Posted: 14/08/2014 at 11:20
Hi JLI & welcome to the forum.
I'm not sure what you are planning to use the irrigation system for. Is it for pots, a small bed or for watering the whole garden? If the latter - how big is the garden?
Anything larger than a tiny garden and you might be better off looking at professional irrigation kits. If it's just for pots or one or two small beds - something from the GC should be OK. In a bed you might find a seep hose better than sprinklers / drippers.
I have always used the Hozelok timers and they have a range to suit most needs. I found it better to pay a little more for one that allows more complex timing. This is because I prefer to irrigate beds for longer (perhaps an hour) less often (perhaps every 3 or 4 days). For pots I prefer to do maybe 15mins once a day. A lot depends upon aspect, temperature and rainfall but the timers are easy to reprogramme if you decide to water more or less.
There is a valve in the timer. Basically you set the timer to come on at a certain time for however many minutes you choose. On the more complicated timers you can set this for several times a day, once a day, or every 2 or 3 days - whatever you think the conditions dictate. You leave the tap turned on and the valve opens and then closes at the preset times to irrigate. You can override the timer if you want to do additional watering.
Regarding your veggie patch - I suggest you post again on the fruit & veg forum asking for ideas about how to start - you'll receive lots of good advice. You might want to consider doing your planning and making this autumn with a view to starting sowing in the spring.
Easier plants to start with include salad crops, peas and carrots.