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Need drip irrigation advice

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Post  Veganist 8/3/2017, 5:05 pm

Hi everyone,
I am in the process of installing a drip irrigation system for my six raised beds.I need help in deciding when to set the timer and for how long. I have tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, okra, cucumbers, squash and zucchini. (I wanted to add a picture but don't know how).

Thanks

Ken
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Post  sanderson 8/3/2017, 11:27 pm

Hi, Ken First, here is how to post a photo. Scroll down page 4 to a little over half way for the most recent instructions. https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t129p75-how-to-post-a-picture-located-on-your-computer

Can you describe your system? I have drip tubing on automatic timers but it is + or - 10 degrees 100*F here most of the summer. Have you used the Search box for irrigation/drip/watering systems?

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Post  CitizenKate 8/4/2017, 12:00 am

My beds are set up with drip irrigation, and I run them about 3 minutes per day, first thing in the morning, when the highs are in the 90's or higher. 80's, about every other day. 70's or lower, every three days.
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Post  Veganist 8/4/2017, 3:00 am

Thank you Sanderson and Citizenkate,

I have six 8x4 raised beds. Three on each side. I also have two additional beds that are 8x2.

The contents of the 8x4 are as follows:
Bed 1: Indeterminate tomatoes and cucumbers
Bed 2: (immediately across from bed 1), Cherry tomatoes and zucchini
Bed 3: (behind bed 1), Eggplants, okras, zucchini and cucumber
Bed 4: (behind bed 2), Scotch bonnet pepper, cherry tomatoes & cucumber
Bed 5: (behind bed 3), Zucchini, squash, cantaloupe & sugar baby melon
Bed 6: (behind bed 4), Kentucky pole bean, chili pepper, plum tomatoes, hot banana pepper & cucumber.

The two 8x2 beds have cucumber, beans and culinary herbs.
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Post  mrcmb99 6/26/2019, 9:40 pm

Hi,

I'm new to SFG and I'm really struggling to see if my plants are getting enough water.  I'm in SE Michigan, and right now, temps are averaging low 80s.  I've got 1gph drip emitters running to each plant, and I'm running them about 5 minutes per day (I'm not sure if this is the right amount of time or not).  I'm growing tomatoes and peppers.

Now, the major issue is this - I struggle to tell if the Mel's Mix is wet or dry, since it's not "muddy" like normal dirt. Early in the morning when I water, I can see that the dirt is wet, but by 2-3pm that look has gone away. I stick my finger in the dirt and it all looks the same.  I don't want to over-water the plants, but I'm afraid they might not  be getting enough water.  How do I calculate the proper amount of time?

Thank you for all your help!
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Post  OhioGardener 6/27/2019, 8:32 pm

mrcmb99 wrote:Hi,

I'm new to SFG and I'm really struggling to see if my plants are getting enough water.  I'm in SE Michigan, and right now, temps are averaging low 80s.  I've got 1gph drip emitters running to each plant, and I'm running them about 5 minutes per day (I'm not sure if this is the right amount of time or not).  I'm growing tomatoes and peppers.

Now, the major issue is this - I struggle to tell if the Mel's Mix is wet or dry, since it's not "muddy" like normal dirt. Early in the morning when I water, I can see that the dirt is wet, but by 2-3pm that look has gone away. I stick my finger in the dirt and it all looks the same.  I don't want to over-water the plants, but I'm afraid they might not  be getting enough water.  How do I calculate the proper amount of time?

Thank you for all your help!

I personally don't like to water the plant, but prefer to water the soil so that the roots will grow into it. So, I run the drip tubing the length of the beds, each line separated by 8". The plants are between these drip lines. I want to deep water the soil, so I don't water every day. Vegetable plants typically want/need 1" of water per week to be at their peak, so I water twice a week at 1/2" each time. How do I know there is 1/2" of water? I set tuna cans under various drip emitters and time how long it takes to collect 1/2" of water in the can. I then set the timer for that amount of time plus a minute or two. Then I know the soil will receive 1/2" of "rain" twice a week.

That didn't answer your questions, but is just a summary of what I do with my beds. How can you tell if the soil is wet enough?  One way is to buy an inexpensive soil moisture meter from one of the big box stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot, and use it to measure the soil moisture level.  Or, a simple way to test the soil is to stick your finger the full length into the soil - if you feel dampness on your finger, the soil is moist enough.  A special note about Mel's Mix: If you use Peat, do not let it dry out completely. Dry Peat will repel water, and requires some soaking to become moist again. That is why it important to moisten it before putting it in the beds, and then keeping it moist after it is in the beds.

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Post  plantoid 6/28/2019, 12:37 pm

I've been playing with irrigation systems for ANSFG bed for longer thanI've been a site member ( nearly 15 years ?) . I did a lot of experiments &  found that cheap gravity fed or low pressure systems eventually give up the ghost by clogging upo r that they are very imprecise in their delivery of water  


 As a result I've spent hundreds & hundreds of dollars /pounds on rubbish stuff till about five years ago .

 The only thing I would recommend is a house pressure system with a check stop ( so if they is a sudden rush of unrestricted water for more than 10 or so seconds  an internal spring loaded piston is forced closed & thus the line gets isolated by the valve )  in the delivery line to the faucet /tap water clock controlled pressure line running from the house on 1/2 inch dia alkathene and tee'd off in 14" smaller lines to micro spry heads or micro misting or spray heads 

this ebay Uk number 
262990524514 is what tyhey are all about .


 Use correct ratchet plastic clips to crimp the hose to the T's & elbows  and at the take off & termination of the 1/4 " line slide slip an 8 mm sleeve over the cut ended to stop the neoprene rubber tube softening & expanding when under pressure from warm water on a hot day immediately before the heated water is expelled from all the lines & flying off. 
 The sleeves I use are inch long  and deburred pieces of copper ..... are home made from 8 mm dia copper low pressure gas line ( that some people use for bottle gas cooking or camping as it has a six mm internal  bore which is  nice tight fit over ends of the 1/4  lines. 

 We use the misting & sprinkling spray lines  on a Hozelock  C water time clock  ( remove it & take out the old batteries before first frost and don't reset up again with new batteries till after last frost or a sudden hard frost will split them wide open ( guess how I discovered that one ?  Embarassed
 
 The clock's UK ebay number    150467877484


We've found one of the several the individual watering periods available  of 3 min every 6 hrs are ideal for where we live in the Great Britain UK and on really hot days as we are at home retired we /I can override the clock  to give any length of spray at anytime of the day or night and then reset the clock to start a new timed programme.

Through out our landscaped garden , green house , 40 foot of  bonsai tree benches and 210 plus s feet of ANSFG veg beds we have five of these systems. Each using about four buckets of water when they come on. I found I had to stagger the start cycle times so that there is always full water pressure available for irrigating as all working at once caused too much of a pressure drop for them to work effectively .   I also had to balance the flow at each spray head for I put way over the recommended number of sprays & misters in each line .  Being adjustable flow spray & misting heads  allows us to reduce that tremendously to only as much as each area needs . 

 Checking how moist things are is easy when you use the 9 inch long copper & zinc tipped moisture metres     UK ebay number  283403909447 


Just make sure you use a cheap green pan scrubber to keep the copper & zinc tip nice and bright , for it is the dissimilar metals in contact with damp acidic soil that make the electricity to move the instruments  indicating needle that makes them work . Leave them to oxidize and go  dark in colour and they won't give the best reading as the coating helps/ tends t insulate the probe tip 




The system I've described might at first seem expensive to set up.  but knowing the five hundred or more pounds I spent on getting to mains pressure watering  they would /should have been the go to devices in the first place ..they'd have saved us a wasted £500 ….. who said experience is free?
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Post  No_Such_Reality 6/28/2019, 1:03 pm

Try the squeeze test and measure like compost.  

Since my environment is dry I'm not a fan of the point drippers and use the spray or bubble drippers.   I find in the low humidity environment if the peat in the mix isn't aged almost to extinction, that the drippers tend to channel vertically.
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Post  sanderson 6/30/2019, 1:33 am

Plantoid, I wish my drip system had a second line for all of the SFG beds. I've maxed out the number of beds, pots and totes the line can service and still maintain enough pressure for even water delivery.

NSR, Do you also mulch the beds?

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Post  donnainzone5 6/30/2019, 12:59 pm

Sanderson,

I don't know whether this device could help or solve your issue, since I don't yet know how water pressure is affected.  However, you may want to check this one out:

www.gardeners.com/buy/push-button-tap-adapters/8586784RS.html#start=37
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Post  sanderson 6/30/2019, 1:52 pm

No, that is not what I need, but I thank you for thinking of me. We have 4 irrigation lines on automatic timer. Front lawn, front flower beds, back lawn and back flower/veggie beds. It would be near impossible at this point to run a 5th line. Just the way it is.

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Post  No_Such_Reality 6/30/2019, 11:45 pm

sanderson wrote:Plantoid, I wish my drip system had a second line for all of the SFG beds.  I've maxed out the number of beds, pots and totes the line can service and still maintain enough pressure for even water delivery.

NSR,  Do you also mulch the beds?

Yes I mulch, i quit messing with the drippers before dialing it in.  A big part of my initial challenges were likely too much peat in the mix courtesy of some being in the compost I bought. In my area it seems like I need a dripper every 6 inches. Maybe 8.  Definitely not 12. I found long runs on the 1/4" 6" spacing drip line was really inconsistent.

Now I like the sprayers even more with the woody mulch as it evenly distribute and maintain the moisture.  As well as the spraying helps break down the mulch, encourage worms and turn wood chip mulch into rich loam.  Without, over summer it almost turns into petrified wood.

As for the push button hose attachment, i had the predecessor with the twist knobs.  Nice idea for setting multiple hoses up but you still need to turn the main valve on and off otherwise they start to leak.
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Post  plantoid 7/2/2019, 5:57 pm

sanderson wrote:Plantoid, I wish my drip system had a second line for all of the SFG beds.  I've maxed out the number of beds, pots and totes the line can service and still maintain enough pressure for even water delivery.

NSR,  Do you also mulch the beds?
I have just had a thought ,

 Can you fit a cheap plastic "Y " branch divider or a multiple manifold using push to connect up connectors and re arrange it i so that you manually change the branch lines  over as needed 

 Similar to this brass branch unit but in plastic .. they come in two , three or four branches  , you need an adaptor connector for the big faucet sized black threaded bit to bring it down to a push on connector similar to the other outlets.

 See this UK eBay  item 163268364109
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Post  Yardslave 7/2/2019, 6:45 pm

I've tried laser tubing and micro-drip tubing with some conditional success. My beds are 3' X 9' long and my system had to feed 6 of those beds as well as 4, 4'square beds- all this off one a 3/4" supply line. The only way to regulate even flow to all beds was to retrofit valves to each individual bed because the micro-drip and laser tubing were pouring out water at a rate that starved the other bed's 1 GPH emitters. I tried unsuccessfully to get it to all work, as I dreaded having to put in another 2 or 3 service lines to get the water output balanced. I ended up pulling the laser and the drip lines and went to 1 GPH emitters, but they just spit out enough water to allow the water to only soak vertically.The emitters didn't flow fast enough to saturate laterally. I couldn't get the emitters to satisfactorily provide enough water to saturate the lateral roots, As a result, when the summer heat rose the tomatoes started cracking and things began bolting early because of the water stressing. I also found that side dressing with a fertilizer was useless because the drippers didn't provide water to carry the nutrients down to the roots. The most effective way to get nutrients to the roots was to fertigate with chemicals just like "Big Ag" does- that's a BIG Mel NO-NO!. 
 Since I couldn't do the right thing and pull up the system and start over with more irrigation controllers and lines, I opted to get up earlier and just get off my duff, grab a cup of coffee, and hand water. I am now one with my garden- I can now spot problems when they are small and am OK with my routine. The only problem I encounter now is when I go on vacation- haven't found anyone who seems to know how to water veggies. Last sitter top-watered everything last season so much my veggies had powdery mildew, early blight, and bud dropping problems that shut things down for the season.
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Post  plantoid 7/3/2019, 7:14 am

Using time clocks set at different time for say 10 min once per 24 hrs and running them starting from an hour after sundown with the last one being running two hours before sunrise to give time for water to soak down before solar evaporation strikes usually gives the water enough time to soak down below the top three inches ,  it will also take down the decaying dressing of fish , blood & bone meal to the roots .

 The misting sprays I've mentioned  can be tied or wired with soft copper wire  to a cane so they are made to spray horizontally or slightly upwards so two can cover an area of six foot by six foot if they are opposed to each other and six feet apart   . Obviously the spray will drift if it's windy it's one of the contradictions of using them

 Putting the sprays on  sand angling them slightly down so they reach out a max of 3 foot helps reduce the problem but I found I needed to put a mister every 2 foot six inches apart for best effect .
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Post  mrcmb99 7/14/2019, 12:21 am

No_Such_Reality wrote:Try the squeeze test and measure like compost.  

Since my environment is dry I'm not a fan of the point drippers and use the spray or bubble drippers.   I find in the low humidity environment if the peat in the mix isn't aged almost to extinction, that the drippers tend to channel vertically.

What is the squeeze test?  I'm sorry, new to all of this!
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Post  No_Such_Reality 7/17/2019, 12:03 am

Pretty much what it sounds like, squueze a clump in your hand as a ball ( hand puck) If water freely squeezes out, it is too wet.  If it forms a ball and look shiny wet, its high side wet.  If it doesn't stay in a ball, doesnt form a ball and crumbles immediately.  its too dry. If it crumbles on light tap its too dry

If it forms a ball and breaks apart but stays clumped with a little tap, it's probably just right.
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