Where I live in New Zealand we get long hot summer days. Just yesterday it was 32deg C (91 deg F) with a very strong hot wind we call the Nor’wester. This dries out our veggie garden very quickly. To help with automating the garden watering without wasting water and making it easier to weed and harvest, I set up a lawn soaker hose system.
By using flexible soaker hose you can easily move or roll the hose up. While you weed or during harvest, you don’t have to worry about damaging the watering system in your veggie garden plus you can quickly move the soaker hose to water different areas as the plants requirements change.
What you will need:
13mm garden irrigation hose (enough to run the length of your veggie beds)
13mm ‘T’ garden irrigation joiners (one for every second veggie row)
Lawn ‘soaker’ hose (the cheap green plastic hose with small holes along its length)
Cable ties (I love these - you can do so much with them!)
Staples or small nails (optional)
First you will need to set up the garden irrigation hose along the edge of your garden bed. My garden beds are raised so I have a wooden surface to attach the hose to.
• Measure out the 13mm garden irrigation hose along the edge of the veggie garden so it is at the head or foot of your rows. Leave a small amount at one end to blank it off and a larger amount at the other end to allow for a hose fitting.
• Between every second row, cut the hose using a craft knife or large side-cutters and put a 13mm ‘T’ joiner in. The hose should push onto the join easily but if it doesn’t, use a cup of hot water to soften the hose first (dip the hose end into the hot water for a few seconds, it will become very pliable). Make sure the ‘T’ end points down the rows, not up in the air.
• Once you have connected all the ‘T’ joints, use the cable ties to secure the hose onto the fittings. I find cable ties much cheaper than the proper hose locks but the ties are usually not reusable. It’s up to you what you want to use.
• Mount the hose along the edge of your garden bed. Like I said earlier, my veggie garden beds are raised and made of wood so I simply stapled a cable tie to the wood and then put the tie around the irrigation hose to secure it into place. I put a tie around each ‘T’ because this is where any ‘pulling’ on the irrigation hose will take place.
Now we can attach the soaker hose to the garden irrigation hose and lay the hose out along our rows.
• Remove the garden hose fitting from the end of the soaker hose. Keep the fitting, we will use it later.
• Measure out the soaker hose along your garden row leaving a small amount extra (about 10cm or 2in)
• We need to blank off one end of the soaker hose (this is the far end from the irrigation hose). The soaker hose I used had wings along its length (this are to keep the hose from rolling over when in use). Carefully trim off the wings at one end about 10cm, fold the hose back onto itself about half way along the trimmed area. Fold the hose over itself again and put a cable tie around the hose to create a blanked end.
• At the other end of the soaker hose, carefully trim off the wings about 5cm. This is to allow for a better clamped seal onto the ‘T’. Now slide the soaker hose end onto the ‘T’ joint (it’s a tight fit but it does go on, try the hot water trick if you have trouble). The soaker hose will run along between your veggie rows. Make sure the small holes in the soaker hose are pointing up. Use another one of my beloved cable ties to secure the soaker hose onto the ‘T’ joint.
• Repeat this for each ‘T’ joint.
• Run the soaker hose out along between your veggie rows making sure the small holes are pointing up.
• Blank off the far end of the garden irrigation hose. I simply fold the irrigation hose over and place yet another cable tie around the hose to hold the fold in place.
• Find the garden hose fitting we removed from the end of the soaker hose (usually it’s on the ground somewhere. I always spend ages looking for it). These fittings can be either push-on or screw on, it doesn’t matter what sort it is, it will still fit onto the end of the garden irrigation hose. Use a cup of hot water to soften the end of the irrigation hose before pushing it onto the hose fitting. This makes it much easier to push it fully home. Use another cable tie if the fitting is the push-on variety.
• Now connect your garden hose to the fitting on the garden irrigation hose and test your work.
If you already have an automated garden watering system simply add the veggie garden to the system by attaching the standard irrigation hose to your existing irrigation hose.
As we all know, it is better to water in the evening. This allows time for the water to soak into the soil over night. If you water during the hot day, the sun will evaporate a large amount of the water before it gets a chance to soak into the soil and get to the roots of the plants. By watering at night plus only watering the plants themselves (not the driveway and paths) you will save a large amount of water. Buying a cheap garden watering timer will save money from your water bill so it will work out cost neutral (maybe even save money over its lifetime!).