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Is water running in between raised beds good?  RSS feed

 
rodrigo cardoso
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Hi! We have a source of water always running, giving, in the summer time, maybe a liter every 10 seconds when the hose is in the highest spot of the garden. If we raise the hose, used to redirect the water, to the hight of one of the raised beds, it can stop the flow. My idea is to let it run in the canals/trenches in between beds. I started doing it already. It seems to take some time until the soil becomes impermeable so the water reaches further to other beds. When it does, because of the inclination and direction of the beds, I need to close the end tip of he canals (they end in the walking path) so the water fills the canal until it moves on to the next bed. I end up with water that is "stopped" in each canal, as dead ends. The beds are around 20 to 30 centimeters high; they can be the double of that depending of the depth of the canals now becoming deeper as I shape them. They are, almost all of them, disposed in parallel, with one end in the highest part of the terrain and the other end in the middle of the terrain, where the walking path is, or from his path to the lowest part of the terrain. This disposition is a puzzle to determine the course I should choose for the water.

- Could this be bad, to have all his water always there? Damselflies and bees seem to be more abundant now?
- Is there a better technique or strategy to take care of the irrigation with this free and constant flow of water?
- Any other advices or suggestions?
 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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I'm not sure I understand the topography. It sounds like your beds are actually the same height or higher than the water source, so if you put the outlet of the hose onto the bed surface, the water stops. If that is true, then even if you saturate the canal between the beds and it starts to fill, it can never reach the level of the beds because they are higher than the source.

Would it be possible to dig down and lower the beds? Raised beds are good for a rainy climate where poor drainage is a possible problem. If you are in a dry climate, raised beds can require more water than beds that are at ground level or below. If you are in a climate where your plants are dependent on irrigation, and if you are using flood irrigation, then you might find it better to have slightly recessed beds with raised lines around them. Then flood irrigation is easy. In Ladakh, we use beds at ground level and push lines of soil up around them, around 10 - 20 cm high, in rectangles about 2m square, with little canals alongside. We water with flood irrigation.

If your water is arriving very slowly, a lot of it will soak into the soil at the early location and a lot will be wasted before it reaches the farther spots.

Another immediate solution would be to dig a hole and sink a plastic tank into the ground. Let it fill, and then pull buckets up out of it and water your beds by hand. Possible for a home garden, not so possible for a large field, in which case you'd need a pump.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Your description of the topography and direction of the current beds sound like you have the beds running up and down the slope.
This will create erosion and is a really bad idea. Better would be to have the beds run parallel to the slope (like terraces) so the erosion would be nil.
The along the slope orientation will allow the water to flow from one bed to the next, down the slope and all will end up watered well.

Rebecca has given some great ideas about the best methods for utilizing flood irrigation.


Redhawk
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My garden is always thirsty. More water is a good thing. Since plant roots of many species can reach 3 meters deep and/or wide, any place i put the water it becomes accessible to at least some species of plants. If I put it between beds, then it encourages more weed growth in the watered areas, and less in my beds.

 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Wow Joseph, that's a cool idea. How far can annual vegetable roots go horizontally to reach a water source? Or which vegetable types are good at doing that?
 
rodrigo cardoso
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If your water is arriving very slowly, a lot of it will soak into the soil at the early location and a lot will be wasted before it reaches the farther spots.

Indeed Rebecca. That is exactly what is happening. This part of the garden is a triangle with ~50 meters from the base to the tip and maybe 30 meters wide in the base. The inclination, from where the hose is - the highest point - to the lowest point, goes from the tip to the base and from the left to the right. The beds are most oriented from the left to the right, with a walking path dividing them in the middle, going from the tip to the base. The water irrigates around 1/3 of the left side, but it can irrigate the whole left side and start spilling to the right side of the walking path (the lowest half of the triangle) when using a pump and emptying the deposit/tank that we use to feed the house. I hope that doing this everyday, or keeping a small but enough input of water to keep the whole left side canals with water in the bottom, hopping they will become impermeable in time.

- Do you think they will end up becoming impermeable and so take more water to the rest of the garden before it disappears absorbed by the soil?
-Could this permanence of water in the canals be bad in any way?

Raised beds are good for a rainy climate where poor drainage is a possible problem.

That's a big problem in winter. We even have a large deep trench along side the terrain to drive away the water that comes from the slope. It can become muddy during many days. I hope these canals trying to solve irrigation during Summer will help solving excess water during winter.

Grateful for all the inputs! What a rich support : )
 
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