Growing your own fresh vegetables sounds like a great idea and having fresh vegetables on your table every day is the ideal scenario. Unfortunately, there comes a large amount of care that goes along with a large garden and that work can quickly add up to more time than you originally thought. One way to substantially reduce the amount of time and physical labor you have to do to support your home garden is to equip an irrigation system. vegetable garden drip irrigations systems are my suggested route when solving a gardens h2o delivery processes. Drip systems save water, are quick to install, and greatly reduce the amount of attention your garden will require.
Installing a drip irrigation system is actually quite easy once you get into the flow of things. I must warn you, however, the first few connections can be a bit frustrating to get the hang of things. while not necessary I strongly suggest using a source of boiling water to dip the plastic tube ends into before trying to connect each splitter and dripper. The hot water softens the plastic and allows the connections to come together much easier. I would also suggest wearing a pair of rubberized gloves as they will allow you to grip the piping more securely especially when they are wet.
Once you’ve got some water heating up and a pair of gloves its time to plan out your system. I personally like to create one main water line that has the individual mister or drip lines branching off of the main line to each plant location. I would suggest actually laying out your plan with the irrigation line in the garden before you begin cutting line to finalize your plan. I’ve found that this method leads to less mistakes in planning and therefore less waste or need for extra line.
Once your layout is in place its time to use a simple three step process to finish your system.
- Cut your lines to length.
- Heat the line with hot water.
- Twist/Push the connection into the line.
Thats all there is to installing your own custom drip irrigation system. Now don’t get me wrong you need to repeat this three step process for every connection, split, or line-end of your system. This means for a larger system dozens of connections. My warning would be to not try to complete a larger system in a rush as you may quickly burn out your ambition.
Once you have your line system installed you need to decide how you plan on feeding this line system. There exist two main variants on how to feed your system: Gravity fed or Mechanically fed.
Gravity fed systems are exactly what they sound like; a system that uses that natural force of gravity to provide water and pressure to your irrigation system. Generally these systems are made up of a large container (reservoir) that is placed at an elevated location. The number one problem with gravity systems is not providing enough water pressure to properly run your new irrigation system. If your system lacks enough water pressure the water will not evenly distribute and the individual water heads may not function properly ie. spray heads dripping instead of spraying. There are two main properties that will effect your systems water pressure.
The two properties that you have to consider when building one of these systems are the size of the container you have available for use and the maximum distance above the irrigation system you can provide. The larger the container you can use as a reservoir the greater water pressure you can create within that container. You can also increase the elevation of that water reservoir to provide added water pressure. Most gravity fed systems will operate on lower levels of water psi they just need to be left on for longer time periods to account for the slower rate of dispersion.
While the gravity fed system does provide the lowest amount of water pressure it does provide the greatest amount of mobility and location variability. These systems can be moved to any location as they do not need electricity or an existing water system. The lack of dependance to other factors allows you to use the gravity fed system in locations that would be impossible to use mechanically fed systems. The gravity fed method is also the most eco-friendly option as it used only the earth’s natural gravitational forces.
This method of providing water to your irrigation set up is the idea method Mechanically fed systems really break into two different categories: existing water pressure systems and independant water pressure systems.
Existing Water Pressusre Systems sound alot more complicated than it actually is. This system is just connecting your home water lines to your garden irragatoion lines. Most irragation kits come with connectors to hook into an existing water spiguet or faucet. Using these systems depends on your existing home water pressure( be they well fed or piped in by local government. These systems have the least mobility and the fewest application locations due to the need to be near and existing water delivery system such as a house, well, or other water sourse.
Independent Water Pressure Systems are similar to gravity fed systems in that both will have a large container reservoir as their base for water distribution. The difference between the two is that gravity fed systems depend on naturally occurring gravitational forces where as independent mechanical systems generate their own water pressure, generally, through the use of electrical water pumps. These systems use water pumps placed into a reservoir to provide constant high pressure water delivery to your entire irrigation system. This is my preferred system in locations that electrical usage is available. Due to its dependance on an electrical source for power this is my number two method for mobility and location variability. The Independent water pressure system can be connected to a natural power generation mechanism (Solar panels, Wind/Water turbines, etc.) for added mobility and location variability.
The immediate advantages of a drip irrigation system are pretty obvious. The gardener will have to spend less time watering their plants because they all will be watered at the same time through the use of one system. The secondary benefits of these irrigation methods can be surprising.
I’m gonna start with the secondary advantage that is most important to many people today, money. Using a drip irrigation system can save you up to 70% of your daily watering quantities. This means a saving of up to 70% on your water bill, Ca-ching. Not only will you save money with this system you also save the environment.
One of the more prevalent issues that our planet has been suffering from more acutely year after year is water shortages. Using a drip watering system versus standard sprinkler watering can save a huge amount of water over time. It also eliminates all runoff issues as the water no longer pools on the surface before being absorbed. These methods also decreases the number of insect pests that are born annually. Simply, by not having water pool at the surface gardeners are reducing the number of breeding areas available to these pests and thusly decreasing the population of many “pest” insect species.
Finally, I want to revisit the first perk I mentioned saved time. This is the main perk to these systems and the real reason why i installed one into both my home indoor container garden and my outdoor raised bed garden. These irrigation systems drastically reduces the amount of attention each plant needs on a weekly or even monthly basis. Once your irrigation system is installed the most constant and time consuming job of gardening is taken care of with a glance to your water reservoir or timing mechanism.
My Top Picks
Currently I am using a mixture of products that i have accumulated over time through trial and error. These products are my top pick for a mixture of reasons including quality, versatility, and price.
Firstly, my current favorite irrigation tubing, mister, and drip watering head combination kit is by a company named Koram.
This kit comes with all you need to put in the lines for an extremely complete drip irrigation system. It uses a 1/4 inch pipe system which is perfect for misters and drip systems. This system is super affordable and a great ground layer for a larger system.
My second recommendation is complimentary to the Koram system and should only be used in a large garden. This product is more of an expansion of the Koram System and allows the use of a 1/2 inch water main piping technique.
The RainBird Drip Irrigation Kit provides the pieces necessary to vastly increase the range of your current irrigation system. While I would not use this kit solo, when coupled with the Koram System it is possible to build a truly impressive and efficient irrigation layout. Both kits provide the equipment to tap into a existing water system such as a faucet, spigot, or hose.
These two systems are my number 1 and 2 suggestions for both their variability and price. The Koram system is extremely inexpensive and when coupled with the RainBird system which is also extremely inexpensive the system plans are unlimited. These two systems are actually my number 2 & 3 pics for functionality. These two systems collectively supassed my number 1 pick because collectively they are less than half the price of my number 1 pick.
The Blumat Plant Spike Kit is the best irrigations system that I have ever seen and my third overall choice. It is a super efficient, portable, and versatile all in one system. This kit comes with a perfect ready made setup for up to 12 plants. This is the perfect gravity fed irrigation kit but that perfection comes with a price. If you can afford the Blumat system or just want to perfectly water a few select plants this is by far one of the best systems I have seen.
My fourth and final recommendation is an independent water pressure system. Stoh’s DIY Micro Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit is a complete all in one self watering system with a 30-Day Timer and USB charging capability. When connected to a large water reservoir this system requires very little monitoring.
This system can run on 4 AA batteries though I strongly suggest using the included USB charging cord. Once plugged in and connected to a watering reservoir the Stoh system can monitor and water your plants for up to 30 days. This simple to set device uses a simple 3 button interface. The left button toggles the duration that the pump will remain running once triggered. The right button toggles how much time will elapse between each watering. And finally, the center button is the emergency stop and manual override start toggle.
I personally use this system in conjunction with the Koram drip kit. The pump is efficient and reliable and when mixed with the multiple watering heads in both kits you can effectively automate the watering of any plant.
I hope that you found this helpful,
Please leave me a comment below if:
- you have any experience with any of these products
- you agree or disagree with any of my recommendations
- you know of any superior products that I should try out next
- you have any extra information you would like to share with the Apartment Growers Community
It is that time of the year to start to get the ducks (water system) in a row.
Very impressed with the comprehensive article and the detailed answers to each one. What a time saver.
My mind was opened to alternative suggestions being that my situation has changed. So, I am looking closely at the Gravity Feed. I like the portability of that system.
How long have you specialized in this?
The gravity fed systems definitely offer the greatest portability. you can literally set these systems up anywhere and, depending on how you set up your reservoir, you may only have to tend to your plants water needs once every two weeks. I have used these systems with backyard gardens for flowers and herbs as well as deep woods gardens for semi-wild ginseng. The possibilities are really quite endless.
I personally have been gardening and growing plants of all sorts since I was a small child with my family. However, in 2012 I moved to the city and really started exploring the possibilities of urban gardening and the equipment available to expedite those possibilities. In 2014 I built my first custom irrigation system for my own garden and since then I have continued to refine my process and the products I use. I’m currently building a gravity fed system for a colleague that has a 3x4x8 tower garden set up in their apartment.
If you have any other questions please feel free to ask,
I hope this helped,