Since I picked up gardening as a hobby, I have installed in June a drip irrigation system on my vegetable beds and tomato container plants. The drip irrigation system is essential if you don’t want to be tied down to water your plants daily, turning a good hobby into a chore. For me, it was prompted by a one and a half week of business travel that resulted in the death of nearly half of my plants. (My delegated helper, my daughter, got sick during the time and neglected to water my plants half way during my drip.)
I read this book hoping I could pick up some nuggets from the author’s experience. And I surely did. The author provided a more scientific approach to how to scale the system and which how many of emitters to use for each branch and for what types of plants or trees. had some insights on the plumbing of the drip irrigation system like the use of anti-siphon devices and filter.
When I reached the end of the book, I wondered if I read the book before I installed the system, I would still continue with the project. Maybe not, as the book seems to make it sound daunting. Unfortunately, the drip irrigation system in retrospect is not a simple DIY project, nor a complicated project that would require a contractor. It’s in between, which makes it a perennial procrastinated project. But the benefit is really worth the effort; I encourage to read the book before you take on installing your own drip irrigation system.
A quick summary:
1. Chapter 1: Why drip irrigation works. The author made a compelling argument that most of aerobic activities take place on the top few inches of soil and is where the nutrients are fed into the plants and where the drip irrigation would do the most good. Also frequent, shallow watering is best, which drip irrigation does the most good.
2. Basic Drip Irrigation Stuff: This goes into the basic structures and elements of a drip irrigation system: anti-siphon, filter , pressure regulator, and emitters (nice explanation of how emitters are made of long tortuous path or complex maze), holders, goof plugs, and etc.
3. Your First Drip Irrigation Project: This goes into how to put the system together step by step.
4. When and How Long to Irrigate: The author presented the scientific/mathematics background on how much water to irrigate, based on ET (Evapotranspiration) rate of your specific area. This took me a while to understand but seems to make sense. But if you’re just starting out, this could be overwhelming. For me, I just adjust the water volume by trials and errors until you’re not drowning the plants nor dehydrating your plants.
5. Hiding and expanding your drip system: If your irrigation system becomes too unsightly for you, you may follow the advises here to hide them.
6. Drip Irrigation for Containers: The author offers some idea to route the tubes through the bottom drainage holes of the container pots or to the top of the pot. Use of mister emitter may be necessary for certain plants.
7. Drip Irrigation for trees and shrubs: Other than routing the drip tubes around the tree on the drip line circle and beyond, the amount of water is critical.
8. Drip Irrigation for Vegetable beds: The use of U branches along the bed with 12″-spaced emitters and cutting an opening for the feeding tub to come in the center are a good suggestion. The author offers another suggestion for a raised without the wood box. Also the use of spiral-pattern distribution is another good idea.
9. Grey Water and Drip: The author discusses the pros and cons of using grey water (waste water from kitchen or urinals) to feed the irrigation system. The use of a special surge tank, filter and special plumbing needed to catch the grey water make it less than practical. I wouldn’t try it. But if you must use the grey water, this chapter serves as a good starting point. More researches are needed.
10. Drip Irrigation with Cistern and Tanks (from raindrops to drip drops): A special tank and down spouts with diverters are needed to catch the raindrops. It’s a good idea if your local weather warrants it with consistent rainfalls. In California where I live, this is not practical.
11. Controlling your drip irrigation: There is some discussion about the use of electronic timer. The author is not really crazy about electronic gadgetry besides the timer information here may be a bit outdated due to rapid advances of electronics nowadays.
12. Keep Your Drip Together: This chapter is about maintaining your drip system. The author recommends flushing of the drip irrigation system every season. This is something new to me but makes senses due to mineral accumulation.