The technique you use to irrigate your vegetable garden
is dependent on several factors. We'll discuss several of them below so you can make an informed decision about what type of irrigation is right for you.
Climate has a huge impact on the irrigation of your vegetable garden. Someone living in Arizona will need a much more intense watering plan than someone living in Seattle. In general, the drier your climate is the more frequent and intense your irrigation plans should be. Some techniques like drip irrigation are even more useful in arid climates.
The type of soil in your garden also greatly affects the irrigation of your vegetable garden.
- Sandy soil doesn't retain water very well and requires more frequent watering, but the water will also be absorbed more quickly and reach deeper.
- Clay soil retains water very well but can also become water logged easily. Since it takes longer to be absorbed the irrigation needs to happen more slowly and has more trouble irrigating deep into the soil.
- Loamy soil is the best, offering good drainage while also absorbing nice amounts of water. Irrigating deeper is also more easily accomplished.
Types of Vegetables
Certain vegetables need the water to penetrate to different depths in order to be most effective for their roots. Lettuce, potatoes, radishes and spinach have shorter roots and only need irrigated to a depth of about 12 inches. Beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers, peas, peppers and summer squash do best when the irrigation reaches a depth of 20-22 inches. Pumpkins, sweet potatoes and winter squash should be watered to a depth of at least 2 feet.
Amount of Effort you Want to Spend
Each type of vegetable garden irrigation has two effort and time costs, "up front" and "ongoing". "Up front" costs include planing out and setting up the irrigation system. "Ongoing" costs include everything you do on a daily basis to apply the irrigation system.
If you have lots of time every day, you might be fine with having higher "ongoing" costs, while someone that works all day might need a system that runs itself.