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Linda Coyner's May Garden Edition continued

 How do I know what faucet-setting to use?
This puzzled me from the outset. Too much pressure, of course, can damage hose meant for low pressure. Start by figuring out your faucet's approximate flow-rate at few low settings (quarter turn, half turn, etc.). You can do this by measuring how long it takes to fill a gallon can at those settings. That's your flow-rate for that faucet setting. Fiskars recommends 1 gallon of water per minute for the 1/2" and 5/8" hose per 100 foot. For the 1/4" soaker hose, 2 gallons per hour per 10 foot length is the recommended maximum flow rate.

What's the maximum length I can run connected soaker hoses?
The standard advice is not to exceed 100 feet. The problem with extended lengths beyond 100 feet is uneven watering. At the faucet end you'll likely to get a lot more water than at the other end. Increasing water pressure doesn't solve the problem and can damage the hose. Waterworks and Fiskars Pro Series hoses seem to be the exception. Those brands say you can run up to 200' feet of hose while maintaining even watering along the entire length.

Which brands are made with recycled materials?
Fiskars, Aquapore, Better Homes & Garden (sold at Wal-Mart and made by Fiskars) are the ones I know of. Buying products with recycled materials creates new uses for old tires and recycled plastics from items such as discarded cable wires and old traffic cones. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, look for hoses that use no more than 60-70% post-consumer recycled material.

Are soaker rings useful?
The jury is still out, as far as I'm concerned. A soaker ring, which is fashioned like a fixed noose with a hose fitting the end, is meant for watering trees and shrubs or specimen plants. Its sizeabout 2 feet in diameterlimits its usefulness to relatively small plants that are just going in or already-planted ones whose head you can lower the ring over. A major disadvantage of the ring is that it monopolizes the hose unless, I suppose, you adapt the hose end with a splitter. I also foresee long-term problems. The plant's drip line is likely to outgrow the ring and plant growth is likely to make it impossible to remove the ring in one piece without cutting it.

Is there an easy way to uncoil a new hose?
I placed my first soaker hose in the bed with great difficulty because I couldn't get it straightened out before I started. Home Depot told me the secret: Stretch out the hose in the sun as best you can. Once the hose has warmed up, hold one end and get someone to hold the other end, and pull. Voila! It's straight.

What kind of warranties are there?
Apparently, weathering has been a problem and they've come up with this UV inhibitor process in an attempt to solve it. Fiskars is the only one I came across that offers a lifetime warranty because, according to the web site, of its UV inhibitor process. Seven years seems to be standard for Waterworks and Better Homes & Garden/Wal-Mart. Aquapore is vague and catalog descriptions simply say its hose lasts many years.

Is it possible to custom-design a soaker watering system for a bed?
Aquapore can be bought in bulk, in the 5/8 inch size, in lengths so of 100 feet. Then you can buy the fittings you needend cap, tee, elbow, coupler, or hose fitting. See Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, www.groworganic.com.

Resources: Fiskars also has an excellent Q&A section on soaker hoses on its web site: http://gardening.fiskars.com.

(Editor's Note: Fiskars is one of the oldest companies in the western world. The Company dates from 1649, when a Dutch merchant was given a charter to establish a blast furnace and forging operation in the small village of Fiskars in the Western portion of Finland. This historic Finnish business is now headquartered in Helsinki and organized into a number of business units.)

Read Part Two and Part Three of Linda's award winning series on water saving products for the garden.


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