The much-delayed drip irrigation is finally installed, at least for the main portion of the raised beds. I wanted to start there, as proof of concept; I don't intend to install irrigation for the wide rows until after I'm done digging around in there (so, probably May).
I used the Fedco garden irrigation starter kit. Setting up three pairs of 4x6 raised beds only took a small portion of the provided drip tape and tubing. I was concerned about uneven irrigation, because there's a slight slope to the garden, but everything seems to be dripping at full force.
Earlier, when planting the raised beds, I marked the future locations of the drip tape so I knew where not to plant.
Notes and pictures behind the cut. I'll happily take advice from anyone who's done this before, or give advice to anyone who's as new to this as I am.
The first thing I set up was the vacuum breaker, pressure regulator, etc, between spigot and garden hose. Arrows on the components point in the direction of water flow. I did have to buy a short flexible hose attachment, because my outdoor spigot is so tight to the wall: otherwise there wouldn't have been enough room for the filter canister.
For the rest of it, I started by laying out the drip tape in the beds, drippy slits pointing down. To cap off the ends, slip the tape into the narrow slit on the sleeve end, fold it over once or twice, and tug to trap the folds inside the sleeve end.
The mainline tubing was curved/coiled; I just went with that instead of trying to straighten it out into a straight line. This worked fine for the raised beds, because I had to jog a bit from one to the other; the wide rows are a straight shot so I might want to do something different there.
The raised beds aren't "raised" so much as just enclosed. Still, I had to jog the tubing up/down a few inches here and there. I just used rocks to prop things up, and to hold them in place going around curves: low-tech but effective.
I only had to turn the spigot a quarter turn, and all the tubing fattened up and started dripping. There were a couple leaks - me not getting connections tight - I turned things off and fixed the connections and all works fine now. Even with a few spots where the tubing drips outside the beds, it's still obviously way more efficient than just using a garden hose. I left things on for an hour or so...anyway, it was starting to rain.
Vacuum breaker, filter, and pressure regulator, between spigot and hose.
Hose attaching to mainline, with two lines of drip tape coming off it.
I just went with the natural curve of the mainline; the other two sets of raised beds are a bit wider so it tucks up nicely against the side wall.
Yes, that spinach/chard should be planted going the other direction; I'd planted it pre-irrigation and forgot.
I figure it will be a good test of how things grow at different distances from the drip. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Third bed, with end cap on mainline. The rocks raise things up enough to keep the drip tape from kinking.
Hmm...I just remembered that I didn't cap off the other end of the mainline when I disconnected the hose. I was supposed to do that - to keep out bugs and such.
Anyway, so far so good. Although it rained today while I was installing the drip tape, this will all come in very handy in the usual dry spells of summer.