There are many benefits to raised bed gardening. You'll have less trouble with weeds, warmer soil in spring, and usually, better yields. But what about the watering requirements for raised beds? Garden boxes have better water retention, but then they dry out —it's in an instant.
You aren't the only gardener who has left their garden bed unattended for one day too many, only to return to the box with the plants wilted and sad. Many veggie and flower gardeners have circumvented this garden box issue regulating water with automatic irrigation - which is where the Blumat irrigation kit for raised garden beds comes in handy.
The Blumat Irrigation Kit for Raised Garden Beds
Blumat irrigation is a straightforward technology requiring no batteries and no electric components. Instead, it relied on gravity to do the magic. It takes the pressure off you, the gardener, for daily watering duties. It's your stand-in when you go on vacation, and it is always set for the ideal moisture level.
While simple, a Blumat kit comes with a box full of components. It's a highly customizable kit, but the set up may feel daunting. If you are standing in front of a box full of pieces and a bed needing irrigation —here is where to start.
1. Set up the Water Supply
The raised garden kit has a few options when it comes to the water supply. The simplest is with a reservoir, fed by gravity. The second is a direct connection to a water source. This will require a pressure reducer (sold separately), and a hosing reducer to integrate with the 8mm water supply tubing.
Based on your garden's needs, proximity to a water supply, and personal preference, choose the best solution for your garden bed. Connect the 8mm water supply tubing to the water source, and lay the tubing to the garden box.
2. Circle the Box with the 8mm Water Supply Tubing
Whether you have purchased the 4 x 4' kit or the 4' x 8' garden box kit, lay a circle of 8mm tubing inside the bed to encircle all the plants. Connect the water supply to the inner circle with a tee-splitter. Add an on/off valve here for easy control of the irrigation system.
We'd also recommended adding a purge valve into the system at this point. Place the purge value at the opposing corner to the tee-fitting connected to the water supply.
3. Planning the BluSoak Hose, Carrots and Distribution Points
Whether you have the BluSoak System, the 4' x 4' Kit, or the 4' x 8' Kit, you'll want to lay the components out within the garden box first before installation.
First, lay the Blusoak hose inside the bed, in a pattern that covers the soil evenly (like a spiral). The tube can be a bit difficult to manipulate without water inside, do your best.
Second, lay carrots beside both ends of the BluSoak. Extra carrots can also be added if needed for larger plants (tomatoes, cannabis, peppers), but not always needed with the BluSoak. What about the distribution drippers? The distribution drippers should sit next to crops that grow together (carrots, lettuce, and herbs). But again, the BluSoak often eliminates the need for additional drippers.
Once laid out across the bed, you'll have a clear visual of the best design layout, even if the plants are already rooted.
Remember, carrots measure soil moisture content, so they should sit next to the root system. Distribution drippers should be placed roughly 4" away from carrots.
4. Installing the Components
Once you are happy with the general layout, peg the soaker hose in place with the supplied stakes and insert the carrots. Longer 9" carrots work best closer to the center, while the shorter 5" carrots can sit closer to the edge of the box. Carrots must be pre-soaked before install. Carrots, distribution drippers, and the soaker hose all connect together with the supplied 3mm tubing.
Connect a 9" carrot to the end of the soaker hose in the middle of the box. This carrot connects to the BluSoak hose and then to the 8mm water supply line with a Tee-fitting. You can also add a distribution dripper here if desired.
Insert the 5" carrot at the other end of the soaker hose. This connects the hose with the water supply line via a Tee-fitting. Continue adding carrots and distribution drippers as needed to your bed.
5. Turn on Water, Adjust the System
With the purge point open, turn on the water using the on/off valve. Monitor the purge valve, and when it is a steady stream, it's fine to close the valve. Turn on the distribution drippers, which will allow the system to fill. This can take a few minutes. Once the BluSoak hose has filled, it's much easier to adjust the placement if needed.
Insert a Blumat Digital Moisture Meter into the system, and keep the water going. Monitor the meter over the next few hours until the desired moisture level is achieved.
6. Setting the Carrots to Ideal Moisture Levels
You've installed each component, the box is well watered, and the water continues to flow. Now it's time to tweak the settings by dialing in the carrots. Working one at a time, disconnect each carrot from the dripper. The water should continue to flow out of the 3mm tube end.
Using the adjustment at the top of the carrot, turn the water flow down until you achieve the single standing drip at the end of the tube. Once you've reached a hanging drip, turn the adjustment back by two more arrows. Reconnect to the distribution dripper. Continue with each carrot until you've dialed them all.
7. Monitor Moisture Content
To confirm the Blumat Automatic Irrigation System is dialed into the correct level, monitor moisture content over the next few days. Ideally, it should continue to hold steady, according to the moisture meter. If the system needs adjustment, move the dial on the carrots by half an arrow at a time. Larger adjustments are rarely required, and can potentially lead to further problems.
Once you've monitored for a few days, the system is ready to operate without you. Take a break, go on vacation, and rest assured your raised garden bed is getting watered without the arduous task of touching a hose or water jug.
Raised Bed Gardening with Blumat Makes Gardening That Much Easier
The simplicity of the Blumat system is why gardeners love it. It's an automatic self-watering irrigation system that does the daily chores for you.
That said, the install is a bit finicky, and takes a bit of patience, which is why you may need to reference this raised garden guide. Take your time with the install, but then the work is done. Expect consistent watering, for bigger yields, even when you are on vacation.