It’s been dry. With less than an inch of rain in weeks and weeks, and record high temperatures, our plants look wilted. Whereas we systematically irrigate germinating vegetable crops and leafy greens, I usually rely on the not so uncommon spring rains for our seed crops to get established. However, this year as I was weeding some mizuna seed plants, I pulled a couple to rogue out some underperformers.
The mizuna roots had barely extended from the bone dry root ball. My heart broke a little for these guys. We quickly added the seed gardens to the irrigation list.
Our irrigation regime is designed around both overhead sprinklers and drip tape.
We water most vegetables with sprinklers. I love sprinklers since they don’t interfere with regular weeding and they are easy to move.
The sprinklers are connected with a simple pressure fit plug. (This convenient plastic junction is also the weakest part of our system. After 4 years of use, we had to start replacing broken inserts.)
To move the line, two people stretch the pipe over 6 beds to the next irrigation spot. We plan our plantings to reduce the number of sprinkler moves.
I decided to use drip tape for the emergency seed crop irrigation, as the sprinkler lines were tied up elsewhere. Also, if this turns out to be the summer where it doesn’t rain, we might need to keep watering these crop when they go to flower and start to set seed.
We use drip tape on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucurbits and flowering plants. These guys all have fungal and bacterial diseases that spread when their leaves (and flowers or seeds) are wet.
INTERCHANGEABLE DRIP AND SPRINKLER SYSTEMS
Since we rotate crops with different irrigation needs through the field, we designed our irrigation system to accommodate sprinklers or drip tape everywhere.
We have regularly spaced valves with cam locks on our irrigation main lines.
We can attach a sprinkler line to a valve.
Or, we can install a drip tape header on a valve.
This flexibility reduces headaches. When the weather gets extreme, we have enough headaches as it is. If only irrigation were as easy as hanging a fresh load of laundry to challenge the rain gods!