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Garden Tips

SUCCESS WITH DRIP IRRIGATION IN PLANTERS

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published – OCTOBER 31, 2014

SUCCESS WITH DRIP IRRIGATION IN PLANTERS

The gardening season has come to what seems like a rather abrupt end, especially after balmy sunny weather just a couple of weeks ago. Now it is time for gardeners like me to evaluate what went well this year and what did not.

My biggest success was with my numerous large annual flower containers. At the beginning of the season I was dreading hand watering these planters every evening all summer long. Plus, going on vacation meant hiring a plant sitter to keep the flowers alive.

Listening to Dr. Troy Peters, WSU Extension Irrigation Specialist, talk about dripline tubing for irrigating raised vegetable garden beds and seeing the same type of product advertised in DripWorks’ (dripworks.com) catalog as part of a deck-garden drip irrigation kit inspired me to try watering my containers with drip irrigation again.

I previously experienced failure when I tried to water the same large pots with single sprinkler- type drip emitters placed in the center of each pot. They worked for a while, but when the plants grew taller they blocked the sprinkler emitters’ spray. After this earlier failure, I continued to laboriously water my pots by hand every summer.

Learning about the dripline products made me anxious to give drip irrigation another try. Rather than buy an on-line kit, I was able to purchase most of the needed supplies from local irrigation supply companies.

Before I go any further let me tell you about “dripline” or “emitter” tubing. It is plastic tubing (1/4 or ½ inch diameter) that is manufactured with hole-like emitters at regular spacings along the line, such as 6, 9, 12, or 18 inches.

The irrigation engineers indicate that dripline with turbulent flow emitters is “self-flushing and clog resistant” if you have a good (at least 200 mesh) filtration system. The other great feature of this special tubing is that the pressure-compensating design allows it to deliver water evenly along the entire length of the tubing.

I selected brown 1/4 inch dripline with emitters spaced at 6-inch intervals. With help, I placed a circle of the dripline on top of the potting mix before I planted my flower transplants. The brown line blends in with the potting mix. We then used 1/4 inch barbed fittings and black 1/4 inch drip tubing to connect the pots to a ½ inch delivery line running along the ground at base of the pots. The ½ inch line was connected to a timer and pressure reducer off of our irrigation water.

I used trial and error to determine how often and how long to run the timer. Once I was able to figure that out, I didn’t have to constantly worry about watering my pots. However, I did check them frequently and adjust the timer for warmer weather through the summer.

The drip system worked well. We were able to go away for a vacation. I did not have the tedious task of watering every day. The flowers flourished. The plants and I were both happy.

Published: 10/30/2014 12:43 PM

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