Thursday, August 6, 2015

Garden Fertigation update

Its been a few weeks now, exploring this new "fertigation" concept in the garden

"Fertigation is a method of fertilizing and irrigating simultaneously, using liquid fertilizer through drip lines and precise metering equipment"

We have tried several brands of liquid fertilizer, and settled on AlgoPlus  liquid organic fertilizer.  This one is totally water soluble, which is important! The others we tried had solids that actually settled out INSIDE the drip lines, potentially plugging the lines and holes.  AlgoPlus seems to flow right through.  The cost is about the same across all brands, if you figure in strength and dilution rates.  We also seem to see more positive improvement from algoplus than any of the other brands / types.

We purchase the fertilizer from Drip Depot because they are local and great to work with. They carry both the quart and the 5 gallon size. A single fertilization event across our garden requires about 15 gallons, so we buy the 5 gallon sizes. So far we have fertilized once per week at the recommended strengths with good results. The plant health has  improved, and growth rate has improved.

Watering levels has been tricky. Our ground is thick clay, so it takes forever to get it wet, but then it stays wet .. well.. forever.  I have been slowly increasing watering times to get a good saturation down deep, which took quite a while! At first I had 2 hours per section, twice a day. But last week we changed to 4 hours per section, once a day. This week the ground seems sufficiently wet, almosts too wet, so now I have cut it back to 4 hours per section once every 2 days.

I like to water deep and infrequently.  getting the moisture down below the roots encouraged deeper root growth as they chase the moisture. To accomplish this, the watering time must be long enough to get water deep, but the wait time between waterings must be long enough for the top to dry completely.  And of course, the weather conditions affect this greatly.  SO its a constant adjustment , but for now we seem to be at the sweet spot.

I do love the flexibility of the water timing system,  we are using Galcon controllers.  These are by far the most flexible and easily programmable controllers yet! They have some unique features not found on other controllers at anywhere near the price.  I highly recommend these!

So for now things are settling into a routine of water, fertilize, harvest, weed.  But soon we start on the fall garden, mostly roots!

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