Slowly coming along

Just gotta set the drip irrigation up.
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  • Drip irrigation -- indeed all low flow irrigation -- diffuses & seeps through the soil. It is also ruled by gravity. Putting tubing in the soil itself will surely occlude the outlets or at least limit spread.

    But I'm absolutely with Christa: mulch like mad, then consider irrigation. The fact is many people who install drip irrigation systems give up on them -- as I did -- because they are such a hassle to manage.OK for perennials or lawns because everything is so static. But growing annuals across several beds is  very dynamic  gardening.

    A well mulched garden with a high organic carbon (SOC) content in the soil requires less water than you may think.

    Of course, drip irrigation systems under mulch are sure to be discouraging of weed spread  and be supportive of leaf fragile plants like tomatoes and some squashes. But I deal with that by hand hosing only at their roots.  And really, despite overhead watering once per week or so -- I don't have much in the way of fungal problems.

    FYI: While places like Bunnings have systems for drip irrigation, I've found them a bit cheap and nasty. When we looked at our options for the plantation -- we got a great overview of possibilities by spending time at Total Eden/Nutrien Water in Brendale.

    As well as access to a bore we have 2 IBCs for water reserves and a cute portable petrol pump.

    We went mulch muchly and it has worked extremely well. We have so much mulch now, we will need to get a Dingo  digger in to help us spread it. Getting a good quality hose is well worth the outlay and I like the tag team option with Wobble Tee Sprinklers. Cheap enough too.

    'Kink free' quality  hoses are expensive but they make life so much easier. Lesson learnt: spend to buy the best hose you can afford.

    If your land falls away, I'd consider digging a  shallow dam and use a pump to irrigate with. Bores are only worth considering if your neighbours have one (Ie: they are actually down there!) -- and aquifers may run every which way, but they are so higglety pigglety and can be at many different depths. On a sand spit -- like our great sand islands, aquifers are the major ecological feature that drives the Wallam  flora's existence.  Here at home, they've 5 metres down. At our plantation site , they are roughly 1.5 metres below the surface. Many farms nearby, simply scrape out ponds or lagoons-- as the terrain is so flat.

  • Sid, Have you thought of looking for a ground water supply, maybe you can sink a well.  As Dave said, vetiver is good for pulling up water, but what if there is no water aquifers around. 

    If there is no water around, then I would mulch, mulch, mulch till the cows come home.  Then if that doesn't work then put in water supply such as pipes sprinklers.  Some other plants are good for pulling up water as well. 

    Put in pioneer or nurse plants and see how they go. You can always chop and drop. 

  • Actually judt thinking on what you said about the drippies going below the bulch layer Dave - wouldn't they logically be better below that even? Or am I missing something important? I was thinking put it at ground level and shove my organic matter compost soil mix on top then mulch...

  • I made my own ollas from terracotta pots (just search here on BLF for my DIY)  -- and still use a variation in my milkcrate garden. Hypothetically you may need to top them up every three days in Summer. -- and you'd need one every 90 cm. It made sense in a garden of sand.

    I think commercially made ollas are far too expensive.

    Another variation is to dig trenches or holes -- fill them with mulch and scraps -- then hose those liberally every now and then. Same principles as the olla, albeit slower.

    Then there is the Vetiver system I use -- whereby you rely on the grass' deep roots to draw up moisture from below while cutting the Vetiver stems for mulch.

    But from my POV -- and my experience -- I prefer not to so much irrigate -- but mulch, mulch, mulch. Here in SEQ -- outside of drought times -- the cooler months are the dry challenges. But even there, there's dew which a microclimate will harness for you. There's also shade.

    Shade not only reduces evaporation but enables you to work in the garden on hot days. I don't believe in 'perennial' shade as in the Permie food forest template-- but you sure can tweak the situation to cool the beds by using structures and annual vines.

    Just think  Three Sisters -- so much wisdom there.

  • There are a LOT of horses for courses with those irrigation systems.  If we have a canning party, I can show you some I use: sprays, spiny things, drippers, variable drippers.  Once you know what works well for what, it makes life easier.  

  • @Andrew - yeah I had considered doing that and just popping some attachments in to feed a heap of ollas - I've been using the property's irrigation set up by the prior owners (polypipe and above ground spinny sprinklers) and I can't stand the spinny sprinklers, I plant close enough that they're blocked by leaves half the time! Plus this front area gets a LOT of sun so I'm strongly leaning to either something gradual or below surface. 

    It's almost a shame I'm dedicated to in ground planting this time round, it would be intriguing to try a large wicking bed set up but prohibitively expensive to achieve the volume of soil I'd need here.

  • One of the easy ways is to use 19mm polypipe. Great range of fittings and easy DIY. Make it so you can just plug the end of the hose in when you want. Much cheaper option than using real plumbing. All of my irrigation runs from either/both tank and town water.
  • @ Andrew - yep, trying to reuse where I can, though they were a massive pain to move

    @Dave - this section is actually quite flat, but I had been tossing up alternate watering methods, including small Ollas. I had considered larger beds but I don't want to be doing much leaning over them where possible. I might be young but my back knows what it doesn't enjoy. 

    I've never looked into anything like it but I was actually considering looking into having pipes laid and a tap installed at the centre of the design - who knows.

  • Looking good.  Looks like you used recycled bricks too.  Good one. 

  • I thought that was the last thing you did? Like under the mulch layer.

    Also, if planning on using drip irrigation, wouldn't fewer but larger beds be better in order to ensure easier coverage and less curvature in the hose line? When you cross a path, for instance, you'll lose pressure. 

    I was a Leaky Hose guy for  a time, but found the coverage unpredictable and unreliable.Unless you actually test the beds with your finger or use a moisture meter  I found that confidence wasn't assured.

    I also note that they work better -- ie: more reliably -- on a flat rather than sloping site because they are gravity reliant.

    We use a simple moisture meter as a guide at the plantation -- and, at home, I top up the big weekly wetting (in the dry months)  with as-required hand watering.

    But not everyone loves hand watering as I do. It's quality time in the garden where I check out and realte to every plant.

    I'm into this issue at the moment, so I apologise for intervening. But I found this video more or less spot on:

    Since I began here with  (more or less) beach sand, irrigating the garden beds was a major headache as the water just seeped through regardless of which system I experimented with. I gave up on drip irrigation because the longer was the hose line, the less water made it to its end.

    FYI, the same channel offers this inspiring video as well: Kenyans are awesome gardeners.

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