gather and grow

Homegrown, hand-spun living in the city

What does a sensible gardening couple do as their last project in the garden before the expected arrival of a new baby?

Answer: Install a drip irrigation system.

We’ve always hand-watered our plants up until now. Frankly, it’s my preference. Walking around the garden in the mornings, watering can in hand, I end up checking on the plants and noticing every bit of new growth, new blossoms, what’s ready to be harvested. Similarly, I notice immediately if there’s wilting, or evidence of pests, or anything else troubling the plants. Slowly and patiently watching the water flow into the soil, I develop an intimate sense of my garden and its needs, almost like checking in on a community of friends every day.

But with the impending arrival of a new family member… we’ve been told we’ll have our hands more than full, and having one less chore in the mornings seems like a good idea right now. So we installed a drip irrigation system in the garden this week. drip-2drip-4

While researching drip irrigation options (this website turned out to be great source of information), we found that we had two primary systems to choose from: the soaker hose and the somewhat more complex drip emitter system. We decided on the soaker hose method because it’s really easy to install and to adapt to new planting patterns. The soaker hose is a black recycled rubber hose with tiny invisible holes from which the water seeps out (something I’m addicted to watching now). The system we got is called Snip N Drip, and it comes with a garden hose and multiple connectors, so it’s possible to connect bits of the soaker hose to bits of the garden hose which carries the water from the water source to the raised bed, and from one raised bed to another. This way, the water drips only where we want it to drip — in the raised beds, at the soil level, close to the roots of our veggie plants.drip-3

The remaining steps are for us to cover the soaker hoses with straw mulch, which will protect them from UV rays and keep them from deteriorating — oh, and to add timers to make the entire process automatic. Otherwise, we might easily forget to turn the water on (or off!) once we have other, hmm, pressing priorities, defeating the whole purpose. But so far, the plants seem to be pleased with the new system. The pea vines popped out their first pea pods, and we also picked and ate our first harvest of broccoli raab this week!drip-5drip

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