Do you have a berry garden? If so, you might find yourself faced with two problems: overly dry weather and mildew on your plants. If you're having a hard time keeping your berry garden going strong, consider installing a drip irrigation system instead. Here's how it can help you save your plants (and money).
What's Drip Irrigation?
Drip irrigation is a way of bringing water to plants with minimal evaporation loss. It's used worldwide, especially in dry climates or areas where the land is uneven, for both residential gardens and farms. Because standard irrigation systems either spray from above or run through furrows cut into the ground, those methods lead to soil erosion, fertilizer leaching, and water loss. If a field is uneven or oddly shaped, ordinary irrigation systems can end up draining off the field and down the sewer line -- leaving sections of your garden underwatered.
An additional bonus of drip irrigation is that if you are growing berries or other fruits, the water goes to the roots of the plants directly. While the common powdery mildew that can affect strawberries, blueberries, grapevines, blackberry and other fruit bearing vines doesn't require moisture to thrive, it does require moisture to get started. If you're currently spraying your berry vines, you're setting them up for a mildew infestation.
Does It Really Work? Drip irrigation has been successfully used since 1959 to deliver water directly to the roots of the plants. Pioneered in Israel's Arava Valley, drip irrigation has been able to allow crops to be grown in an area that gets only 4-5 inches of rainfall per year. Drip irrigation replaced flood irrigation as the primary method of getting water to plants and boasts a 97% rate of effectiveness. By comparison, flood irrigation is only about 50% effective at getting water to plants without waste. Sprinklers are only about 75% efficient. That means between 25%-50% of the money you spend on water for your berry garden is being wasted.
If you're using sprinklers, watering cans, furrow irrigation or flood irrigation methods, a lot of your water ends up being lost because it comes on too fast, too strong. The plants aren't able to absorb the water quickly enough, and the rest ends up in the sewer -- or sitting in puddles to attract mildew and mosquitos. By comparison, drip irrigation will keep the soil around your berry plants just moist enough to be effective - without leaving extra around to bring on mildew and weeds.
Are There Drawbacks?
The initial installation costs can be high. It costs around $2.50 to $4.50 for each square foot of garden space to install a drip irrigation system. A sprinkler set is always going to be cheaper in the short term (but you end up wasting water in the long run).
You also have to maintain the system by keeping it mulched and making sure that rodents don't eat the tubing and start using your system for a water fountain. You also have to keep watch to make sure that the system is working in all areas and isn't clogged or damaged somehow. Inspecting the moisture levels of the ground around the roots of your berry bushes and vines every few days is a good idea.
If your berry garden is suffering, changing your system of getting water to the plants may be the solution. For more information, contact a professional like H2O Lawn Sprinklers.
My name is Sara Jenkins and I am the daughter of a plumber. As a young girl, I was not very impressed by what my father did for a living, but I loved spending time with him so I was thrilled each time he asked me to help with a repair around the house. What I didn't realize at the time was that my father was teaching me skills that would prove incredibly useful in my adult life. Today, thanks to him, I have completed a long list of plumbing jobs in my own home without the need to hire a contractor. This blog is my way of saying thank you to him by sharing all of the things that he has taught me about home repairs and construction.