By Jennifer Ruisch
Drip systems can be a garden godsend, or simply sabotage, depending on many things. Not the least of which is the quality and scope of your setup. There are lots of pros and cons to drip systems. Some people swear by them, a few swear at them; the occasional drip disaster tale does make its way to my ears. Like my friend who used a bucket drip system to keep her house plants watered when she left the country, only to come home and find a big puddle on her floor, and a ring of dead plants. (This is why people use drip stakes, so the tubing doesn’t shift and drip all over the floor).
I have heard of many hydro systems set up with drip lines that flourish, and I’ve seen some in action. It takes some of the burden of a large indoor garden off the shoulders of the gardener. Let’s get happy and start with the pros.
The upside of relying on drippers is that you don’t have to worry about hand watering your crop. Indoor watering can be a pain in the bucket. If you’re using a substrate such as perlite, a drip system can not only provide all the moisture your plant needs, but you can use the system to deliver nutrients, as well. The constant dripping will help your plants retain moisture if you live in a hot or dry climate. This is great if your plants are in a dry place, like an attic, or if your house has naturally low humidity. If you have a drip system in place, you don’t have to worry about humidifiers, even if your house is as dry as a British sitcom.
Drip systems can centralize your work. As long as you have enough lines to feed your water supply over all your plants, you can refill in one central location, and even mix your nutrients and do your water tests there. You are doing your water tests, riiiight? pH and nutrient levels? C’mon, we’ve talked about this… Instead of mixing for each container, pallet or table, you can just have a one and done setup. Gadgets make it so easy. This is the future! Let robots do your work!
Setting one of these in place can also help you spread yourself a little thinner, which means the ability to grow a bigger crop. Bigger crop, bigger yield. But be careful not to get too big for your britches. Spreading yourself too thin can turn you toward disaster. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Like any drip, this system has its drawbacks. A line drip system may end up dripping more water on the plants closer to the water source. It’s also possible for a system to break down, and if you aren’t checking it frequently, you may walk in on a grisly scene the next time you wander in to your grow spot. Ok, maybe you shouldn’t rely too heavily on robots. We’ve all seen the movies. We know what can happen.
Like a young MC, one also has to be cautious about the flow. Too much, and your plants will rot away, and mold, fungus, and root rot will come knocking. Too little and your plants will be stunted, or shrivel up and blow away. Duuuust in the wiiiind…
Drip systems rely on a consistent water supply, so they need a designated spigot that is constantly turned on. If the spigot is used for other purposes, you raise the chance of forgetting to reconnect the drip hose, or forgetting to leave it turned on. It’s best to just connect your lines to something reliable and dependable that no one ever moves around or turns off.
Even with the system set in place, and the water flow predictable, you have to be vigilant. With lots of gadgets taking the chores out of your hobby, it’s easy to become lazy.
Don’t let yourself be eased into a comfortable ignorance. You’ve got to check the moisture levels frequently, especially when first setting up the system, so that you know you can count on it for the long haul. Investing in a quality system that is well-suited for your space can go a long way toward a successful growing season, even many successful growing seasons. Don’t forget you must remain attentive to the plants other needs, as well. Even with robots running the show, a closely watching human will be the best line of defense against neglect and disease.