My garden is coming along, and the weather this week is extra warm and sunny. So much so I decided to try putting my pumpkin and melon plant that I started WAY too early outside. If we get more cold weather (likely) my plan is to cover the little guys up with some surplus greenhouse fabric. I have no idea if it will work, but it seemed like a better option than just throwing them away.
Pumpkin and Melon early start
I planted these little starts in peat pots since they do not like being transplanted. I will start all of their siblings next week, 4 weeks before our last frost date: a much more appropriate date to start those seeds.
Outdoor early seeds
My seedlings that were started in mid March are all doing well. The carrots took forever to germinate, but they are now showing their leaves through the soil. Everything seems to be pretty happy, although next year I plan to start these outdoor seeds at the end of February. Since I have a hoop house I can get away with it and I’m a little worried my broccoli rabe won’t be ready to harvest by mid May, when I was planning to rotate them out for a tomato plant.
I had also planned on putting a cucumber plant on the trellis that is sitting in this bed. The plan was for my sweet peas to be done growing by mid May. Like my other seedlings, I’m doubtful these little guys will grow fast enough for this plan to work…
One thing is for sure, beautiful flowering sweet peas will trump cucumbers. I actually just threw away my little cucumber plant that was started with the pumpkin and melon. I wasn’t willing to pull out the pretty, flowering sweet peas for the sake of cucumbers.
Sorry cucumbers. You may have to wait until next year.
Drip Irrigation for Raised Garden beds
Much to my and my 6 year olds disappointment, we can’t run our irrigation system yet, but I have been working on setting it up. Last year I redid quite a bit of our irrigation for our lawn and in the process set up drip zones for our garden areas. Since I already had two separate drip zones in the back for my beds, I just had to tie into the existing lines that were already there.
Below, you can see the 1/2″ line coming up to the raised bed from the main drip line that was already in place.
There are many ways to attach drip tubing. I have used these little metal clamps, but you can also buy compression fittings that you push the tube inside of.
I first made this insane grid of 1/2″ tubing and put in 1 gph emitters every 6 inches. I quickly realized this system would develop a monsoon and had to tear it out and start again.
This small, micro line tubing with .5 gph emitters every 6″ was the solution.
You can see how I simply wove this tubing back and forth through the bed in this picture here:
I have been told that it’s best to avoid “spaghetti” tubing in drip irrigation, but I think sometimes it is the best solution. I like how easy this tubing is to move, and I felt that closer, slower flow emitters would be better for square foot gardening.
Drip Irrigation for Perennials and Flowers
For my perennials and flowers I use with the standard 1/2″ drip tube and either poke emitters along the tube where there are shrubs and perennials, or a make a “t” from the main drip line using standard 1/2″ drip tube.
Below you can see bright red emitters for my foxtail lilies.
I try to bury the line along areas that I don’t have emitters. The next picture shows a section of drip tube that is split off of the main drip line, used to water the forthcoming annuals:
I used a compression fitting the connect the drip tube, since it seems to work better. I have no idea why: trial and error told me so. Notice that my dripline is brown and the connecting 1/2″ tube is black.
Sprinkler systems and drip lines really aren’t that hard to work with. All the tubing can be connected with a rubber mallet, your hands, and maybe a little crimping tool for the metal rings (if you choose to use that type of connection). I have mostly learned how to work with our through asking copious amounts of questions and doing a lot of Google searching.
When you do it yourself don’t be afraid of making mistakes. I have made countless errors, but now I feel a lot more confident and I couldn’t have afforded to set this up if I had to rely on hiring someone.
If you can afford to hire a sprinkler professional, do it. I would. I just haven’t gotten there yet. So for now, I’ll continue to experiment with my irrigation, get some bonus exercise out of the shoveling, and I’ll have more money to buy plants since I didn’t hire it out.