Being successful with a deck container garden and drip irrigation system in the brutal Texas heat is tough.
I’m convinced, that without my inexpensive drip irrigation system, my plants would just wither and blow away. I’m also very grateful that it was easy to install my home garden drip irrigation system, simple to maintain and quite inexpensive. The planter boxes irrigation is going well, plants are all growing well and starting to produce – although not at the level that would seem to make this anything more than a hobby. I’m still not sure of the tricks needed to fine tune a drip irrigation system for container garden to reach a steady volume of enough to put food on the table.
Drip Irrigation System Planter Boxes
The cucumber plants love the plant cage in their container garden. They are flowering prolifically and producing small cucumbers consistently. I only have a total 10 vines in the pot – 5 of each variety – and still some perform very well and others do not perform very well. I’m unsure why this might be or whether or not it’s related to my drip irrigation system.
I had a number of early cucumbers make and removed all except one. This cucumber appears to have done well for a short period of time but then run out of something – not sure what – that it needed to produce a full sized fruit. One of the emitters was actually over watering the vines so I don’t think it was lack of water from the drip irrigation system. I have no way to test the content or value of the soil though so I’m operating in the dark there. I suspect that I might not have enough soild for the plants.
The cherry tomatoes are doing well enough. Once I allowed them to flower and produce fruit they seemed to take off and get busy. I expect these plants to ripen quickly and the plant to continue to grow. The soil appears dry in this picture but this year I’ve been very careful to direct the emitters right onto the plant stalk and roots to minimize the amount of water I use from the drip irrigation system.
The patio variety tomatoes are going gang busters! I find it very interesting that this plant is still no taller than about 24 inches and the main stalk is very thick. I’m quite impressed with this variety and anxious to see how they taste. The plant seems optimal for a container garden in that it requires very little water from the rain drip irrigation system, nor does it need much maintenance and is starting to get heavy with young tomato plants.
The yellow pear tomatoes are interesting. They appear to be very slow to mature. There are a ton of young fruits on the plant and the plant is very viney, not very compact at all. The young tomatoes have been on the vine for about two weeks and have yet to run yellow, as expected when they are mature.
The cowhorn peppers seem to love the planter box and the irrigation system. They continue to grow heartily and mature quickly. I haven’t picked any yet but plan to within a week or so. I expect these make a pretty good chili relleno.
The jalapenos have really come along in the past few weeks. The overall plant size has not increased very much but the peppers are very abundant. This pepper plant, like the cowhorn pepper, seem to require very little water from the drip irrigagtion system or much maintenance – making it a great candidate for a container garden. I’m beginning to think that a big part of the success of a deck container garden is in the accurate selection of proper species and varieties to thrive in a planter box.
My youngest is thrilled – her strawberry plant produced a strawberry. This plant is behaving almost exactly like the plant from last year – which was generally a failure – by producing only a few small fruits. I think strawberries are best left to the folks who know what they are doing.
I began adding fertilizer three weeks ago and it seems to work well in conjunction with the irrigation system. I like Medina Hasta Grow liquid because it works well in my liquid fertilizer feeder, it has a built in measuring cup and pours and mixes easily.
Inexpensive Drip Irrigation System Fertilizer Feeder
I use a liquid injection fertilizer feeder that adds a fertilizer mixture directly into the drip irrigation system water line. You can vary the volume settings, it requires little or no maintenance, works consistently well and fits easily into my budget for an inexpensive drip irrigation system. I highly recommend this fertilizer feeder if you install home garden irrigation system. It takes a little experimentation to find the right settings so that fertilizer is fed evenly during the week without running out.
And the fertilizer feeder works great until it doesn’t work. The first week, it fed exactly zero fertilizer. I didn’t do any maintenance over the winter, in fact, just left it on the deck, and I suspect that something is clogged up. I changed the feed setting from minimum to maximum to see if that made a difference.
Changing the flow setting on the fertilizer feeder didn’t make a difference – nothing changed over the week so there is still some sort of problem. When I filled it initially, I just added fertilizer to the water already in the fertilizer feeder. This week, I completely emptied all of the water to see if the drip irrigation system will fill it like it is supposed to.
Install Home Garden Drip Irrigation System Emitters
I suspected that my emitters in the planter boxes might be having problems and the video shows that one of them was flowing far greater than it should. I still have some extra emitters left from when I install home garden drip irrigation system. All of the other emitters are flowing nicely at 0.5 GPH. I use one emitter per plant and direct the drip flow right onto where the plant stalk meets the dirt. The emitters are a challenge to change in that they are difficult to remove from the hose. I think the tradeoff of being hard to remove versus popping off very easily under pressure is a good one. I had some problem last year with loose emitters that popped off and water would spray every where – the dogs liked it but it wasn’t really what I wanted.
The Texas heat has climbed into the 100s every day and the plants are looking a bit sickly. I increased the watering duration from 5 minutes twice daily to 10 minutes twice daily to provide them with more water in this brutal heat. We’ve also had little or no rain in the past nine months and the general environment is probably sucking water from any place it can be found – including plant leaves.
The plants continued to look sickly so I got out my soil thermometer to test soil temperature again. I had this problem last year and then built plant shade boxes to help minimize the heat transfer and reflection from the deck onto the plant containers. Nevertheless, when I tested the soil temperature, it was 98 degrees at 7PM in the evening.
In contrast, the soil temperature on the ground off the deck was a mere 82 degrees. Even thought the plant shades looked like a good idea, I don’t think they are performing as intended with the drip irrigagtion system. I wish I’d waited a bit to further test the prototype before building out all of them.
Gardening by yourself is not nearly as much fun as gardening with a helper. It’s brutally hot in Texas so we provide our helpers with an easy way to jump in a cool off. This actually started me to thinking about a new approach for next year – rain water collection and drip irrigation system.
I’m learning a ton and having fun. I’ve learned that some plant species and varieties perform much better than other so plant selection is important to be able to thrive and produce in the tougher conditions we have on the deck. Rather than trying to modify too much to accommodate the environment, I’m going to think more carefully about adapting to the environment I have. I also think I may branch out next year into a raised bed garden but want to couple that with a rain water collection and drip irrigation system so that it doesn’t require water that I purchase.
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