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Need irrigation advice for a one acre garden

 
Zach Nelson
Posts: 3
Location: Omaha, NE (Zone 5)
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So I just fell upon just over an acre of land that I am planning on turning into a highly intensive production vegetable/herb garden. And I started thinking about how best to irrigate this area. I plan on building a twine t-trellis system to trellis up my tomatoes, peppers, beans etc. and considered running drip line for that area of the garden, but didn't know if it was practical for the amount of space I have.

I also didn't know if it would be necessary to run sprinklers throughout the main area of the garden, or if i could get away with just running a few different hoses.

I can supply pictures of the area and drawn plans for the setup, or any details you need to know.

Thanks!
 
Justin Deri
Posts: 79
Location: North Yarmouth, ME
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Zach,
What's the soil and climate like? For the tomatoes and peppers, I'd think drip would be good. Overhead (i.e. sprinklers) can splash disease up from the soil on to the plants. Also, you'll be watering the weeds with a sprinkler. On the other hand, the sprinklers can be quite useful too.

Do you plan to use mulch? Plastic, straw, compost? Those will help hold moisture.

If you're going to be on the acre for more than a couple of seasons, I'd recommend running/burying some pipe with points that you can tap off of. I've tried the whole dragging a pipe or hose around and it really sucks.

Do you want recommendations on equipment? Speaking of which, where will you get water from? Well? Pond? Municipal?
 
Zach Nelson
Posts: 3
Location: Omaha, NE (Zone 5)
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Hey Justin,

The soil here can be slightly heavy in clay in certain spots, but overall its a pretty balanced soil for never having been cared for. All the drainage tests i've done have come back very positive. As for the climate I live in zone 5, so we get some decently hot and humid summers. Do you have much experience with running drip lines? Especially on a slightly larger scale then your average home gardener? We're growing quite a lot of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and beans and all of which i've been wanting to grow vertically if I can.

And yeah I started a couple compost piles last year so they might be ready for this season, I get horse manure from the guy down the road. But ive been bouncing back and forth whether I should cut the sod out leaving the grass in place for the aisles or if i should go with mulch. Hmmm, so many possibilities...

Any recommendations on equipment would be great though, especially in reguards to the drip irrigation. And we get our water from a well.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I'd start smallish and work outwards.
For me, specifics like irrigation choices are waaay down the list...
An acre is a really large area to garden intensively, but if I was to irrigate a commercial situation, soaker hose would be my choice, after making the most of organic matter's water-holding capacity, and mulching the crap ouutta things!
My number 1 advice would be: don't underestimate the value of organic matter, and the need to keep topping it up. Forever.
 
Zach Nelson
Posts: 3
Location: Omaha, NE (Zone 5)
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Thanks Leila,

Yeah I think i'm leaning more towards just having a couple hose hookups scattered about, but using a drip line for the trellised crops. Is there any reason you recommend soaker hoses over drip lines?

Oh ya we have no lack of organic matter around here Plus I also bought a few pounds of different green manures.

And speaking of mulch and organic matter, we have like 5 or 6 pine tree's that are going to be coming down this summer. Does anyone know if pine makes for a decent mulch?
Some people say it adds acidity to the soil and some people say that's an old wives tale. But does anyone have any substantial proof one way or the other?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I'd use the pine. The turpines may slow rotting a bit, but nothing dramatic.
It makes the garden smell all festive and christmassy too
Every 'edu' site I've looked at says the acid thing's a myth. here's one
It always reminds me of the old "if you use wood mulch, it'll suck all the nitrogen right out!"
I would avoid putting wood mulch on areas they'll be dug, as I think high-carbon mulches dug into the soil can cause quite a bit of nitrogen-tie up until the soil critters get it all back in balance.
I've never used drip irrigation so I can't speak for or against it, but for me, a big positive with soaker hoses is that they're basically just one big 'leak', so can't get blocked.
I've heard people have nightmares with blocked emitters and so on.
Not something I'm familiar with, but maybe worth considering in your climate: because water can't pool/expand in a soaker hose, apparently many people leave them out all winter in cold climates with no problems.
 
Justin Deri
Posts: 79
Location: North Yarmouth, ME
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Zach,
Sorry I didn't reply a little earlier. Anyhow, for more than just a small garden bed, I'd recommend drip tape for your scale. Also, I'd only irrigate some things like pepper, tomatoes and cucurbits (i.e. zukes/cukes and squashes.) Personally, I wouldn't irrigate the beans; however, things really will depend on your local environment. I totally agree with Leila on the organic matter. And mulch of any sort will be a huge help...just be careful what actually gets incorporated in to the soil at the end of the season. That's a different topic...

On my farm, though I'm trying to get away from irrigation by using mulch, I use T-Tape drop tape. It works well, is relatively cheap and a fairly flexible system. In a good year, I can reuse a lot of the actual drip lines. It's mostly a matter of getting the rolled up for the winter. The whole drip tape is an emitter so there isn't really a clogging issue. It will be a helluva lot cheaper than soaker hose for that scale. I know a lot of people like www.dripworks.com. I use www.rainfloirrigation.com. RainFlo sells a "Garden Drip Irrigation Kit". On their website, they have a link to a pdf version of their catalog. The garden kit is listed on page 11. That catalog has a lot of good information, so it's worth a read.

Also, I do use some Senninger mini-Wobblers here. They are great for mini overhead irrigation, but will require more water per minute than a low pressure drip system. I wouldn't use overhead irrigation on tomatoes though. Things like early blight and verticillium wilt are both soil-borne diseases that splash up from rain. Again, mulch will help there.

In the end, I'd mulch as much as you can. First crop hay can be good. In NE, straw may be available for cheap. Just be aware of the persistent pesticide issue. I don't see why pine needles would be a problem. If you can avoid tilling your mulch in to the soil, that'll help no matter what you use.

Sorry my message is all over the place. I still need my coffee...

-Justin
 
david falkowski
Posts: 5
Location: LI NY
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On my farm we use t-tape. It’s cheap, fast, easy to set up, easy to repair and I get multiple seasons out of it. http://www.dripdepot.com/1568

Often I will only use one piece of t-tape and move it across my beds as irrigation is needed.

If you have other farmers in your area who use it, you might be able to scavenge sections of it for free.

I have been using all the ends, connectors ECT for 5 seasons now. http://www.dripdepot.com/drip-irrigation-tape-fittings

make sure to use a http://www.dripdepot.com/1025 in line before water/fert gets to drip lines.

Also with t-tape you will also need a pressure reducer so you dont blow the line. http://www.dripdepot.com/drip-irrigation-pressure-regulators

Hope this helps.

Be well, Dave

 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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i would love to try trenching with a backhoe, and dropping an entire pine down in it. throw in a bunch of charcoal (not ash), some rock fertilizer,some extra nitrogen, and some manure, and lay a drip line down in there for deep watering in summer. Once the roots get down to it, you wouldn't surface water at all, and that means no weeding !
Once it started sinking, you could shovel snow into it at the end of winter, and totally charge it up for summer.


as for the sod, do you have tillering grasses? they will invade beds, and you will be on neverending weeding cycle.

bug pests? if you have a good balance, and lots of hunter bugs, i would leave the sod. if lots of pests, i would cut and flip it, and plant clover and thyme. Those bring in bees, but not many leaf bugs.
 
Linda Sefcik
Posts: 72
Location: Central Oklahoma
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When I read your post it reminded me of this guy
who has about an acre of garden
he practices the "square foot" gardening system

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6_ATF4lp4

he gives you his email to ask questions
I hope he doesn't mind, it is posted on the video
helpingugrow@gmail.com
 
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