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Old 02-12-2018, 12:48 PM
 
478 posts, read 1,635,381 times
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I have a 45 X 50 vegetable plot. Won't be planting anything for about 5-6 weeks at least, but am doing some planning.

I want to try drip irrigation this summer. I don't need anything super-high-tech or automated, since our climate is so changeable, I may go weeks where rain is sufficient, and then have a three-week dry spell hit. However, since I have a well with a less-than-ideal yield, when I do water, I'd rather have the efficiency of a drip system over a large, oscillating sprinkler.

The facts and questions:

1. Garden is 200' downhill from the house. For now, I'd rather have a system where the 'head' can have a hose dragged down and screwed into it, vs having any permanent piping trenched in the ground all the way down there from the house (for several reasons).

2. One major issue is emitter spacing. Some crops I'll plant 6" apart (onions, carrots), some 12" apart (potatoes, peppers, corn), some 30" apart like large indeterminate tomatoes. So pricing it out, I have to buy drip line in either 100' or 500' quantities, and some spacings I'll only need 35 - 50' of (if I want to have one emitter per plant at the right spacing). For the tomatoes in particular, I can't determine my best option.

3. I will want a couple zones since some plants need more water than others.

4. I need about 450 - 500' total drip line, 250' of which is probably best to do at 6" emitter spacing, the rest will be the larger spacing.

5. Due to the logistics of trying to work in fertilizer during the season under a drip line, is there a way to use liquid fertilizer through the drip system?

6. How much water is enough? I have no way to calculate how much water equals 1" of rainfall, or whatever.
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Old 02-12-2018, 07:59 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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I have used drip systems for about 20 years, currently on my 70 or so bonsai, and in summer, the vegetable garden. For tomatoes, I find that two emitters (1gallon/hour) works great, but time watered varies with the season. I got by with 20 minutes every other day when they were small in May-June, but when the got big and fruited in July at high 70s/low 80s here, an hour. Your climate, soil type, wind, and how much sun all affect it. If they need more water, they will wilt, so you can tell. Use the 1/2 tubing, and it’s OK exposed though better if you mulch over it. If you have to move emitters for any reason they have little plugs. I like to do a short run of 1/4” for each plant off of the 1/2”, then a “T” and 2 emitter, one on each side of the plant, about 2” from the base. They work well for me on asparagus, cucumbers, peas and beans also. They do have a liquid fertilizer dispense that attaches at the timer, but I find that proper additives to the soil when planting, and one more application later on is enough. I mix in a local product (below) that is amazing in the root zone when planting. Perhaps you can find something similar at a really good local nursery. About July I mix up Miraclegro a gallon jug at a time and water each plant with it, but that does take a while.

https://www.hendrikusorganics.com/or...nobloom-5-2-4/
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Old 02-12-2018, 08:06 PM
 
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I use those 'dripper hoses' to water my garden. They are just rubber hoses that leak and I put them on a timer so if we get a long wet period they run less or more during a dry spell. They are quite cheap and seem to do the job. I just configure them to go along side the plants so there is very little wasted water.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:27 AM
 
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With wider spaced plants, like tomatoes, I had two ideas:

1. Run maybe a couple parallel runs of drip tape or drip line

2. Run a mainline next to them, and then run a couple short laterals next to each plant, one on either side, so each plant gets maybe 4 emitters in a 'square' around the plant, like this:

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Old 02-14-2018, 09:09 AM
 
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I've run some large dripline setups in the past. They are very much the easy button.


You can buy injectors for fertilizer that just screw in the dripline. You'll need to do some figuring to determine what concentration to use, etc.


Emitters are sized in gallons per hour. An inch of rain is 0.6 gallons per square foot. That will allow you to get close and you can fine tune with either changing out emitters or run times.
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:18 AM
 
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Thanks, TWG. That's the hard part, knowing how far the water from one emitter will 'spread' from the source. Will it go out a foot? More? Less?

My soil is a pretty well-drained loam. It doesn't puddle for long, even after heavy torrential thunderstorms, yet under straw mulch, is still fairly moist even after 5 days of 90 degree rainless weather thanks to high levels of organic matter I've added to it.

So - what about pressure? I've seen some drip lines that say they put out say 0.5 gph at say, 20 psi, and you use a 20 psi regulator. But how is that affected by the incoming pressure? If you have 60 psi coming in and use a 20 psi regulator, vs. 40 psi coming in does it really end up the same 20 psi coming out? I have a well, and my pressure is good at the spigot, but with pressure loss going down 200 feet of hose, but doing downhill (which reduces pressure loss thanks to gravity), what do I really end up with?
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:33 AM
 
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My other thought was, since my entire system as I've designed it would use about 9GPM if on all at once (my well only puts out about half that), I am trying to split into multiple 'zones' - at least three, since that will keep my well able to replenish as fast as the water is drawn. The simplest way I've found is to just set up three runs of mainline, connect them near the "head" of the system, and install a shutoff valve on each mainline. I can do it manually since I'm not in a climate where I have to water constantly. If the last couple summers are a guide, I can go weeks where I don't need to water at all (except perhaps new plantings), and weeks where we barely get a drop of rain. Last July we got 10" of rain, and in September we didn't even get an inch all month.

Welcome to the East Coast haha.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:16 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
27,825 posts, read 49,253,412 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hairmetal4ever View Post
Thanks, TWG. That's the hard part, knowing how far the water from one emitter will 'spread' from the source. Will it go out a foot? More? Less?

My soil is a pretty well-drained loam. It doesn't puddle for long, even after heavy torrential thunderstorms, yet under straw mulch, is still fairly moist even after 5 days of 90 degree rainless weather thanks to high levels of organic matter I've added to it.

So - what about pressure? I've seen some drip lines that say they put out say 0.5 gph at say, 20 psi, and you use a 20 psi regulator. But how is that affected by the incoming pressure? If you have 60 psi coming in and use a 20 psi regulator, vs. 40 psi coming in does it really end up the same 20 psi coming out? I have a well, and my pressure is good at the spigot, but with pressure loss going down 200 feet of hose, but doing downhill (which reduces pressure loss thanks to gravity), what do I really end up with?
I have no idea how far the water actually spreads, and that does depend on the soil. Sandy soil drains faster so nees more gph. With 2 each on the tomatoes and just one on cucumbers, asparagus and the rest, the 1 gallon emitters kept the plants nice and healthy all summer, in fact we were still picking tomatoes in November, so I have to think it spread out enough, or at least the roots found the water.

A pressure gauge can be bought for about $10, plus fittings to connect it if you want to test out the systems. It would be easier, however, to just place a 1pgh emitter into a gallon jug and see if it fills in an hour. If not, just run them longer or slipt off more separate runs. My run from the faucet and timer is close to 100', but I use a 5/8" hose to the garden, then attach that to the 1/2" tubing at the vegetable garden. At about 30' I have a brass "Y" that splits off for the bonsai. All run at the same time and deliver the appropriate amounts of water, but I probably have 50 psi, and I have seen 44 psi recommended. I have never used a regulator, and no problems.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:09 AM
 
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I wasn't sure if the pressure recommendations are to keep the flow low enough (that it doesn't run off) or if there's actually a danger of the tubing splitting under high pressure.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:33 AM
 
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What gets expensive are all the damned fittings! The tape and line itself doesn't look too bad, until you calculate that you need hundreds of fittings at a buck or two apiece!
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