Weeds are simply plants growing where they aren’t wanted so what is a weed is my judgment call, but I’ve decided what should grow here and what shouldn’t.
I’ve worked to prepare the ground for a beautiful garden. I’ve pulled weeds by hand and put down weed mat to stop them from growing back. I’ve added mulch to help suppress the weeds. On the positive side, I have tried to put the right plant in the right place, then fertilized, and watered.
My gardening techniques have been successful, but I have a problem. The new microirrigation system provides water at the roots of plants. Those small drips of water penetrate the soil around the roots and are stimulating the weeds under the weed mat and mulch. The germinating weed seeds and leftover parts of weed roots grow towards the opening around the roots of plants, because that is where the most water is.
Since the microirrigation was installed, each time I step into the garden I see weeds sticking up, wanted and ugly, through the plants that I want to grow. My message to the invading weeds is, “there is no place in my garden for you.” I may have a long battle ahead of me, but I’ll keep working towards my goal: a beautiful, pleasant and healthy Florida-Friendly garden environment for my family to enjoy. I will remain persistent, fighting the weeds as they invade.
In the photo above the unwanted nutsedge tries to sneak back into my garden by growing through my beautiful and wanted juniper.
When we installed the microirrigation system, we didn’t realize the water pressure was a problem, although the people installing the system said I was lucky to have such good water pressure. We tested the system while they were here and it seemed to function without problems.
I realized that the water pressure was too high for the system when I discovered that several tubes repeatedly came loose from the emitters when the system was turned on early in the morning. I called the contractor to see what I could do to fix the problem. His solution was to install a device to reduce the water pressure at the source of the water. He arrived a few days later to install the device and didn’t charge me anything for the modification. Wonderful! I was afraid that modification would have to be made at each emitter, so this simple, one device reduces the pressure throughout the system, was a happy solution.
Oh, delight. I am no longer dragging a hose around to water my plants. I love technology and I love my new microirrigation system. After living here for almost a year, we decided it was time to do something about the lack of an irrigation system. There were old pipes in the ground with rotary heads, but several of them were broken or missing, and the old control panel didn’t work.
I knew I needed professional help, so I made a call to arrange a consultation. His recommendation was that it would cost less to install a new system than it would to dig up and repair the old system. We had no idea where all the old pipes were or how good they were. To ensure the old pipes were in good condition would involve digging up the entire system and that seemed like a waste of time and money. I could also see that many of the old rotary heads were in locations where I don’t need water, so to reconnect them would be very inefficient.
My Goal: The old rotary head system was set up to water turf grass but maintaining turf grass is not part of my plan. I’m trying to establish a Florida-Friendly landscape that will be drought tolerant and that once established will need little water. I knew I needed at least 3 sections or zones: one for the front yard that will need little water once established, another for the vegetables that will need more water than the front area, and a third that will provide water until the fruit trees are established.
The System: We decided to install a microirrigation system. Plants only absorb water in contact with their roots. A microirrigation system allows controlled distribution of water where the plants are located. The photo above shows the plastic tube that was installed around the edge of the garden. It is easy to attach small emitters to the plastic tube so there is a controlled release of water where needed. The emitters can be adjusted to allow just a few drips of water or a small steady stream. It is easy to modify the system. I have already added a few tubes and emitters for new plants I have put in since the microirrigation system was installed.
The new control panel allows me to set the time and day for each zone. If it has rained and there is no need for the microirrigation system to turn on, a rain gauge turns off the system temporarily.
Can I say it again? I love the new microirrigation system.
The 4H Garden Goodies group at the Hillsborough County Extension Office set up a microirrigation system for their garden, after a brief discussion about the importance of water for plants. With adult guidance, the students cut the lengths of tube for different sections of the garden, connecting them with T and L joints. While students worked, Lynn Barber, Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Agent I for the Hillsborough County Extension Service and Maria Carver, Hillsborough County Water-Wise Coordinator, talked to the students about the advantages of controlling the water rate and placement through a microirrigation system rather than a solid set (pipes and spray or rotary heads) or a hand-held hose system. The students understood why they were putting in the microirrigation system and enjoyed spending time working together on a sunny Florida afternoon. It was hard work but the result was an (almost) complete system.