Drip, Drip, Drip – Efficient Watering for Veggie Gardens

Are you looking for a good way to water your veggie garden?  Think drip.  Drip irrigation has many advantages over overhead watering, including less evaporation loss, fewer foliar diseases and fewer weeds.  Let’s look at each one.

Evaporation loss – water applied through a drip system covers only about a fourth of the soil surface, and thus is much less exposed to the sun and atmospheric pull.  It’s helpful to think of the drip applied water as a person using a straw to extract water from a glass instead of placing their entire mouth over the top of the glass.  There is just much less surface area to lose water from with a drip system.  And, because the applied water is not airborne, there’s much less loss due to wind movement as well.

Fewer Foliar Diseases – water that remains on leaf surfaces for extended periods of time encourages foliar diseases like early blight of tomato and anthracnose of peppers.  Since only the soil is wetted during a drip irrigation event, the leaves remain dry and fewer disease infections occur.

Fewer Weeds – much like evaporation loss, where there is a much smaller surface area affected by the irrigation system, weeds are left to fend for themselves to germinate, relying only on Mother Nature for water.  While some weeds like purslane and spurge can do quite well on their own, others can’t sustain themselves and can be easily taken out with a simple hoeing of the soil.

Overall, a small investment in a drip system will pay off, considering these advantages over traditional overhead watering systems.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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