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Irrigation Time

July 1, 2011

T-tape in action in the beans

I have been thinking about water lately. Did you notice that we haven’t had much rain in June? According to Accuweather, we have had less than half of the usual rainfall for June. Despite the excessive rain for the past several months, that means it is time to irrigate.

Because of the wet spring, I didn’t take the time to set up the drip irrigation lines in the beds before I planted. When there were a few dry days, we just got the beds ready and got things in the ground. I figured I could add the irrigation lines later. The second week of June I started setting them up in earnest. I never really thought about how quickly our soil drains. We do have quite a bit of silt and clay in our soil, but we also have areas with sand. And boy, does that drain fast. When the rain stopped, the water was gone pretty quick.

Tapping into the underground water lines in the Orchard FieldThe “Orchard Field,” where the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are this year, needed a whole new set up. Drip irrigation had been in place for the orchard, but we took out the above ground portion when we took out the orchard. Last year, I watered with a sprinkler (squash and beans). Tomatoes don’t like overhead water, so I knew I needed to put in T-tape for drip irrigation. Of course, I never got around to ordering what I needed until I needed it. So, last weekend, Steven and I finally put in the new lines. I was going to have it connect to a hose, but Steven figured out how to connect it to the underground, automated system the orchard had used. Brilliant. I am done watering by hand (which takes a lot of time), the tomatoes will get all the water they need, and I can set it up to run automatically. The new “Berry-Grape Field” also needed a new set up. It, too, had the underground water in place and, as with the orchard, we had taken out the above ground portion when we took out the berries. We hooked in to the water lines and set up T-tape, just in time. I planted that bed last week and only had to water with the sprinkler once.

Future lettuce will get enough water

Unfortunately, I did notice a possible problem with getting the irrigation in late in  the main vegetable beds. The second planting of lettuce has had quite a bit of tip burn. Tip burn, I discovered, is caused by a lack of calcium in the leaves. Water carries the calcium up into the leaves, and if the water is not moving through the leaves at a level that matches the leaf growth, there won’t be enough calcium available. It is possible, the plants were not getting enough water to get the needed calcium to the leaves. The next batches will have enough water.

I still have two more areas to set up new irrigation: the new blueberry field and the blackberries. The blueberries, of course, because it is a new planting and the blackberries, because I don’t think they have been getting adequate water with the system in place. Then, I will be set for water and I will think about something else. Maybe sun and heat?

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