Microirrigation for Vegetable Gardens

Microirrigation is an efficient way to water vegetable gardens and conserve our precious water supply.

Vegetable gardens of different sizes and shapes at the UF/IFAS Orange County Extension garden. Photo: Tia Silvasy, UF/IFAS

This goes along with Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle #2, Water Efficiently. Microirrigation is defined as a low volume, low flow system. These systems deliver water in gallons per hour, instead of gallons per minute as traditional overhead spray heads provide. Microirrigation delivers water to the root zone where plants need it, without wetting the foliage much, which can cause disease problems. The main types of microirrigation are drip line, micro sprays, and bubblers.

Collards on drip irrigation. Photo: Tia Silvasy, UF/IFAS

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is also called drip line or drip tubing. In line drip tubing is ideal for row crops and in ground gardens. Depending on the type, emitters are spaced at 6, 9, 12, 18, or 24″. Dripline has a low flow so usually requires a long run time, perhaps 30 minutes per irrigation cycle.

Determine how long to run your drip irrigation system with this helpful publication from Penn State. https://extension.psu.edu/determining-how-long-to-run-drip-irrigation-systems-for-vegetables.

Microsprays 

Microspray is the most common type of microirrigation. Photo: Jackie Rivas, UF/IFAS

Microsprays come in many types, including micro jets, misters, spinners and micro sprinklers. The mini spray head is typically clipped to a stake or riser. Some features of micro sprays include:

•Available in different watering patterns
•Watering range is usually 2-4 feet, but can spray up to 25 feet
•Good for low growing vegetables such as carrots, radishes, leafy greens
•Not good for squashes and vegetables that are prone to fungal diseases
•Use caution with taller vegetables – may block the spray
 
There are many styles of microirrigation kits available that range in price from $20 to $100. Check the kits carefully to determine the length, number of spray heads and other components to decide what is right for your garden. Microirrigation is used a lot for container gardens or irregular shaped landscape beds. Learn more in our EDIS publication Microirrigation for the Home Landscape. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/AE524
 
Bubblers
Bubbler with multi stream spray pattern watering a pepper plant. Photo: Jackie Rivas, UF/IFAS
 
Bubblers are a versatile type of microirrigation. They can be used for many of the same functions as micro sprays but can deliver more water for larger plants, shrubs and trees. Sometimes you will hear the name microbubbler, shrubbier, or tree bubbler to denote their use and flow rate. They can emit up to 26 gallons per hour. Most are adjustable to increase/decrease flow rate, and with most styles you can decrease the water flow completely to turn off the water. For more information on irrigation, view our EDIS publication Efficient Irrigation for Florida-Friendly Edible Landscapes. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP617.

Another great EDIS publication on growing vegetables is the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/VH021.

Want to learn more?  Check out horticulture classes offered by UF/IFAS Extension Orange County at www.ocextension.eventbrite.com. Read about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ at https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/. Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GardenFlorida/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/oc_extension/, and visit our website at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/orange/home-lawns-landscapes-and-gardens/florida-friendly-landscaping/.

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Posted: May 18, 2022


Category: , Conservation, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Fruits & Vegetables, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Water
Tags: Conservation, Fruit Tree, Irrigation, Microirrigation, Orange County, Resources, Spray, Vegetable, Water


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