One of the most important isssues of having raised beds is to have a proper watering system installed or in place, as by nature, raised beds tend to dry out a little quicker than normal backyard gardens. Due to the make-up assembly of a raised bed, the soil is aerated and loose, it heats up faster than normal and unfortunately it drains faster than normal as well, so this becomes one of the chores or tasks that we need to attend to as soon as possible, once we have begun planting. How much watering we will need to do is contingent on a number of factors and these are as follows:
- The climate we live in,
- How much rainfall we recieve,
- What we are growing,
- The soil type we are using,
- The location of our raised bed,
- Are the beds located on an open windy site,
- Do we use mulch coir,
Above are some of the reasons that will necessitiate constant irrigation on a regular basis, especially just after planting, as this time is so critical to the successful establishment of young seedlings or baby plants. We can counteract this issue in a number of ways which we will discuss here in some detail.
Manual watering of raised beds;
This old fashioned system is still in use and will be for decades to come, mainly due to the following:
a) Some people prefer to do the watering by this method. They know exactly what parts of the bed are dry and what parts need some more attention than others.
b) They may have a container or receptacle at the end of the house which collects or harvests rainwater,
c) They may have a water source near the raised garden beds,
d) They may use a liquid feed to fertilise the plants or flowers and prefer to measure-out the right application dosage in a watering can.
e) Their budget may prevent purchase of such a system
Drip feed or soaker system;
This system is a very satisfactory method of watering raised beds, it is almost maintenance free and thus saves a lot on time, labour and stress. To some people watering can become tedious and it takes the enjoyment out of gardening, especially if our raised garden beds and plants require regular irrigation. These simple irrigation systems are available to purchase at any hardware store, at any garden or nursery centre and are also available to purchase online. Installing these systems is not overly difficult, as the system comes with fitting instructions. The units usually consist of meters and meters of ordinary alkatine hose-pipe, some standard fittings like connectors, automatic clip-on joiners, splitters, T joiners, some metal attachments and so on.
In some instances the hose pipes come with pre-installed holes and these can be used as a drip feed or soaker watering system. The soaker or drip feed method is another great system, as this means we can leave it running for a few hours at a time, the water then gently soaks into the soil and it is as if the raised bed was watered naturally.
Installing this system requires a little attention to detail at first, but when implemented, it pretty much takes care of itself. Depending on how large our raised garden beds are, we will need to criss cross the whole area of the bed with piping, spaced approx 8 – 10 inches apart and this ensures consistent irrigation. Please see the images below and these will give us an understandind and good idea of what is required to install a system of this nature.
These methods are used if we have a large garden or numerous beds, which require a lot of watering on a regular basis and are semi-automated, in that we can turn on, leave for a few hours or we may have this system on a timer, in that case it runs at the predetermined times. If we have only a small holding with very little garden area and only one or two raised beds, then this method is not practicle and is largely wasteful and rather expensive to install. We see these systems on farms, sports pitches and the likes, but for a one or two raised bed gardener, they are not that suitable. There is a lot of work getting these installed and are considerably more expensive that the method which we have just discussed above.
Automatic irrigation and feeder systems;
This is considered today, to be the rolls-royce of the watering systems on the market and if we can afford same, will be money well spent and will give us a great return on our investment over time. It does two important jobs for us in the garden, in that it waters the soil and it also fertilizes the plants for us. It also carries an automatic irrigation system option, by way of a timer ( powered by batteries ) and this method will save a lot on time and effort. We can set these to automatically cut in at night or early morning time, preferrably not during the day as this is not an ideal time to be watering a garden. However the one drawback is, not every plant or vegetable will require the same amount of fertilizer feed, some may need more than otheres, so therefore, we need to work out a system of planting to suit this sysytem. The other issue we need to take into account, is the amount of rainfall we recieve or the amount of dry sunny weather, both of which will decide how much watering we will need to do. I trust this information is helpful and if you have any questions, please feel free to use the commnets box at the end of this page.
Happy gardening to all who try and succeed.
“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some,
I can think of no better form of personal involvement
in the cure of the environment than that of gardening.
A person who is growing a garden,
if they are growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world.
They are producing something to eat,
which makes them somewhat independent of the grocery business,
but they are also enlarging, for themselves,
the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.”
― Wendell Berry.