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Here we go, fasten your seat belt and here we go...down the rabbit hole big time.
It may be genetic....
My Granddad on my Mom's side ran a big program teaching ghetto kids to operate a truck farm.
That was the Fairview Garden school, there's some remaining pictures and info online.
It was started by the wealthy ladies in the area in the big push for what was then called "hygeine" which was basically a clean up your act on a lot of fronts, social, health, sanitation, etc.
That was early 1900s, the pandemic in 1920 killed him.
The entire family on that side ran a large nursery biz at that time.
My Mom grew up in that nursery biz and she was good about teaching me as many skills as possible, so I'm out digging in the dirt from a very young age and learning those skills.
My parents used to flip houses back then due to the necessity of my Dad changing jobs frequently (interesting story there for another day, involves origins of many sales and marketing ideas) and we were often out making gardens and doing landscaping to set the houses up for resale.
My Dad grew a big victory garden WW 2 era and often grew tomatos as a hobby. I remember that soil when we lived on on Timonium road was incredibly fertile, tomato plants half as high as the house.
Fast forward to the hippy-dippy days 60s/70s and I had a huge interest in the whole back to the land thing.
Wherever I was I was attempting to grow food.
The success level, as I look back now, depended on the fertility of where I was at the time. I was clueless on how to successfully amend the soil because I was following the early organic preachings, which were wrong due to Rodale and friends not accounting for the fact they were working with almost perfect soil in PA and what worked there often (usually) did not apply elsewhere.
New England soil was the best. It was much like what Rodale and company had in PA. I worked for a septic tank company at the time , just adding the leftover dried sewage "fluff" (nitrogen) from the sewage treatment plant that I knew carefully analysed everything that came in, so nothing evil in it. That grew some awesome veggies...and pot plants.
Moving to FL in the mid 70s presented a whole new challenge...trying to garden in sand with almost zero nutrients.
I can now appreciate that situation in that huge mistakes are quickly erased as the mistake just washes right through the sand. The biggest mistake was applying compost that had the herbicides that never die in it and losing all my gardens for a couple years. It would have taken way longer to recover in a different soil and those years without in the ground gardens I learned a ton about growing in containers.
My first suggestion to anyone evaluating land for growing stuff, or seeing what they have, would be to look up the US soil survey info. Incredible amounts of info on what's under your feet in your little patch of ground.
From the 70s forward, always experimenting, always learning more.
I was friends with a lot of the old time farmers here and they taught me a ton about how things work here.
This was also a big illegal pot growing area and those growers were highly skilled.
Learned lots from them too.
Side note on that one, the big corporations have monopolized the now legal pot growing here but they're having huge fails that were easily preventable were they to consult some of those old growers.
Current projects are a mostly self sufficient hydroponic green house (almost there!) and turning my place into a food forest with all the perennial food plants, fruit and nut trees and shrubs I can fit onto this acre and a third.
OK, enough history, on to your questions.
Had drip for years and it never worked right. Much experimenting got close, but still, not enough water.
I eventually went over to micro sprinklers and that works like a charm.
This is what I use:
For main lines -
1/2" Polyethylene Drip Irrigation Tubing 500' (.600" ID x .700" OD)
This stuff uses compression fittings you force/wiggle on to the tube, and unlike what the video says, you can re-use them by collapsing/folding the tube in the fitting with a screwdriver:
You punch holes in the main lines to connect 1/4 inch tubing to lead up to the micro sprinklers using 1/4" fittings, the fittings are pushed into the hole until they pop in, pliers can help here :
I use a propane torch to slightly heat the 1/4" tube before trying to force it on to the fitting, then pop the fitting into the main tube. Makes it WAY easier.
I put the micro sprinklers on bamboo stakes. old 1/2" conduit , or whatever else I have to get them up higher than the plants.
These are the sprinklers, which screw into the end of the 1/4" tube:
You want to keep the 1/4" runs as short as possible.
With 35 - 40 psi water pressure this setup will water about 200' of the main lines in one run.
I put the sprinklers 8' apart, the sprinklers cover a 4' circle. This does leave some gaps where the circles intersect but I just run them long enough for the water to soak into those areas.
I like the DIG brand for the tubing and the rest of it whatever is cheapest.
Home Depot usually has all this too if you want to get it locally.
Now that I'm retired I switch zones on the irrigation manually every 2 hours because I never had good results relying on timers and valves, and they're expensive and fail too often.
Now....the best thing I learned very recently...
Sea salt foliar fed to the plants...and in hydroponic solution, which works really well with the above irrigation setup and a siphon mixer for the salt/fertilizer solution.
If you ever want to try this I'll write it all out to save you suffering through the learning curve. You have to do things like modify the siphon (Hozon brand, Hoss tools has them best price, and removing the backflow valve from it) and balance how many sprinklers to get good coverage because the siphon mixer cuts down the flow big time.
Stumbled into the history of a guy here who was growing tomatos commercially in sea water solution back in the 60s.
That's a long story for another time. That got me looking around on this but hugely hesitant due to my life long belief that salt just killed everything.
Boy, was that ever wrong.
I wouldn't even try the salt until I talked with a soil scientist I know and he convinced me it worked big time and he uses it in his personal gardens.
Here's all the info on the sea salt:
I ran the salt in the hydro solution for the tomatos in the greenhouse last winter with almost unbelievable results...any disease could not get a foothold and the resulting produce was just delicious and a LOT of it.
Same great results for running through the micro sprayers to the beds in the ground.
What they say on their website is no bull****.
There are other people selling variations of this but these folks are the best and most economical.
This also ties in nicely to trying to have maximum nutrition in what I grow.
The taste of everything grown in the salt solution is also way, way above and beyond the usual. I gave tomatos to people who have grown gardens forever and they raved about them being the best tasting ever
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