User avatar
natsea
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:36 am
Location: Central WA (zone 4)

Best way to water veggies?

Hello fellow gardeners. I have a raised bed garden in a climate that receives a lot of sunlight and warm days in the summer (zone 4 in central Washington state). I'm currently using a drip irrigation system that's set to an automatic timer that waters the plants for about 45 minutes every morning starting at 7:30 AM.

Here's my situation. My garden is at my weekend cabin property and I'm only there on the weekends. The drip irrigation system works, but it requires a lot of fixing and tweaking and making sure the tubes aren't plugged with sediment or debri, etc and making sure the watering timer works properly (which it often doesn't - maybe it gets too hot, who knows).

My question is this - what if I scrapped the drip irrigation system that waters the plants a little bit each day and instead deep watered all the plants myself with the hose (at their roots) once or twice a week when I'm there on the weekends? Is it better to water a little every day or water deeply once or twice a week? Thank you! :)

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Best way to water veggies?

Ummm.... like most garden questions, the answer is it depends. In general, I think deep watering less frequently is better. But it depends a bit on the weather. Where I am, we just finished pretty much a solid month of temps in the mid to high 90's, clear and sunny, and near zero rain. I have been deep watering about every other day to help things survive. So if your weather is like that and you left everything for a week, no matter how well you watered before you left, you could come back to a totally fried garden.

In more reasonable weather and especially if you can come twice a week sometimes, I think your plants would actually prefer the deep watering and do better.

Caveats: deep watering takes a lot of water and a lot of time. Water, water, water, go water something else, and then come back and water, water, water the first ones again. When you think you have done enough, get your trowel and dig down, see how far down the soil is damp. You may be very surprised, thinking you have "deep watered," but only the top inch of soil is actually moistened.

And the leaving it to fend for itself for a week ONLY works if everything is well mulched. That shades and cools the soil and conserves moisture AND suppresses weeds, so you don't come back and find your garden over-run with weeds.

Welcome to the Forum! :D
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
natsea
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:36 am
Location: Central WA (zone 4)

Re: Best way to water veggies?

Thank you rainbowgardener for your post. You're definitely right about how watering by hand takes a lot more water than one thinks! I always think I've given the plants plenty of water only to dig a little in the dirt and see that it's still bone dry. I've done a bit more research since I posted my question and I think my best option is to stick with the drip irrigation and figure out what's making it a hassle. For example, we're on a well and we get a lot of sediment in our water. I have a small filter on the garden hose, but I think a better sediment filter and larger soaker hose tubing (I've been using 1/4" and may switch to 1/2") will help. Happy gardening!

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: Best way to water veggies?

Hmmmmm........ I have never grown in a raise bed. I grow in the soil that was on my lot. It is clay, silt, sand. Heavy black. I get water in a pipeline from the canal above me. I use sprinkler irrigation. The irrigation lines are 4 inch aluminum with a rainbird every 40 feet on the run. I run this once a week and it runs all night about 12 hours. It puts down about 1.5 inches of rain over the area. The plants seem to do just fine getting rained on like this once a week.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3536
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

Re: Best way to water veggies?

Welcome, natsea.

My gardens are at a distance from home and, maybe, in a similar environment to yours. However, they are on glacial till and the water drains very quickly. Irrigation is essential because a summer storm that drops 1/4" of rain is a big deal. One-half to an inch is about all that can be expected through a summer month and most storms are so minor that the sprinkles barely settle the dust :? .

Farm field crops are usually irrigated but their requirements are not necessarily those of an annual vegetable garden. Those fields seldom or never receive water daily.

I try for 3/4" of water on my gardens, twice a week. Perhaps, 1/2", 3 times a week would be better. There are variable like wind and these 90 degree temperatures we have been having lately :roll: .

I have no experience with drip irrigation. Surely, there is information out there or in the manual that came with your equipment about how much water is being emitted. Or, there are meters which can go on the house to show gallons used.

Plant roots occupy an area of soil but it is possible to gauge a gardens water use by measuring its square feet, deciding on the amount of water you would like to cover those feet, and knowing that a gallon provides 231 cubic inches water.

A square foot has 144 square inches so, you see, a gallon at 1/2" across that surface only covers about 1 1/2 square feet. It takes a lot of water! Drip irrigation is very efficient but it must require a good amount of time to provide very much water.

Best of Luck! (Red flag warning today to our fire season. Best of Luck on that, as well.)

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

jasonvanorder
Senior Member
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:18 pm
Location: West Michigan zone 6a

Re: Best way to water veggies?

Similar to Jal I just use a sprinkler on a tripod. Depending on the daily temps and how much rain we get I run it for a couple hours in the morning every 3-4 days. But im in the garden doing something daily so i can tell when things get a bit too dry

pepperhead212
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1578
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Best way to water veggies?

Welcome to the forum, natsea!

So instead of getting rid of the drip irrigation, why not just do it less often, for longer? Wouldn't that accomplish the same thing? I have my entire garden on 3 timers, with 10 outputs - this way I can deep water things that need it, while other things, like all of the SIPs, get it every 12 hours. And you have the right approach in getting a better filter, and the 1/2" tubing. And you may want to invest in a dependable timer, if the one you have doesn't always work. I have 3 Melnor timers, which I only had stop once on me due to some bad batteries - I only use Duracels now, which last the entire summer, no matter how hot it gets! It is amazing how fast things wilt when the water isn't there on schedule. And irregular watering is a prime cause of blossom end rot.
Dave

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: Best way to water veggies?

About that raised bed, is it on the ground so that the plant roots can go down into the ground under the bed? You know that plant roots will go quite deep, down to 8 feet deep sometimes.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11335
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Best way to water veggies?

I have a community garden. I water about twice a week unless it rains. I have no timer. Timers are not allowed but I do have an irrigation system that I run for an hour every time I do water.

The secrets to being able to do that are

1. Prepare the soil well. Make it deep, friable and well drained. Add a lot of compost every time you plant. 2-4 inches + slow release fertilizer or well composted manure. (I follow my soil test recommendations. I only need to add nitrogen and not much else. I did add sulfur since my pH was 7.6 and I used steer manure. Chicken manure would have made the soil even more alkaline)

2. Selecting the right plants. Also starting them in place. Plants adapt to the conditions they are growing in. The ones that can't won't be around. Select the right plants for the season. I can plant lettuce in full sun during the cooler months but in the summer, leafy greens need to be planted under the citrus trees where it is cooler. Normally citrus has a dense canopy but I trim my trees so the center stays open and light gets through.

3. Water deep. I run my sprinkler system for one hour and I test the depth. I have water going down at least 4-6 inches.
The garden gets some rain since it normally sprinkles there in the early mornings. When there is not rain or it has been very
hot. I will water every other day instead until the soil is soaked at least 4 inches deep. For me that is about 45 minutes.

4. Keep the weeds down since they compete for water and nutrients.

5. Mulch to hold in moisture and slow evaporation. In really hot summers, I plant long squash (upo) on the overhead trellis and that provides some shading for the plants below. Sometimes it is too much shade for some plants, but I can cover my overhead trellis with 50% shade cloth instead or plant more under the trees. .
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

bobbyg
Full Member
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue May 24, 2016 1:50 pm

Re: Best way to water veggies?

natsea wrote: Here's my situation. My garden is at my weekend cabin property and I'm only there on the weekends. The drip irrigation system works, but it requires a lot of fixing and tweaking and making sure the tubes aren't plugged with sediment or debri, etc and making sure the watering timer works properly (which it often doesn't - maybe it gets too hot, who knows).
Disclaimer - I am a rookie. Only set up drip irrigation about 2 months back but to me it seems your issue is more with the drip irrigation not working properly like it supposed to do. Why the tubes are plugged with sediment etc? And if the timer is not working get a better one. That will solve the problems you are having.

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”