How to Setup Dripworks Drip Lines

Feel a little clueless when it comes to how to setup Dripworks drip lines? I was a bit intimated by drip lines and assumed they were ultra complicated.

Turns out, the hardest part of installing the Dripworks drip lines up was the baby that woke up early from his nap.

I purchased the small kit from Dripworks and added a few extra packages of drip tape, end plugs etc. to make it work for my space.

This is the Dripworks drip tape kit I purchased plus extra drip lines, row connectors and end plugs to customize it to my space. Photo credit to Dripworks.

Before you purchase drip lines, map out your garden space and figure out the length of mainline and drip tape you will need. Also consider the type of soil you are working with and how that will affect the number of lines needed in each row.

I chose to do three lines of drip tape down each row since our clay soil is dense, but it transports the water a little better than sandy soil.

(Someone  with sandy soil would probably do four drip lines.)

Don’t know what type of soil you have? You can order a soil test or go outside after it rains and see for yourself. Just grab a clump of the dirt in your hand and squeeze to see how well it sticks together. Clay soil tends to clump. You can also look at your untilled ground in the summer. Does it have cracks? Is it super hard to shovel? Probably clay.

Once my kit arrived I watched a quick Youtube video on installing dripworks drip lines and went to work.

The first part you will need to make is the manifold. The manifold =  filter + regulator + hose regulator. It looks like a weird paintball gun.

You connect the weird paintball gun to the faucet (I also ordered a faucet splitter, so I could use the faucet for other things without disconnect my lines.

I also recommend adding a timer to your drip lines to get consistent watering with minimal effort. (This will also come in handy when I am off camping or visiting family.)

Garden Tip: Use teflon tape on your end plugs or on any connections that are leaking on the manifold. This saved my sanity.

After the manifold is connected to the faucet, you will need to connect your mainline tubing. That is the thicker tubing without drip holes in it.

I bought an easy-loc T connector since my line needed to go in two directions from my faucet (I have rows on either side of the faucet). I had to cut a portion of the mainline to connect first then connect the easy-loc T so it added a step.

I struggled big time trying to wiggle the stiff mainline tubing onto the manifold. I finally gave up and let the tubing sit in the hot sun so it could become more pliable.

That seemed to do the trick.

My next issue was getting the mainline to lay flat when I rolled it out. I ended up using landscape staples that came with my kit to hold it in place while I connected the drip tape lines.

The drip tape lines go down the length of each row. To connect them to the mainline, the kit gives you a special hole puncher and multiple drip tape row connectors.

Excuse the mess, but you can see how th emain line goes down the length of the garden and the drip tapes come off of it.

I spaced my drip tape lines about a foot apart on each row.

You make the holes with the puncher where you want the lines to start, then stuff in the connectors.

I found it easiest if I punched the hole slightly higher than horizontal and put the connector in with a twisting motion.

The hole is punched in the mainline and the barb attachment is stuffed in it.

Once the connectors are in, you will connect the drip tape by sliding it onto the end of the connector and screwing the connector down. (It will make sense when you see the parts you are working with.)

Slide the end of the drip tape onto the barb connector.

Unroll the drip tape down the row and cut.

If you have row covers make sure the end peaks out so you can tighten any end plug leaks. (Wish I had thought of this….)

To connect the end plugs, you will want to put teflon tape on, before sliding the end of the drip tape on.

Try to keep the drip tape from going sideways when screwing the end plug down over it.

The figure eight kinks the end of the mainline.

Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!

At the end, you will probably have sore thumbs from punching all those little holes and twisting on all the row connectors.

Once your lines are down you will use the figure eight ends to kink the end of the mainline (you don’t want water pouring out of the mainline).

 

The last step will be testing out your drip lines/timer by turning on the water.

Walk along your lines while the water is running to see if you can spot any end plug or manifold leaks.

Be sure to turn the water off, before fixing the leaks or you will be working in mud.

That is it! My next step is to research how often my drip lines need to go on and programming that on my timer. So far I have found these other articles helpful here,  here and here.

Garden Tip: If you are working with landscape fabric you will be putting that down over the lines. I researched the pros and cons of drip tape over or under the row covers and decided to go with under.

 

The idea being the water will be flush with the soil and be more likely to go where I want it to go before evaporating. I’ve also heard drip tape lasts longer if it is protected under the landscape fabric.

 

The trade-off being easy access to your drip tape if a leak springs or a drip hole gets clogged.

 

Hopefully that isn’t an issue if you have a filter on your manifold, avoid stepping in on your rows, or stabbing landscape staples into your lines on accident.

For my top three tips to laying landscape fabric, you can read my post here. 

If you plan on putting down a straw or hay mulch, make sure you test your lines first and put the mulch on top.

If you still have questions, feel free to post them below in the comments!

It is amazing how long it takes to write each post with two rascally kids climbing all over me. However, I do my best to include details (even if it is embarrassing to admit my failures). If you can, I would really appreciate it if you left a comment below. It makes me happy to know someone is out there and it gives my website a boost. Happy gardening! 

 

 

 

 

2018 Planting Schedule

I’ve uploaded my 2018 season planting schedule for those of you, like me, that need a visual display.

I live in Utah in zone 6b-7 so the below example of succession planting and other flower farming tasks for spring, summer and fall may not fit your situation exactly.

Garden Tip: I highly recommend getting your own planting schedule in a Google Calendar. My calendar is linked to my phone so I get handy reminders whenever something comes up for my garden.

The calendar is not all inclusive yet, but I hope to track this first year in order to prepare better for next year. #gardenjournal

Let me know what you think in the comments below! 

 

Starting Seedlings for Beginners

When I first started flower farming, I had an image in my head that I would be out in my garden tucking each little seed into the soil. I had a rude awakening when I realized that most seeds would need to be started indoors before spring.

In fact, Erinn from Floret Farms starts 90 percent of her cut flowers from seed! Goodbye dreams of tucking each little seed into the garden outside…

WHEN TO START FLOWER SEEDLINGS:

If you want to know when start your seeds, you need to know your last frost date. In Lehi Utah our last frost date is around Mother’s Day. The most reliable method for pinning down your last frost date is by asking your neighbors or local nurseries.

Once you know your last frost date, count back the number of weeks your seed packet says to sow indoors.

For example, I needed to start my Snapdragons indoors. The packet says to sow them 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost of the season. Since the last frost date in my area is around Mother’s Day, I started my first round of seedlings the first weekend in March.

If you plan on succession planting, then you will also need to know your first frost date. You can find more info on succession planting in my upcoming post “How to Make a Succession Planting Schedule.” 

Homemade seed staring mix.

WHERE TO START FLOWER SEEDLINGS:

You could start seedlings on a south-facing windowsill in your home. However, the healthiest plants are achieved by three basic components: (1) seedling soil, (2) lights, and (3) heat mats.

Of course, a heated greenhouse is ideal, but that is not the most affordable option for us garden peasants just starting out.

I am a thrifty person and researched quite a bit before deciding on my own seed starting station to make at home. Below is a list of materials that I used:

I’ve also seen home gardeners recycle used milk jugs outside to start seeds or clear tubs! That would be the cheapest method.

Most seedlings should be germinated on heat mats since the ideal germination temperature is 70F. (There are some exceptions like Snapdragons that prefer lots of light, but slightly cooler temps.) Your house may be 70F, but your soil is actually 10F degrees or more cooler, hence the heat mats for germination.

Heat mats are not necessary after germination.

They will also need grow lights (unless it is specified that they prefer darkness to germinate). I have my setup in a room with a south facing window and I have a timer that turns the lights on for 14 hours a day starting at 7am.

The lights should hang three inches from the top of the plants (any lower and you risk burning the leaves). You will want a setup that allows for adjusting the lights as they grow.

I experimented with grow lights vs shop lights (GE Daylight T8 bulbs) and found little difference. I prefer the shop lights because they cover more area for cheaper.

You will want four bulbs across for best results (I learned this the hard way).

HOW TO START SEEDLINGS INDOORS:

I started seeds indoors following the Floret Farm method found in her book or on her blog post here.  Rather than retype those instructions, I want to focus on things that were not clear and that I had to learn by experience.

One of the things I have found frustrating about starting seeds is finding an affordable and easy to find seedling soil.

I tried the basic Miracle Gro Seedling Soil first and when that failed fantastically…I tried Epsom mix and Black Gold mix. So far my results have been best with Black Gold.

UPDATE: This year I trying a homemade seed starting mix. This recipe is specific to soil blocking, but you could google others for cell trays.

Starting_flower_seedlings_indoors_utah_flower_farm

You’ll find that each seed has specific seed starting instructions on the back of the packet. One may say the seed needs light to germinate, while another seed may need absolute darkness to germinate.

Quick Tip: If you want more specific instructions for a type of seedling then Google the variety + culture sheet. For example, “snapdragon culture sheet.”

To complicate the matter further, the packets will show different germination rates. This is the number of days the seed is expected to take to sprout.

You’ll want to keep seed types separate in their own cell blocks/soil blocks or at least group seeds with similar germination methods and rates together in cell blocks.

Humidity domes typically come off once 50 percent of the seeds have germinated. Once germination takes place (or once you see a set of true leaves) you can start fertilizing to boost growth.

Homemade seed starting recipe.

COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID:

Below are a few of the common mistakes to avoid when starting flower seedlings indoors:

  1. Top watering: You will want to bottom water your seedlings using the trays that come with the cell blocks. A common mistake is watering seeds from the top, which will flush the tiny seed away.
  2. Shocking transplants: When you are ready to transplant your starts outside, you will need to follow the “harden off” method. This basically means you need to get the plants used to their new environment a few hours at a time before planting them outside. Set plants outdoors for a few hours, slowly increasing the time they spend outdoors before transplanting into the garden. Start this process about a week before you want them outdoors permanently.
  3. Plants becoming root-bound: This happens when your plants grow too big for their containers. I just sowed my Snapdragon seedlings in the 72-cell block size, then realized they will need to be transplanted into larger containers in 3 to 4 weeks before transplanting them outside. Make sure you read the back of the packet carefully to avoid needing to switch your starts to different pots half way through the growing process. Floret Farms says 72-cell and 50-cell flats are her go-to container sizes.
  4. Seedling soil should not have fertilizer: I guess this was my mistake with the miracle grow seedling soil. Seeds don’t need fertilizer until they have true leaves. Seedling soil with fertilizer will launch them into growth resulting in leggy plants that fall over. Many growers prefer to make their own mix for this reason. Once plants have germinated, you can start using a liquid Seaweed and Fish Emulsion fertilizer. To combat leggy plants, you can put a fan on seedlings to encourage thicker stems.
  5. Over or under watering seedlings: I am still figuring out the exact science to this. I had some beautiful eucalyptus starts that suddenly shriveled on me. I still don’t know if it was over or under watering! I am thinking under watering….

It is amazing how long it takes to write each post with two rascally kids climbing all over me. However, I do my best to include details (even if it means admitting how much I failed at the beginning). If you can, I would really appreciate it if you left a comment below. It makes me happy to know someone is out there and it gives my website a boost. Happy gardening!