Category Archives: Irrigation

Planting, roguing, thinning, watering, and pigs

This week we got all the frost sensitive seed crops into the ground: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans, and some more flowers.

Seed crops planted on the same date go into the same beds. This lets us prepare the beds  at the same time and doesn’t leave unused area to grow weeds. We alternate blocks of Solanaceaes (tomatoes and peppers), beans, and flowers to prevent cross pollination between different varieties. Growing in blocks (rather than long rows) also increases the likelihood of pollination within the same variety.

Warm season annuals are the second big seed crop planting on the farm. Frost hardy crops went in a month ago and are now well established.

I walk the Mizuna patch daily, pulling out early bolters and any less than vigourous plants.

Poppies are also coming along. The bottom row is the density these guys were seeded. The top row has been thinned. Growing your own seed means you can afford heavy seeding since your closets are full of seed.

The poppies and the mizuna enjoyed the drip tape during the previous week’s heat wave.  And speaking of hot and dry …

This week, we irrigated garlic for the first time in my ten years of garlic growing.  Normally, a good mulch keeps the garlic nice and moist. This year though, as we pulled weeds from the straw, the dry soil told me the garlic had depleted the soil moisture. With the garlic already growing faster than usual in the spring heat, I was afraid to stunt the plants by keeping them from drinking.

Of course, the morning after we watered these alliums, the rain came down to our heart’s content. But would it have, if we hadn’t moved sprinklers onto these plants and irrigated for three hours?

And the real big news this week is the arrival of our seasonal guests.

These four brothers arrived on Thursday. They seem to have made the transition here quite smoothly. Now,  they wait for any rogued mizuna plants!

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Irrigating with Sprinklers and Drip Tape

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.

OVERHEAD SPRINKLERS


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.

DRIP TAPE

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!