Dec 242007

Ro-Drip drip tape A 7,000′ reel just like this has been sitting in the drive shed for a while now, waiting to be tested. Ro-Drip, from John Deere, is one brand of drip tape. I can’t speak to how it compares with other drip tape, but I have heard it highly recommended. In any case, drip irrigation has serious advantages over other methods—watering with a hose, soaker hoses, sprinklers—for any size garden. It is super-efficient, the usual figure being 70% better water use than sprinklers. It also operates at low pressure, from under 10psi to around 20 max, so it can even be gravity fed from a raised container, a barrel or something much larger. It can be used on the surface, or buried.

There are downsides for the tiny farm, which don’t really apply to the smaller home garden. First of all, once you set it down (surface use is the usual way for veggies), it’s always there, an obstacle to weeding depending on the crop. And, on even one acre, you’re putting down a LOT of it, along with all the barbed connectors and header hoses that that entails. And then, you need a slow and steady water source, as putting down a one-inch rain equivalent takes several hours: if you’re on a remote pond that’s on the same level as the garden (no gravity) and using a gas pump, it can be a puzzle to feed low pressure water over a long period. These are my concerns, and they’ve held me back from using it more, but really, it IS the way to go! Drip tape is a standard in greenhouses and on veggie farms, and it’s probably way underused in home veggie gardens, where a drip tape kit, with tape and couplers, can be had for $30-40US and would do wonders for water conservation and overall ease of irrigation… I’m breaking mine out next season.