Drip Irrigation for a Potager

Potager gardens have many advantages, but they do present a challenge when it comes time to irrigate. Aside from the wasteful effects of sprinklers that fling water through the air, my garden beds are divided by paths so setting up a hose-end sprinkler isn’t really an option.

Individual beds divided by pathways leads to watering challenges.

Individual beds divided by pathways leads to watering challenges.

I looked into drip irrigation systems and planned two zones, the left and right sides, and further divided those into separately controlled systems for each planting bed. This allows me to water each area for different amounts of time and more or less frequently depending on the needs of the plants in each bed. The image below shows an inaccurate draft of the initial plan and was used as a guide when buying the equipment. I ordered everything online from dripworks.com. They are very helpful! The plan below was adapted to include valves for each bed.

valves for left and right zones

valves for left and right zones

draft of irrigation plan

draft of irrigation plan

I used 1/2 inch black tubing (solid like a hose) for the main runs and 1/4 inch drip line (valves embedded in tubing and sized to allow a certain amount of water out). The valves are placed in the 1/2 black tubing at control points and the 1/4 inch tubing is inserted into the 1/2 tubes as needed.

Each watering zone is controlled by a valve.

valve to control flow

valve to control flow

A punch is used to insert the 1/4 inch drip tubing into the 1/2 inch solid hose at any point. The solid hose can cross pathways (just cover it with mulch to hide it from view) and carry water to the beds.

sold hose crossing path

solid hose crossing path

1/4 inch drip tubing irrigating a bed

1/4 inch drip tubing irrigating a bed

Installation is simple and only requires a few tools: scissors to cut the tubing; a punch for inserting dripline; and little thing to insert the caps or pointy ends on the dripline.

Bed-specific watering reduces waste and leads to beautiful harvests.

Bed-specific watering reduces waste and leads to beautiful harvests.

12 Responses to “Drip Irrigation for a Potager”

  1. Joe Hanlon Says:

    Golly, it sure looks great. So well managed. I bet the veggies will be dee-lish.

  2. Katina Says:

    Good job – I know you had to have blogged about it before, but I never realized that your entire yard was your potager garden.

  3. Ellie Says:

    Hi Katina- it’s not really the whole yard. We live on a corner and this is the area at the end of the lot behind the garage. I’ll post pics of the front and side yard remodeling-in-progress soon! Spoiler alert–we got baby chicks!!!

  4. Charlie Says:

    I really appreciate the detailed information, and the photos are very helpful. I am always in search of information fro problem solving in the garden. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Central Texas Gardener Blog » Blog Archive » Why plants freeze|Greg Grant vegetables Says:

    […] her blog, Mostly Weeds, follow her step-by-step process from Day 1 to irrigation how-to, including her dual valve system […]

  6. Debbie Says:

    I just got a drip system for my flower beds. It is on a cycle of its own
    on my sprinkler system. I water the sprinkler cycles 20- to 30 minutes each. Do I put the drip system on a 20 to 30 minutes ?

    • Ellie Says:

      Hi, the timing of your drip system depends on the rate of water flow and the needs of the plants. You can check how much water comes out by placing a tuna can or other small container under ONE of the holes in the drip line and timing how long it takes to fill it an inch deep.

  7. Shauna Says:

    Where do you get the supplies for the drip irrigation system? I’ve only seen it sold in kits, which won’t fit my place and they are expensive for what they are….

  8. Jenny Says:

    It looks like you have found a nice system to run off your rain barrel. Is that a filter you have attached? I have most of my garden under drip irrigation although I have never found a system that really works without a lot of tinkering. I have a similar potager and have 1/2″ lines from the main system with 1/4″ line and drips. They get clogged with lime. I have to continually bend them to break the scale from the emitter and still find it difficult to get the water to spread. I also have a rain barrel but the pressure from it is rather low. Do you find the pressure sufficient and how many drips for each section?

    • Ellie Says:

      The drip system is hooked up to the regular city water. I do have a filter attached and so far I haven’t had any problems with the drip lines getting clogged. I have 1/4 drip line with built-in drips every 12 inches so I just cut it according to the size of the bed. I think there are drip lines that work with rain barrels but you have to raise the rain barrels (really high) to increase the flow.

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