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27 May 2008

Garden Update

If it weren't for the case of vacation I would probably hand water all season. I enjoy walking among the plants, examining them and even smelling the plants in my garden. The grim reality is that one week without water, typically in the heat of July or August, is enough to do any garden in.

Over the years I have taken different approaches to watering the garden. I started out with simple soakers everywhere. Soakers are nice, but unless they are stored every season, the sun breaks them down in about two years. Additionally, it is hard to leave them in place if you plan to work the soil in the off-season.

Then I tried a simple rotating sprinkler set at the far side of the garden that rotated 90 degrees (noon to 3 o'clock). This worked very well, but with two side effects. First, it watered the entire garden. This meant that I had to plan my garden excursions carefully, so that I could avoid the inevitable mud. Second, it got water on the leaves of the summer squash (yellow and zukes) and peppers. In my experience, these plants do poorly if their leaves are wet a lot. The squash especially are more likely to get moldy leaves.

This year I decided go all-out and install a micro-irrigation drip system. The benefits are that each plant (or row) gets its own dedicated drip line. No mud. Plants are also watered at the base. No leaf rot. I don't know what maintenance will be like. The lines are made out of vinyl and are intended to be buried or left out, so I assume that I won't have to pack the whole thing up at the end of the season. I have main lines that go down my potager paths. Each be gets its own spur, out of which come the individual lines.

One thing this does is tie me into a specific garden organization, since it will be inconvenient to add or remove new lines. That's fine. I've been moving in that direction for several years now as I try to establish sever perennial flowers and vegetables. Maybe this is the move I needed.

I gave it a test yesterday after I connected everything and was quite impressed. No leaks, and water was only where I wanted it. Hopefully weeding will be easier since the weeds will receive less water.