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School Garden & Irrigation

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Post  milaneyjane on 11/7/2019, 11:50 am

School garden help needed—especially what type of irrigation. Nine years ago I put in square foot gardens at the elementary school I work at. We are rebuilding the gardens beds after realizing that we need an irrigation system. Summer volunteers are not following they on watering. We have grant money as well as a plumber willing to donate his time. My question to you all, if you had a few thousand dollars, an outdoor water spigot within 20 feet, and ample space, which bed design and irrigation design would you use? We would like at least 8 4x4 beds. My thought is four 8 foot long, 18 inches tall beds with wood bench area along outside the beds. We are in Minnesota so it needs to be winter hardy.
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Post  OhioGardener on 11/7/2019, 12:44 pm

I put in underground 3/4" PVC pipes to each raised bed, with a shut-off valve on each upright pipe, and used that to feed the 1/2" main line and 1/4" drip line tubing. There is a filter, 30psi pressure regulator, and timer on the faucet feeding the PVC pipe so that it is automatically regulated.  In the fall, after the need for watering is over, I blow out the lines with a low pressure air compressor so that they do not freeze during the winter. This was the third year on this system, and it has worked great.

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Post  milaneyjane on 11/7/2019, 12:50 pm

Do you see a benefit from drip hose on top of the beds versus burying the irrigation in the beds?
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Post  OhioGardener on 11/7/2019, 12:59 pm

The main benefit of it being on top for me is that, 1) I can watch it to verify it is working correctly, 2) I can cover the drip lines with mulch to prevent evaporation, and 3) It is much easier to maintain or repair should it need it.  But, that said, since the beds were already built and in use, on top of the soil was the easiest/best way to go.

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Post  markqz on 11/7/2019, 1:52 pm

Drip irrigation always silts/clogs and distributes water unevenly. At least for me. Maybe I have bad plumbing. In the standard garden, the drip tubing interferes with hoeing/weeding. So I tend to prefer some type of spray mechanism.

This is just speculation -- I'm new to SFG -- but with a square foot garden you have the possibility of putting a simple structure over the top and having water spray down. This would make it easier to detect when something has gone wrong and access the parts to fix it.
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Post  OhioGardener on 11/7/2019, 4:45 pm

@markqz wrote:Drip irrigation always silts/clogs and distributes water unevenly. At least for me. Maybe I have bad plumbing. In the standard garden, the drip tubing interferes with hoeing/weeding. So I tend to prefer some type of spray mechanism.

This is just speculation -- I'm new to SFG -- but with a square foot garden you have the possibility of putting a simple structure over the top and having water spray down. This would make it easier to detect when something has gone wrong and access the parts to fix it.

I am using the 1/4" Soaker Dripline with 6" spacing from Dripworks, and in the 3 years they have been in use there has not been any clogging of the emitters. I am on well water, and I installed a 10 micron filter on the faucet before the timer & pressure regulator, which keeps the water clean as it goes through the system.

The problem with spraying is the amount of water lost to evaporation. With drip irrigation just below the mulch, there is no evaporation.

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