September 10th, 2008

Drip, Drip, Drip

bio_lesliedHi All, Leslie in Las Vegas here.

I thought you would like to see how I irrigate several of my desert garden beds.

This Netafim irrigation hose has one pre-installed emitter every 12 inches inside the hose.  I place the lengths of hose about 12″ apart and I’m burying them 2″ deep.  This is the newest bed I built and soon the older beds in the garden will be changed over from individual drip emitters to this Netafim irrigation.

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With the irrigation buried in the soil the water is directed to the root zone of the plant and the soil surface stays dry . . . unless I overwater.  This sub-surface drip irrigation causes the roots to grow down into cooler soil, helpful to plants in the hot Mojave Desert.  No water is lost to evaporation and the irrigation is not exposed to the desert sun.

Raised bed gardening is much easier in the desert because I can contain my ‘good’ soil and keep it from mixing with the native dirt.  I have a soils company mix up a special blend of soil for my raised beds and they dump it in the driveway, from there we wheelbarrow it over to the beds.  With this blend of humus rich soil I only need to have it 6 inches deep over our native dirt.  The nutrients from it will wick down into the native dirt as the bed is watered and this will help to remediate the native soil below.

This bed is 13 feet x 13 feet, if I was better with math it would have been bigger.  I’ll probably have it finished tomorrow and begin planting it with my cool season veggies and my newly hybridized daylilies, (that should have been transplanted in the spring).

After this bed is planted I will have to surface water it with the hose, now and then for a couple of weeks, until the new seedling’s roots grow down to where the irrigation is buried.  Right now the new plants have shallow roots and many of their roots are near the surface of the pots . . . they have to be trained down into the new beds before I can  let the surface roots dry out.

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When the bed fills in with growth it will look similar to these beds, except there won’t be a shade structure installed in it.  It is great having a place to sit while I garden . . . another good reason for raised beds.

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