Need Drip Irrigation Input

gltrap54July 31, 2011

Kicking around the idea of purchasing drip irrigation for my 30'x 40' vegetable garden & I was hoping GW would chime in. If running T-Tape off the 1/2" mainline, how far apart should the T-Tape (row) lines be spaced. Info says the T-Tape will spread water 2' in diameter (below ground) in the proper soil, so I'm assuming I'd need a line every 2 feet or 20 lines for my 40' wide garden. Also, would these row lines have to be moved each time I till?

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

You have to run your own test to determine what will work in your soil.

Where you want to grow, do this:
1. lay down the tape and run for 1 hour.
2/ stop for 1 hour
3. gently move the tape aside and dig a narrow trench across the wetted pattern.

How far sideways did it go?
How deep did it go?

Enough, or not?

If not,run another test, this time with the run-time 2 hours.
Repeat as above; dig; enough or not?.

Repeat with longer run-time, etc., until you get the results you need.

In my beds, I run my system 2 hours which holds everything in good condition for 5 to 7 days, depending upon the intervening weather and the plants' needs.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 6:49PM
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In sand, a single emitter spreads water a lot less than 2 feet. I would have a mixture of beds with 12" emitters and beds with 18" emitters (what I have). And yes, tilling and driplines do not mix. Basically, you put in a drip system when you are ready to go to no-till. Do not forget a valve at the lowest point to clear the lines in October.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 9:45PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

In the garden where I have driplines, I fork the soil rather than tilling it, but the issues are similar. The garden's organized in beds that are 3-4 feet wide and 20-30 feet long. When I'm ready to prepare one, I pull the dripline up to the top of the bed. It can then be forked (or tilled).

I have found that the line often gets tangled with the plants or covered with soil, especially where there are perennials. This can make it hard to check for leaks or to replace the line. You often also wind up moving it aside in sections for weeding, which then requires pulling the whole row tight again (and making sure the line hasn't ended up on top of or pushing aside any plants). Same thing for harvest.

So I think drip irrigation might be better-suited for plantings that are either widely spaced (like tomatoes and squash) or in straight rows with space between, so that you can run the line 6 inches on either side of the main stems.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 7:42AM
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Thanks everyone for your help! With the info I'm reading here, I'm thinking drip irrigation may not be a viable option for my garden......... The problem I'm seeing is not being able to till without first moving the drip lines and in a garden 30' x 40' that would be a major pain.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 11:04AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

It's not really that big a hassle. You can take up 40 lengths of 30' dripline in about half an hour. If you till once or twice a year, it's not a big deal. Good luck whatever you decide!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 1:00PM
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Dan Staley

I'd rather move the driplines when I turn the soil in fall, instead of standing there with a hose 4-6x/week.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 1:27PM
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click in the picture below to see how I setup mine. I have 4 GPH drippers goint to each plant root system. you can see how well plants are responding. Behl's Garden

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 3:45PM
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I am trying drip tape this year and my garden just happens to also be 30x40. I have 13 rows 30 feet long. I also covered the rows with plastic mulch. My soil is sand and I can run the drip all night long with no water running out from under the plastic. I believe this system has saved my garden this season due to the record heat and drought in our area. There is no way I could have kept this garden irrigated without the drip system. I want to till and grow a cover crop this winter so I also need to move the drip system. It was so easy to assemble that I plan to disassemble it for the winter. If you have the space you may be able to just drag the whole setup out of the way and then drag it back into place after tilling. I'm still learning but so far I am very pleased. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 4:37PM
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Not much input ( except that I am into it whole hawg next year) but a tip .... Watch for irrigation supplies on sale now.

About 3 weeks ago, while buying 500 ft of additional soaker hoses, I found 9 ( all they had left) 3/4 inch solenoid valves at the local Home Depot on closeout for $7 each. They had control transformers ( all the valves run off of 24 VAC) for $7.45.

They had controllers on sale too but I have other plans/PLCs to automate it.

Next year, I'm backing WAY off of my plantings, building a garden knox to keep the vermin out and going to a more controlled ( I hope) garden.

This year is the earliest that I reckon I have ever thought about "next year" but I'm tired. Failures galore here ... but "next year" LOL

Keep your eyes on the sales.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 7:29PM
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OP here......

All this gives me food for thought........... Initially I felt drip irrigation might not be for me, now I'm not so sure! This is a project for next year, so I've got plenty of time to decide. Even buying prefab material, I'm only looking at around $175 & I've probably wasted that much in water this summer!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 10:15PM
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Well, it's a done deal! Received my drip kit from DripWorks today ($220, yikes!)....... Ordered an EZ Flo injector also. What fertilizer does everyone use in their injectors? Also, who buries their T-tape?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 7:45PM
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Handsome54 I use an injector I got from Home depot. To measure the amount I took two 35mm film canisters and taped them together and drilled them full of holes. I fill them up with Peter's 20-20-20 and put them in the injector and water as usual. Works like a charm.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 12:47AM
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Novel idea thisisme! I'll have to give it a try once I'm up & running! Thanks for the tip!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:36AM
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I guess I should have mentioned. I used a 1/16th bit so the fertilizer would release over time instead of all at once. The canisters are always empty when I check them but I'm sure it probably takes 15-20 mins before the canisters are empty.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 11:23PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

If you want to till without moving the tape, bury the lines deep enough that you won't hit them. The underground drip I have seen runs on about 8 psi, so the pressure is pretty low, yet it doesn't have problems.

The other thing I've noticed with underground drip is that it can be difficult to get the water to the surface to germinate shallow seeds. You would want to plant directly over the buried lines, and run the water quite a while to get the water soaked up to the surface to germinate seeds if you don't have natural rainfall to get the job done. Else, on a garden use a sprinkler to get the surface wet and the seeds up.

Also with underground drip, you would water daily to replace the water that is consumed/lost, keeping the soil at the right moisture all the time rather than saturating the soil, then letting it dry out until the soil gets dry and the plants slow down. Having a timer set to run the water for half an hour or so daily--depending on plant water consumption--would be an easy way to keep the soil moist.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 2:17AM
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