Irrigation 2.1

I realize the title of this post is somewhat misleading as there have been no previous posts on irrigation. However, this is in fact generation 2.1 for watering methods in our community garden. Version 1.0 was watering everything by hand, which took about 20 minutes at most, but required constant supervision. Last week we set up the soaker hose lines (2.0), but hadn’t yet optimized the arrangement.

Last night I finished hooking everything up—a brand-new leader hose (its predecessor had four holes), a splitter for a hand-watering set-up, and recycled pieces of the old leader hose with new male/female ends to connect the soakers to the distributor.

The result: Octo-Irrigation!

(Well, ok, one hose short of octo, but who’s counting?)

I’m really excited that we finally have this set up. It’s much simpler than watering by hand, although it does take longer (3-4 hours vs. 20 minutes). Still, it will provide a good, deep watering, which is what veggies need.

And it allows us to avoid that ubiquitous and wasteful piece of garden technology, the sprinkler.

I hate sprinklers. A lot. With a passion.

I grew up in an area where drought season began every June and lasted until September. So water conservation is an integral part of my gardening paradigm. There are few pieces of equipment that can cause my blood pressure to rise as much as the sprinkler.

Firstly, sprinklers are very inefficient at delivering water—most of it evaporates into the air, especially with these “misters” that seem to be so in fashion nowadays. Secondly, they get water on the leaves of the plant, which on a sunny day leads to leaf burn. You basically end up parboiling your garden if you turn on the sprinkler in the middle of the day. And if you water at night, you end up with the opposite problem: rot. Root watering is the way to go, but not something that a sprinkler can deliver.

Enter the soaker hose. They deliver water directly to the roots, thus simultaneously conserving resources and protecting against leaf damage. They provide the deep root moisture that many annuals and perennials adore. And they can be used with the same sort of timers employed by sprinklers if need be. They’re simply superior in every way for the home garden.

In any case, that’s enough ranting for now. Meanwhile, the beans have come in to their own the past week. Hopefully they’ll be dished up at tonight’s common meal. The radishes are hopelessly woody this year, and the carrots are still too small, but we should have a nice batch of tomatos coming up just round the corner. Not a bad start for year one of the field garden!

—A.V.

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