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Making a drip irrigation system for my allotment patch - any advice?

Posts: 55
Location: West London, UK
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Evening all,

I know considering the weather that this question may seem a little miss placed but I want to get ahead this year before the mad planting rush and I was thinking of making a drip irrigation system firstly for my polytunnel.

If this is successful I will then make one for the whole plot if that is possible and I was just wondering if anyone had done this before and if they could give me a few hints/tips.

Is it as simple as putting 'a few' small holes in a hose pipe connected to a big water barrel with a tap?

I am currently searching to see if I can get some materials for this on freecycle.

My plot has a slope of around 15-30 degrees as a guestimate I reckon. There is also water available several plots away but if I can utilise the rainwater from my polytunnel to fill the barrel that would be top!

Thanks for your help,

Posts: 337
Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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I have one rain barrel whose job it is to water some plants below a spruce. When it rains the barrel starts to overflow in short time, but when the rain stops the barrel continues to feed through a soaker hose for about 5 days or so. It won't water quickly, but once it has gotten ahead of the game the soil stays moist.

If you can get the overflow guided through the hoop house that would be ideal.
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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A manufactured drip system has pressure regulating emitters. That means that no how much pressure is in the pipe, it only drips at, for example, a gallon per hour. The holey hose system will work, but that issues are complicated.

1. The pressure driving the system will decrease from when the barrel is full to when the barrel is nearing empty (a reduction in hydraulic "head")
2. If the holes are too large, more water will come out of the early holes, releaving pressue, reducing the rate on the later holes.
3. Alternately, if you holes are really small, the whole hose will 'charge' with water, and then the holes at the bottom end (higher pressure) will release more water than the holes at the top.

So it is worth an experiment, but the challenge will be even distribution of water.

Your second pickle has to do with how much water you need. It good summer conditions you might need an inch of water a week... if you have a 100 square foot bed, this is around eight cubic feet of water, or around 64 gallons... a typical barrel is around 55 gallons. if you have a source, you can just refill your barrel, but if you are using a hose anyway, you might find it just as easy to plug it into your drip line at the beginning of a visit, and use the ability to adjust pressure to deliver more water more evenly.

An easy way to close the end of a hose is to just fold it over (kink it) and tie it with an old plastic bag twist tie, or a piece of wire.

All food for thought... just go for it and recover later...
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