We need resources about irrigation systems for vegetable gardens.

Asked June 8, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT

Hi, We want to put in an irrigation system in our vegetable gardens. Do you have any resources on which materials and designs are best? Thanks! Thane

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

The amount of water your vegetable garden needs will vary depending your soil type, stage of growth of the plants, amount of rainfall and temperature. Most vegetable gardens require about 1 to 1½ inches of moisture per week during the growing season. Water often enough to keep the moisture level fairly uniform. On medium and heavy soils, an application of about 1 inch per week should be adequate in the absence of sufficient rain. Applying an inch of water in one deep watering will encourage deeper rooting, which leads to stronger, healthier plants. Shallow, frequent watering on medium and clay soils will lead to shallow root systems and high water loss through evaporation. On light sandy soils, two or three ½-inch applications per week may be needed because water filters thru and is unavailable to the roots. Avoid overhead sprinklers. A considerable amount of water is lost to evaporation especially on hot, windy days. Watering the foliage with a sprinkler may increase disease problems. It is best to water in early morning so the leaves dry quickly. Early watering reduces the chances for disease outbreaks. Soaker hoses and drip or trickle irrigation systems wet only the soil in the root zone and can cut in half the amount of water. Soaker hoses allow water to weep out gently over the entire length of the hose. The benefit to using these hoses is that the leaves are never wet, reducing the possibility of diseases. The water goes right to the root system where it is needed and very little is lost to evaporation. Soaker hoses must be left on for a length of time to water deeply. An inch of water penetrates about six inches in a clay soil. Let your hose run for a while, then dig down with a trowel to see how deep the water went. If it is less than six inches, the hose needs to run longer.