Irrigation for Raised Beds
Many thanks for your enquiry concerning the most efficient and neighbour-free way to keep your raised bed vegetable plot.
Although you are on the right road with introducing an automatic timer, an oscillating sprinkler is probably not the best device to use. It looks good in action and delivers a large quantity of water, but it isn't very economical or accurate and as you rightly point out, the droplets can be very damaging to delicate seedlings.
I'd recommend one of two products we supply; the Raised Bed Irrigation Kit (GWT-027) or the Soaker Hose Kit (GWT-115). Both of these products deliver water right where it's required - directly onto the soil surface - and both can be run off a conventional mains tap using sections of hosepipe to bridge any areas you don't want watered. More importantly, both can be used in conjunction with a digital water timer (GWT-740) allowing for simple and reliable operation in your absence.
The soaker hose is made from re-cycled rubber – I believe car tyres are used – and is porous throughout its entire length. It operates at a low water pressure and has the big plus of being the same diameter as a standard hosepipe, meaning you can easily connect it to a hose to get from the tap to the bed.
On most cultivated soils, the water will seep out up to 50cm (19”) either side of the soaker hose and extending your system at a later date is also relatively simple and in-expensive. Two pieces of soaker hose can be easily joined (in the same way you’d join a hosepipe) or you could introduce a manifold to your tap and run two or four hoses at once!
The raised bed irrigation kit works in a similar fashion but instead of seeping out water along its entire length, it features pre-drilled drip holes positioned at 30cm intervals. This system can also be extended as the tubing and pressure reducing regulator are both available separately. Aim to create loops 30cm apart when positioning the tubing.
I'd advise you to visit the respective product pages on our site for the complete lowdown on both kits and the water timer.
I do hope this information is of help but if you've any further questions or queries, please don't hesitate to either contact me or one of my colleagues.
Many thanks once again for your enquiry and I hope we can help keep your plants well-watered this summer.