Garden soaker hose tips
Keep your garden well-watered for the best vegetable and flower production. A soaker hose reduces evaporation, and puts the water right where it needs to go – down to the roots.
Radio interview source: Dennis Patton, Extension Horticulture Agent, Kansas State University
Using a soaker hose on plants in the spring helps them get established. Soaker hose usage in the summer aids plants trying to survive with limited rainfall.
Dennis Patton is an extension horticulture agent at Kansas State University. He says soaker hoses put the water right where it's needed with no loss to evaporation or wind. It's attached to a regular garden hose and the water seeps through thousands of tiny holes. Placement of the hose is important, because Patton says gravity pulls the water flow straight down.
"Normally that soaker hose is placed right along side," he says. "Let's say it's a row of tomatoes, it's placed right along the side of the tomatoes, or a row of green beans, or it may be wrapped a couple of times around the truck of a young tree. You've just got to make sure the water is weeping out into the established root zone of the plant."
The trick is knowing how long to leave it on. Patton says there is no magic number because manufacturers have different flow rates, and everyone's water pressure varies. Keep in mind that too much water can cause just as many plant health problems as too little.
"Usually the challenge with soaker hoses is a little less at one time, but maybe a little bit more frequent," says Patton. "So you're just putting enough water into the root system that the plant is using what it needs, it doesn't leach on out of the root zone. So it's really hard to say whether that's an hour a day, an hour every two-days, it's just something you have to monitor I think, and watch your plants and see what they're telling you."
Some people run the hose on top of the ground when needed, others bury it under the mulch and leave it there. Patton says either way is fine. But if you bury the hose, make sure you know where it is so you don't accidentally chop it.
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