I plant a lot of heirloom tomato plants, as you know, Gentle Reader. A lot of tomato plants. For years, even, I’ve refused to divulge how many I plant because I tend to make people shoot milk (if they are drinking milk) or soda (if they are drinking soda) or bulletproof coffee (you get the drill) out of their noses in astonishment when I tell them, because I plant so dadgum many.
Just picture it: A Person and I are conversing about tomatoes. “How many do you grow?” The Person asks, sensing that heirloom tomatoes are a bit important to me. I tell him the number, not anticipating what will happen next. I jump back as first he chokes, shoots stuff through his nose (as already indicated) then watch as his eyes grow very, very wide, and then he shakes his (proverbial) head, and after all that, he asks, in a hoarse, unbelieving voice: “Why on earth would anybody plant that many tomato plants . . . ?”
So. That’s what happens. *snif* Being a sensitive gardener, after witnessing a few of these annoying reactions, I just. stopped. tellin’. So don’t ask me. Just know that it’s more than a dozen. 🙂 <—-smug me, keeping a secret.
(And don’t try to study the Google Satellite images, Gentle Reader, to ascertain the number. I love you. But I’m not telling, and I have my ways to scramble those images. hehee)
So why do I plant so many heirloom tomatoes? The reasons are legion, dear reader, legion: I dearly love to can lots of tomatoes to make perfect meals like this one, for example, and I also like to make enough salsa that we won’t run out by Christmas (because nobody will eat “store-bought” salsa in our house), and also I just enjoy all the tastes and colors and shapes of heirloom tomatoes. I’m a tomato geek. I wear the label proudly.
So with all these lovely tomatoes that I plant every year, if you think that I have figured out a very nice watering system by now, you would be . . . utterly wrong. Every year (until this one) I’ve rolled out the soaker hoses, having to hook together a (undisclosed) number of them, end to end, to snake through my tomato patch. You know the hoses, right? They are black, and kind of spongy in feel, and they don’t cost much, and they have a lifetime guarantee (a lifetime!! That’s a very good guarantee, don’t you agree?) so you just can’t lose, until one splits (the very first season) and thus your entire watering system–snaked through a multitude (don’t ask how many) of tomato cages (which you can learn how to make, right here) and so you spend every spare moment for the rest of the summer, watering all those tomato plants by hand, because (God forbid!) you don’t want those beautiful tomato plants, and thus your tomato dreams, to all die. You’ve got too much invested, by this time, in time and money and your heart, for pete’s sake. The children are lined up with plates full of tortilla chips, awaiting your fabulous salsa! Your husband is frying bacon at the stove, dreaming of excellent BLTs! Much is at stake!
Anyway. This summer, everything’s different, (cymbal crash!) at least in the watering-the-monstrous-tomato-patch arena.
Everybody is smugger. At least, I am. 🙂
I am smiling all over because of this betterness and easierness and fasterness and even the smuggerness. I’m not a rocket scientist (far from it, but I’m related to a few) but I feel particularly proud of it when I actually do something this smart. So, Gentle Reader, have I teased you enough now? You’re so good to keep reading. I’m playing with you.
Okay, okay, stop tickling–Uncle, Uncle, I’ll tell you!
I set up a drip watering system. And I love it. Every day when I go out to my garden, I smile (warmly) at my drip watering system. If it weren’t pretty unhandy to do so, I’d hug it, that’s how fond of it I am, even though we’ve only known each other for a few weeks.
I ordered a drip watering system actually, last year, but when I received the box full of tubes and connecters and goof plugs (what the heck–?) and so forth, I was in the flush of gardening season and really had no patience or time (I thought) to figure it all out. I know. That’s pretty pitiful, isn’t it? So early this spring, I took a little road trip to visit with my friend Jamie (you already have met her: she’s an accomplished market gardener, wedding flower grower and designer–basically I’m in awe of her and her talents–and she gave me the infused honey in my recent giveaway) because Jamie uses drip tape watering systems all over her place, as if she were a rocket scientist at this gardening thing. Oh, wait. She is.
And Jamie gave me a very quick and very patient tutorial to the wonders of drip tape watering. Turns out, it’s actually easy. And fun, really!
Here’s the scoop: there are many, many ways to set up a drip tape watering system, but for the home gardener (those are the key words) it is a very simple set up. You need only a few components. I can deal with a few components, can’t you?
To set up your own drip tape system, you need the following:
- drip tape
- a header line
- valves to connect the drip tape to the header line
- staples to hold the tape and line in place
- a pressure regulator and filter
- a short piece of hose to connect the pressure regulator to the hydrant
The drip tapes that Jamie uses (and now–I use) are laid out in the garden beds, according to what is planted in them. I plant most of my garden in 4′ beds. A 4′ bed needs 3 to 4 tapes. The water will spread out up to 2 feet in diameter from the tapes. Cool, huh?
My friend Jamie stopped what she was doing one afternoon to show me how she puts together her watering system. And guess what? The nice folks at DripWorks (where I bought my drip tape system) were kind enough to provide an awesome package for a giveaway! BUT . . . we’ll get to that later. Here are the photos, because I think it’s much easier to understand this with plenty of visuals. Don’t you?
First, the drip tapes are laid out down the length of the beds to be watered. Drip tape comes on a giant roll, and you cut it to fit your garden beds. The tapes are anchored with long staples, which come with most systems. You can buy extras separately, too, natch’.
The ends of each drip tape are folded over and secured with bands that come with a kit, or (here’s a little tip from Jamie) a short piece of used drip tape!
These little plants are lucky. They’ll be going into one of these tidy beds and will be watered neatly and thoroughly with drip tape. They have an awesome chance at making it to a fruitful old age, at Jamie and Norm’s farm.
A valve is fastened to the end of each drip tape, like this. You can turn on and off the water down each tape with these valves, giving you control over which rows (or beds) get water each day, and which ones don’t.
Next, you need a header line, which is a sturdy tube which will be connected to your hydrant. You see here the three components: the header line, then the valve/connecter, last the drip tape. Easy so far, eh?
Here Jamie punches a hole in the header line, and fits the valve into it, connecting the drip tape to the header.
Ta-daa! Here’s what the lines of drip tape look like, connecting to the header (at the bottom of the photo) with the valves. You can also see a staple holding down the header line so it doesn’t go scooting out of place when your dogs go chasing through your garden. *sigh*
We’re almost finished. Are you still with me? Good. Now, because drip tape uses such low pressure water, you’ll need to attach a pressure regulator (and a filter, if you have any sand or sediment in your water, which you probably do). A pressure regulator will reduce the pressure of your water line down to an appropriate working pressure for the drip tape. Without it, your system won’t work properly. Without it, your beautiful drip tapes could burst and you’d be back where you started with . . . watering your tomato plants by hand, with a leaky hose. 🙁
The pressure regulator and filter are hooked up to a short section of hose, which then is attached to your hydrant. Because my friends Jamie and Norm are
crazy avid gardeners with many many beds of beautiful things growing at any one time, they use this four-way thingy, so they can regulate four hoses at once. I dearly want one of these now, don’t you? It’s so . . . so . . . shiny and official-looking, somehow. Perhaps if I invest in one of these four-way hose thingies, my gardens will look like Jamie’s gardens? Whaddya think?
Drip irrigation, with its flexible features and low-pressure emission, deposits water only where it’s needed, preventing it from being wasted and saving you money in the process! Saving water is good! Saving money is good, too! Rather than casting a wide spray or steady stream of water over a large area, drip irrigation dribbles out tiny quantities of water to provide steady soaking in specific places. You are in control, Gentle Reader, and control (as they say) is good. Especially in a garden situation.
So now that you’ve read every word of this post, you are interested and perhaps, even, enthralled with this idea of setting up a drip irrigation system for your garden, right? I hope I’ve taken the mystery and the rocket-science-part out of drip irrigation. Because I think if you’re like me, my busy Gentle Reader, perhaps (please tell me I’m not the only one) putting in a too-big of a garden to care for (cough) with the hours you have available in your day, you could probably use a system like this.
Now here’s the cool news that I hinted at earlier. Dripworks, a great company that puts out an awesome catalog of great-quality drip irrigation supplies have given me a drip irrigation kit to give away to one of my Gentle Readers. Check out the giveaway below, and enter as often as you can!
Hey! I’m sharing this post with the marvelous folks at at The Prairie Homestead. Join me, won’t you?
- Visiting Mary and Elna, and their flowers, too
- Spring lettuce salad with honey dressing, and a winner!