Friday, August 8, 2014

Low Maintenance Fall Garden based on HossTools seeder and plow.

We finally got the fall garden in the ground! Fourty  80 foot rows of  Rutabegas, Carrots, Cabbage, and Beets in the ground. We are hoping our new approach to garden management will reduce the time required to tend it, from start to finish. So far we have it planted in record time!

The system is based on 3 things:

only drip irrigation from seed to harvest
no raised beds
single rows, spaced 12 inches apart, i straight lines

This is one of those cases where the value of each aspect depends on the others being there (synergy?). Hre is our reasoning::

We need to do drip irrigation to water. a garden of this size is just too big to hand water. Sprinklers of all different types have been tried and none work perfectly, plus they require too much water, a precious commodity these days. Drip is the only answer that made sense to me.

But its tricky to germinate in the ground using drip. One "benefit" of drip is that the water goes DOWN, not OUT.  It makes a bell shape of moisture under the ground. On surface, where germinating seeds are, the moisture can be only a couple inches wide.  This limits weed growth, but makes it tough to germinate. So we needed very straight rows of single line of seeds. That way the drip line can lay right over the seeds and keep them wet to germinate. We have tested this and it works GREAT if the seeds are in line.

In order to put the seeds down in a straight single line, we use our HossTools Seeder. This year we worked the kinks out and it performed beautifully. Last year we had 3 problems: seeds too big for the standard holes, seeds different sizes, and seeds getting caught under the seed plates.  This year we got some blank seed plates and used a dremel on a drill press to make our own. It was amazing easy and made the seeding go very very well.  Planting the entire garden only took an hour or two! More to come on tis seeder in a later post, but right now it is the best thing since sliced bread!

We plan on "weeding" by using the Hoss Tools double wheel hand plow with oscillating hoe. There are actually 2 hoes attached to a spreader bar, with enough space in between to fit the sprouts between the hoes. These little jewels are perfect! rows only 12 inches, but single rows, allow us to push the plow right over the seedlings, the hoe cutting off anything within a half inch from the sprout. one pass over each row and the garden will be weeded. Thai can be repeated until the plants get too big to fit between the hoes.

The water system is the pressure compensating  drip tape from aquatrax with 8 inch low flow emitters. I love this tape! Small hills and valleys down long rows dont mean puddles of water... because the holes compensate automatically for the change in pressure and emit the same flow. I was able to cover a 80 foot by 50 foot area with lines every 1 foot, and drive this all from a single water hose for even water pattern. It runs at low pressure (under 20 psi) so that makes leaks less likely.

So the bottom line is.. we invested the time to build the headers for hte drip tape at set spacing from 3/4 inch PVC, used the drip connectors as a visul guid to make the right spacing, then used the hoss tool seeder row marker to mark the next row for every one planted.  Planting too one to two hours. Then we cur and installed the drip tape.

Turn this all on for short time multiple times per day... maybe 1 hour every 4 or 6, nd the seeds will sprout with minimal weeds. Then it easy to weed in place with just walking over it, and the water is always done automatically on timer. Its almost automatic!

So thats the plan... check back in a month to see how this works out :)

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