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mgh-pa 04-08-2013 06:52 AM

Need Help With Garden Watering System...New to this.
My wife and I are going to start gardening this year. We decided to go with a 12' x 24' footprint to get our feet wet. I plan to turn the ground over this week, and begin the fencing and adding of mushroom soil and planting soil this weekend to prep for planting.

We are also going to incorporate a rain barrel watering system (I do have a regular spigot accessible if I need to truly water during dry spells) to hopefully do the bulk of the irrigation. I'm going to rig it up myself, but the problem I'm running into is how I should get the water from the barrel to the garden (~50-60ft) and then what to use for drip irrigation.

I was told by a friend to use a soaker hose in a zig-zag pattern in between the turned virgin soil and the added mushroom/planting soil. I've read online, however, that soaker hoses don't do a great job. Thoughts?

As for the line from the barrel to the garden, what's be there? I don't really feel like digging a 60ft trench 36" down (our frost line in our zone), so could I bury shallow, and incorporate some way to blow the line out for winterizing? If so, how would I do that?

I'm a visual learner, so pictures or links to pictures would be appreciated. I'm essentially looking for explanations on valves, fittings, hoses, etc, I should be looking at to get from the barrel to the garden, and then to the irrigation system (not to mention what's best for drip irrigation).

If you're wondering, we're planning to plant peppers, potatoes, string beans, and not sure what else:)

joecaption 04-08-2013 07:36 AM

Please go back and add your location to your profile, not just mention it in your post.
Just go to Quick links to edit.
Why is the garden so far away from the water source?
Trying to figure how this is going to be cost effective to do.
Going to need a pump to get the water out that far, a float switch so it's not running once the barrels dry, a timer so you do not have to keep turning the pump on and off.
Ya i've never had much luck with a soaker hose. Always seems to to not evenly water the garden and just gets in the way when trying to pull the weeds.
Here's some ideas.

SeniorSitizen 04-08-2013 08:46 AM

Being you are building your garden from scratch, with the correct elevation of the barrel you can design it to be flood irrigated with your watering system . Keep it simple so you can enjoy it . So forget the pumps and all that yada, yada, yada and do a gravity system with a garden hose for a garden that size . Maintaining 6 inches of mulch depth will take care of 99 percent of the weed problem . I don't believe we're talking a commercial business here so we certainly don't need to know where you live .

mgh-pa 04-08-2013 09:37 AM

Profile location added.

The garden is positioned in a spot to receive the best and most consistent sun exposure through the day. It's hard to explain without photos, but this is the best location. It's also positioning it at a steep enough grade from a downspout that will allow great flow from the rain barrel to the garden.

I don't require pumps, crazy drip irrigation kits, etc, etc., although I'm always open to putting more tech in than necessary :) I like the idea of a drip irrigation system because it can be hands off and save me from having to lug a hose around the garden the whole time. There's a lot of mowing near and around the garden between the spigot and/or the train barrel location that I also don't just want to run a length of hose out there permanently,either.

I'm acquiring two 50 gallon drums from Pepsi (father-in-law) that housed syrup. I'll clean these out, and elevate them, unscrew the spout opening, attach a pvc coupling that matches the thread (it's a common thread), and run the valve(s) from there. I'm thinking one valve for filling buckets if need be, and another connected to a line that will run to the garden.

From there, I'm at a loss.

I will get pictures posted tonight to help illustrate as well.

SeniorSitizen 04-08-2013 11:11 AM

If "lugging" 50 -60 ft. of hose is too much work in PA I say forget the garden.

mgh-pa 04-08-2013 11:20 AM


Originally Posted by Fairview (Post 1154796)
If "lugging" 50 -60 ft. of hose is too much work in PA I say forget the garden.

If you're insinuating I'm lazy, you're quite mistaken. I just don't want a hose lying across the lawn the whole time (mowing specifically). If I could have a supply to the garden it would look clean, and plus, it would allow me to conserve water at times.

djlandkpl 04-08-2013 12:19 PM

Rent a ditch witch and pull a length of 3/4 or 1 inch poly pipe from your house to the garden. The poly pipe is what is used for sprinkler systems. Using barbed fitting and clamps you can connect your hose bib to the poly pipe. On the other end you can connect it directly to your garden. Could be hose fitting and/or direct to drip.

I've left out some details like vacuum breakers and pressure regulators. The only drawback to this idea is you will need to blow the water out of the pipe each winter unless the pipe has a nice downward slope.

mgh-pa 04-08-2013 12:53 PM

Thanks. I saw the tubing at Lowes yesterday, but couldn't locate any of the barbed fittings, but I wasn't looking hard and didn't spend much time since I had no intentions of buying yet.

For a garden my size, would it be find to have the main line and the drip lines be the same diameter, or would it be better to step down in size?

Do you recommend piecing the kit together or buying a pre-built kit that many retailers online sell?

djlandkpl 04-08-2013 03:18 PM

I would do the main line in 1" so you have plenty of capacity, albeit limited by the volume from the hose. I'm suggesting 1" because someday you may want to tap directly into your house's water main and add a timer and valves. This saves you from doing it twice.

Once you are in the garden, drip supply lines are normally 1/2 inch. Drip doesn't need much water and the pressure needs to be reduced from the house pressure. Since this is your first year, I would go with a kit. As your gardening matures, then you could switch over to a custom setup.

Consider a timer for your watering. Drip has to run longer to be effective. In the hottest days of summer, I run my drip zone for 75 to 90 minutes.

mgh-pa 04-09-2013 07:33 AM

Sorry about the lack of pictures, I spent most of the evening turning the sod/soil over with my dad...with a shovel:( I was talking with my dad, and I think I'm just going to do what one of you mentioned and keep it simple this year. I will do a rain barrel, but just hook a hose up to it, and gravity water it. I can also run my hose from the house spigot and water by hand as well.

The only question I have with this is the argument that plants grow better and thrive much better with drip irrigation than overhead watering. Would I see more benefit from drip irrigation as opposed to conventional watering?

djlandkpl 04-09-2013 08:05 AM

Drip is better. Uses less water and it gets it down to the roots. Some plants don't do well with wet leaves, especially tomatoes.

mgh-pa 04-09-2013 09:25 AM


Originally Posted by djlandkpl (Post 1155326)
Drip is better. Uses less water and it gets it down to the roots. Some plants don't do well with wet leaves, especially tomatoes.

I've seen some pictures of drip lines being placed in trenches or the spacing between furrows. I wasn't really planning on planting in furrows, but can the drip line be placed on a relatively flat garden bed slightly below the soil line?

djlandkpl 04-09-2013 09:37 AM


Originally Posted by mgh-pa (Post 1155358)
I've seen some pictures of drip lines being placed in trenches or the spacing between furrows. I wasn't really planning on planting in furrows, but can the drip line be placed on a relatively flat garden bed slightly below the soil line?

I lay mine on top of the soil and they work fine. I leave them exposed so I know where they are for planting and so I can pull them up when I need to turn the soil.

mgh-pa 04-09-2013 09:49 AM

Thanks, that's good to know.

I've seen mention that it's necessary to buy a drip kit that is DESIGNED for barrel/gravity fed systems due to pressure differences in the systems designed to be used from a water source or pump. Is this correct?

djlandkpl 04-09-2013 10:03 AM

It would make sense but I do not know for sure. Are you going to get enough rain during the summer to support barrels? I know you could fill the barrel with a hose but then it makes more sense to go direct to house water.

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