce than to grow it. Now this isn't counting our labor which if considered a hobby is a labor of love in which we get enjoyment. Last season I would of had to sell my tomatoes for at least $1 each just to break even or perhaps $2 each! Yes I had a good crop but the Mantis tiller alone was $375 plus gas and oil to run it. Steel support stakes at $3.50 each, cow manure at $4 a bag x six bags, roll of garden fencing $50, slow release fertilizer $20 and city water at $40 a month x 3 months. That's on top of the price of seeds, peat pellets, potting soil, grow lights and the electricity to fun them for eight weeks at 16 hours a day to raise transplants. Now mind you, I'm not complaining simply because I myself look at this as my hobby and I know in advance that all hobbies can get rather expensive. Thank God I don't play golf :)
Rich
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A good book on seed saving.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
I do purchase seeds every year also. I do not purchase any vegetable plants! One packet of tomato seeds cost around two dollars. I can at least get thirty plants for that two dollars. One tomato plant can cost two dollars at a nursery. I do start some seeds indoors. Ninety nine percent of my seeds go directly into the ground. I spend nothing for compost or manure. I have chickens and a cow for manure. Compost is free from the local recycling center. I also have my own compost piles. Most of my vegetable garden uses raised beds, so no tilling is necessary. Rain and rain barrels cost little. I do have a well for backup water but rarely use it for gardening. I do purchase some fertilizers for the plants. However if one uses compost, one does not need as much fertilizer.
In the grocery market one small pint of cherry tomatoes cost $2. Leaf lettuce runs around two dollars a pound. Much much cheaper to grow your own. Two vegetables that are cheaper in stores are carrots and potatoes. I am hard pressed to think of other vegetables that can be purchased cheaper than I can grow. A dozen ears of corn cost about $2., that is just six corn plants, I can get a thousand corn seeds for ten dollars. I do buy avocados because I cannot grow them in my area.
One small 12 oz can of diced tomatoes cost a dollar in the markets. Canning your own food is allot cheaper. I have a freezer full of corn and green beans. What I do not preserve makes great compost.
The number one cost in home gardening is your personal labor cost which I did not include. That personal labor cost is the factor that determines if gardening is profitable. Eight hours of fishing might bring $20 worth of fish, for some personal cost is important, some it is not.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Brooklyn1 <Gravesend1> wrote:

The term "Hobby" could be used for some. Is doing laundry a hobby also by your definition? After all why buy a washing machine and dryer when I can take my dirty clothes to the cleaners. How about one of your other favorite subjects "Cooking" is that a hobby when one can go the restaurants three times a week? I am sure there are cost advantages of eating out all the time.
I often think of a hobby that only provides a pleasure incentive. Gardening does pay ones self with goods that helps one survive physically. Bird watching, Amateur Radio and Chess provides pleasure only. like Chess and Gardening i Win and Lose at times. Does working for yourself just a hobby. I built my own home, Me and two nephews did everything except the concrete work and drywall. Is building your own home a hobby? I am not being paid by anyone. So by your definition of Hobby, does working for yourself count? Gardening and food preservation in my book is being self reliant, not a hobby.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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You do realize, don't you, Dan, that everybody else in the world knows this. Getting there IS the trip, not being there.
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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Apparently not everyone :) For me it is the path that is interesting. But for some, the completive types, it is getting there that make them content and happy. The thing is, if they do not get there they will be the old miserable ones.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Yup :-))
It's about the journey and not the destination.
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On Mon, 27 Dec 2010 23:12:07 +0000 (UTC), Dan L

You don't make any sense, you are simply attempting to defend the indefensible... home veggie gardening is a hobby like all others, primarilly gives pleasure but saves not a mot on ones grocery bill. I've had a veggie garden every year for more than 60 years and never saved a penny on food... canning and freezing costs more than buying at the stupidmarket. NO hobby saves money and a home veggie garden is definitely a hobby, one of the more costly hobbies when time, effort, and losses to nature are factored in. I've been involved in several hobbies, I've raised tropical fish for many years, collected stamps, and coins and I've collected fountain pens most of my life and still, at least I can occasionally sell fountain pens at a profit, I've never sold a tomato at a profit. I garden strictly for enjoyment... no one saves money with home vegetable gardening, it's 100% an expense... actually more than 100%, a lot more... anyone who believes they are saving money is fantacising. I recently spent over $300 on mole/vole protection products, I'd have to sell a ton of tomatoes to maybe break even. Just from reading here of people bitching about their watering bills alone proves that gardening is not monetarilly profitable, never mind all the other myriad cost aspects folks here constantly whine about paying for.
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Brooklyn1 <Gravesend1> wrote:

Again you missed my first statement "The term "Hobby" could be used for some". For you it is a hobby, for me it is a way of life. Your thinking is narrow, this or that, right or wrong, them or us, if you do not make cold hard cash it is a hobby. Their is no middle ground in your world. I believe "this or that", "right or wrong" are two thin lines with a vast grey area. You want a hard line on your definitions. You are in the camp of "letter of the law" and I am in the camp of "spirit of the law".
Go ahead say I am wrong :)
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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Brooklyn1 wrote:

Your experience does not make it universally so. Unless you cost my time I am in front by many hundreds of dollars a year every year. I bottle and freeze quite a lot and once again it costs me almost nothing (people give me boxes of preserving jars, lids and seals) and my time. Why is this an article of faith with you? At some time in your history you totalled up what gardening was costing you and you had an Ah Hah moment and decided that you couldn't justify it financially. That's fine but it doesn't apply to everybody.
NO hobby saves money and a home veggie garden is

Well yes if you cost your time. But consider the alternatives such as going to the gym or pushing myself through some excercise routine. These take time, cost money, usually require equipment and to me are less pleasant. What do you want out of a hobby beyond engaging the mind and body and (if you allow ) social contacts?
I've been involved in several

Well colour me hallucinating! Last summer I sold about $50 worth of tomatoes at the local farmer's market and all it cost me was effort.
I recently spent over $300 on mole/vole

I don't have any watering bills. I spend a little on petrol to pump water. I buy very little in the way of inputs, a few chemicals that I can't do without and sometimes some seed, my seed is through a grower's club and very cheap, my equipment is mainly years old and long paid for. I use recycled wire as fences and recycled gates as trellises that were gifts. I collect horse manure off the pasture and other people give me chicken litter. And I don't have voles!
You keep going on about this. It seems to be a religious crusade that nobody could come out in front from growing things. OK you can't come out in front, I get that. Can't you see that other people in this world have other experiences and consequently see things differently?
David
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