Garden Watering – Drip System or Soaker Hose vs. Hand Watering

Watering your vegetable garden by hand – using a watering can or the garden hose – is a perfectly reasonable way to take care of your plants, particularly if you have a small garden. The last thing you want to do is set a sprinkler in the middle of your garden and soak the foliage. Why?

• Evaporation will prevent much of the water from getting to the roots of your plants, as will runoff if you have particularly dense foliage sheltering the roots.

• Water on the foliage magnifies the sun’s rays, burning your plants.

• Fungal infections are spread through water droplets.

You want to aim your watering can directly at the roots of your plants. If you would prefer to use your garden hose, there are nozzle attachments that will direct a gentle stream of water to the roots, or lightly spray new seedlings until they have firmly taken root.

If you have a larger garden or simply do not have the time to go from plant to plant with a watering can or garden hose every time you need to water, you can purchase drip tape or soaker hose kits. Both of them aim water directly at the roots of your plants and require low water pressure to do so. You will want to place the tape or hose about 2 inches from the stems of your plants. Cover the irrigation tubing with a shallow layer of mulch to extend their lifespans – just be careful when weeding that you do not cut into them. They can be reused each year with proper cleaning and storage at the end of the growing season.

Whichever type of irrigation system you choose, it is a good idea to use long, U-shaped nails every two feet or so to secure it in place. A backflow preventer is a good idea as well, to prevent anything from moving up from the soil through the tubing and into your drinking water. In lieu of hunting down and buying all of these items separately, you can order the very reasonably priced (particularly since it is reusable year after year) EnviroDrip irrigation kit advertised below; it has everything you need to set up your drip irrigation system:

You will not leave the water running 24/7. Two or three hours twice a week should be sufficient to promote deep roots and keep your plants happy – turn on the faucet and adjust the flow so that it is a slow, steady drip and then let it go for the allotted time. You may need to adjust the watering time or frequency depending on your climate and the weather conditions you are experiencing in a given season. The hotter and drier, the more water your vegetables will need. Purchase a rain gauge – Ace Hardware Superstore has a good selection of them, just type “rain gauge” into their search box – to help you calculate how often and how long you need to water your garden.

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