Water Only The Vegetables and Save
While conserving water is on all of our minds having a vegetable garden requires a lot of water. Nothing compares to good ole rain water but it seems to me that we are not getting it like we use to... or at least I'm not in my neck of the woods. Since the rain fall is lacking I need to use my water to make sure my plants have what they need in order to produce. If you are not on well water and have to pay your bill each month like me you will quickly become a conservationist.
I've put together a simple watering system that uses soaker hoses and PVC pipes that you can get at your local hardware store or online. If been watering my garden like this since the very first year I started really gardening to put food on the table, canned in the pantry or bagged in the freezer. the cost of the project depends on the size of your garden with the greatest expense being the soaker hoses.
Before I plant anything I divide my garden up into rows of three and build a PVC manifold with a manual ball shutoff valve for each three row section. The manifold has three pipes that connect to the soaker hose which gets stretched down the rows. I then plant my vegetables right along side the soaker hose. This helps me keep a nice straight (or somewhat straight) row. Each section is then connected to a main PVC pipe that is connected to a water source.
When it's time to water I simply open one section (PVC valve) and leave the remaining closed. The water only goeas to the section open and is delivered right to the base of the plants. When it has been watered enough I manually open the next section and shut off the previous, doing this until all sections have been watered.
By putting the water right where it is needed I save a ton of water each season which helps me save a ton of dollars I would have otherwise spent on water in between the rows. This also helps controling the weeds in between rows as they don't get the water they would have if I used a sprinkler. Keep in mind that it only helps, it doesn't eliminate the weeds as for some reason weeds just grow anywhere with or without water.
I also don't glue the PVC together finding that just the tension of the pipe and couplers are enough to hold them together. It is easier to disassemble and store and allows for me to change things up as I need to each year if the amount of my garden rows change. Of course it has to be put back together each year but it snaps together fairly easy once you get the hang of it.
I also like to put a row of weed stop down and place the manifold over it. It makes mowing so much easier when you don't have to worry about moving the manifold (PVC pipes) around to cut or trim underneath them.
If you want you can get really fancy and hook this up to your sprinkler system or if you have a small garden or raised bed you could use a of water timer to completely automate your watering. I have the sprinkler wires in place but have yet to hook up a valve and timer system as I still enjoy the task of manually turning the water to the sections on and off.