The Q&A Archives: Drip Irrigation For Veg Garden

Question: How do I make a drip system for a vegetable garden with various plants?

Answer: You'll find lots of pre-assembled kits for drip systems, or you can custom make one with a little guidance from a knowledgeable employee of a local hardware store.

I wish there were some hard and fast rules for watering with a drip system, but there are numerous variables involved, such as type of soil, how fast or slow it drains, sun and wind exposure at your site, temperature, age and condition of the plants and much more. It's important to learn the specific needs of your landscape, both for its health and your water bill. Use the information below to determine how moist the soil is before automatically applying more water.

Use a soil probe (any long, pointed piece of metal or wood to poke into the soil) to check how far water has penetrated. The probe moves easily through moist soil, but stops when it hits hard dry soil. The following depths are a guideline for how deep water should reach:

Shrubs 2-3 feet
Vegetables, flowers, herbs 1 - 1 1/2 feet
Succulents 1-2 inches

It's important to water slowly, deeply, and infrequently so that salts in the water don't accumulate around the roots of the plants and water seeps out to where the new roots are growing. I suggest that you initally set your timer to 1-3 hours--you'll need to check how deep the water penetrates, and then adjust for an accurate setting.

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