Gardening Articles and Videos

Taylorsville Garden, How to help us water our largest garden, every Saturday
6/18/2011 | Sheryl McGlochlin

Article image: Taylorsville Garden, How to help us water our largest garden, every Saturday

NOTE from Sheryl:  A big huge thank you to Brenna for writing this up and getting this garden off and running when it comes to watering. Kirsi has been help her as well.  Irrigating a garden is very different than using a drip line system. Please help us with this if possible.  Here's how:


Irrigating Taylorsville Garden isn't hard...

, it's just time consuming. The biggest challenge is that there is not enough water pressure to make it through all the furrows on it's own so it needs babysitting. The water needs to sit in the furrows for at least an hour so it will soak to the plants adaquately. Here is what I've found (so far) the be the most efficient way.

Don't try to water the whole garden at once, do it in small sections. You can maximize the soak time and minimize effort by timesharing, and that's what I've outlined below.

I'm going to call the "bridges" a section unless I say otherwise. The "bridges" is where the irrigation pipe connects the different areas of the main watering canal on the south side. It will make sense when you see it, it's a mound with dirt and one or two very large pipes (apx 4") The only work that needs to be done is on the south side by the fence and where the water is fed from.

You will be working west to east--and don't worry if it looks like a lot of water or if there's a ton going into the pasture. This is what we want. It took me about 2.5-3 hours instead of almost 8 hours from the first watering! YIKES!

1) With a shovel or a hoe, open all of the dirt dams in each of the furrows-it doesn't have to be deep, and set aside the dirt so you can reuse it later. No worries if the water has already been turned on. Also remove any cinder blocks or plastic caps that might be on the pipes.
2) Cap off the last two sections. I found two plastic end caps, I left them at the bridges of the last two sections. Cap the pipes on the west side, one on the last section--the second one on the north most pipe. -NOTE: they do not fit on securely, that's OK, it will help slow the water from the  "upstream" and help you control the water getting into the higher sections of the garden easier.
3) Put a cinder block, with the solid side facing west to slow the water to the open pipe. (it will be on a 90 degree angle to the irrigation ditch) - This is on the second to last section, the one that has only one pipe covered with a cap from step 2.
4) Do something for an hour. After that hour is up, check to see how many of the rows got water all the way to the end of the furrow. My experience is it goes to about the tomato plants. Make a mental note of that.
5) Walk up and down the rows of peas and make sure they have gotten saturated all the way to the fence line. Once they are saturated, you can slowly start blocking off rows. Block only one furrow at a time, making a big dirt mound (reuse the dirt as much as possible from step 1). Take 5-10 minutes between blocking off furrows. The time doesn't have to be exact.
6) After you have blocked off all of the furrows to the first bridge, check the last watered row. If water is not making it into the row to the east of it, use a cinder block with the flat side to slow/direct the flow into the furrow. I found it easiest to put the cinder block on a 45 degree angle AFTER the furrow you are trying to water. Place 2 or three cinder blocks the same way on the next few rows It's OK if east most ones are not getting any water, it will increase as the pressure increases from blocking off the furrows.
7) Just watch to make sure the water is making it to the ends of the first row. If they are not, add or remove cinder blocks as necessary. Remember that adding is going to decrease the pressure to the east furrows but will increase the flow to the ones that are not getting watered to the end. 
8) After the water has made it to the end of the last row in the section, start blocking off the furrows with mounds of dirt about 5-10 minutes apart.
9) Repeat steps 6-8 until you get about half way between sections--the section you blocked off with a cap and cinder block (2nd to last one on step 3)
10) Remove the Cinder block only from the 2nd section, leave the caps that you placed previously. Make sure water is getting to the end of the row following the capped section-you may need to use cinder blocks to direct the flow.
11) Slowly block all furrows up to this point with dirt. These ones have a lot of pressure so it might overflow the dirt dam, that's OK. Once you get to the bridge with two pipes and one cap, remove the all remaining caps.
12) This part gets easier, and you're almost done. Put three cinder blocks out on a 45 degree angle, evenly spaced. As the water gets to the end of the first row you blocked off with the cinder block, give it about 5-10 minutes and remove the first block.
13) Block off all of the furrows up to the half way point of the second to last section with mounds of dirt. (You should have about 6 open furrows at this point)
14) Just watch and make sure the water is making it to the end of the remaining furrows, by now they should be. Slowly remove remaining cinder blocks, giving at least 5 minutes for the water to make it to the end. Once all the blocks are removed, you are done. 

If the homeowner is leaving the water on for another hour or so, it is fine. By this point the whole garden should be very saturated, but the extra water will be appreciated by the melons that are furthest east since they are somewhat far from the furrow.