The frequent question for me is, "What do you do for irrigation?".
Well, first of all, I have much of the yard on an automatic system. The veggie garden is on for 15 minutes, three times per week. My controller allows me to do a seasonal adjustment (% of current setting) and I generally set that percent to the current high temperatures for the week. If it is forecast to be in the 90's, I will set it to 90%, if it is going to be a scorcher,I will set it above 100%. As the sun lowers in the fall, I lower it to 50 - 60%. As a general rule of thumb, I activate the irrigation when I turn the heat off for the year (April) and deactivate it when the heat goes back on (October). We do live in a unique climate where it is either raining and cool or not raining and warm...with very little transition time.
So, what does the irrigation system look like?
- The fruit trees are not on the automatic system. I want my fruit trees to set a very deep root system so that they are more resiliant to my watering schedule. I have had good luck with my system: an hour of low running hose for each tree every three weeks. A little labor intensive, but is is only for about half of the year, so I really only water these trees about 8 - 10 times.
- This has been frustrating over time. I have tried to set up a dripper system with emmiters in series, snaking through the garden. This enevitably turns into a blown out emmiter with overwatering in some areas and no watering in others. With much of my irrigation done at night, it could be weeks before I detect it (especially this time of the year where the plants are large). It is especially frustrating when you leave for vacation and you come back to a huge water bill. So, what has been a reliable solution? Two strategies. For plants where you have many plants (Chard, Beans, Cucumbers) I have gone to a series of sprayers placed directly into the main black irrigation line (the BIG black hose). For more space intensive plants where you only have a few (tomatoes, zuchinni) I use individual emmiters, but the emmiter is plugged into the BIG black hose and a small line directs the water to the plant. This way the only pressurized water is in the BIG black hose, which has shown to be reliable with regard to leaks.
This post I will add the expense of irrigation. After receiving my water bill, I will charge $20. Seems like a lot, but if you look at what we have harvested, it is really just a drop in the bucket.
Three days of harvests
1) Seven pears ($5.00)
2) Six peaches ($3.00)
3) Two cukes ($2.50)
4) Two zukes ($1.50)
5) 3/4 lb of green grapes ($1.50)
6) 2 lbs of frozen peaches ($4.00)
1) Ten peaches ($4.00)
2) Bunch of chard ($3.00)
3) Two zukes ($1.00)
4) 1 1/2 lbs of green grapes ($3.00)
1) Eleven peaches ($5.50)
2) Four cukes ($4.00)
3) 1 1/2 lbs of pickling cukes ($3.00)
4) Basket of Cherry Tomatoes ($2.00)
5) Four large tomatoes ($3.00)
Total Harvested (Year-to-Date): $227.50
Expenses (Year-to-Date): $26.00