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Plastic-free irrigation system?
May 23, 2013 - 5:47 am

Hello to all you kindred spirits!


Does anybody have a good system for irrigating a large garden without using plastic? I don’t know how it happened, since I use almost no plastic in my day to day life, but somehow I got talked into buying soaker hoses for irrigating my veggie garden. The idea is a good one – conserve water by burying hoses that slowly seep water directly into the soil under your plants…


But I smartened up when I got home and read the (cardboard!) packaging more thoroughly. They’re made out of recycled tires…so they’re as toxic as you can get in terms of type of plastic. (They smell toxic too.) They also come with carcinogen and reproductive health warnings, though those are conveniently out of sight until you open the package. 


I don’t want those chemicals in my veggies. So does anybody have a plastic-free system that works for them? We’ve been watering with a hose, but we’d like to do something that conserves water and time. Also, the hose is, of course, plastic too. And if we were to get a rain barrel…also plastic…

Beth Terry
422 Posts
May 27, 2013 - 11:26 pm

I wish I had a solution for you.  Maybe someone else will chime in.  When I created my plastic-free garden, it was small, so I just used a metal watering can and a metal pitcher.  /2011/07/gardening-without-plastic-part-3-mulching-and-watering/


But I’m guessing this will not work for a large garden.  Anyone have suggestions?

May 28, 2013 - 2:22 pm

Well, depending on the size of the garden etc, you could first set up your faucet right next to your garden (use pipes to get it there), if it is very large lead the pipes do your faucet is in the middle of the garden or have several. You could set up some sort of system where the water runs along a series of pipes with holes drilled in them. You could cover the pipes (and your garden) with mulch.  You could use halved bamboo or some metal. Oh, I bet a metal gutter with holes would work.  Think if the system that was used in the Swiss family Robinson movie. Or, flood the trenches between the rows of veggies OR, go to Pennsylvania and ask the Amish what they do. 


You can find wooden rain barrels. We had one. I bet there is a metal container out there you could use. Or create. 

May 31, 2013 - 5:52 pm

I asked a woman who runs an organic farm if she is concerned about plastic drip irrigation, and she made the point that water comes through pipes and/or plastic fittings/tubes along the way to your home/farm. I’m guessing you don’t filter your water outside. I think it just comes down to picking your battles.Smile

September 23, 2019 - 6:09 pm

I settled down to research how to run my pond water through a drip irrigation system using some sort of metal piping, and found no information on how to drill holes for even distribution considering pressure loss along the 100′ line.  So, it looks like I will be improvising.  I plant to buy sections of steel or aluminum 3/4″ dia pipe and drill small holes (maybe starting with 1/64″?) that get increasingly closer the farther from the mainline which is connected to my pond pump.  Then, if distribution still seems unequal, I will make the farther holes a little bigger than the closer holes.

June 7, 2022 - 2:30 pm
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