Tag Archives: How to

The drip irrigation installation

Here’s more info on the drip irrigation.  I’m sharing this because of a comment (this is long overdue – sorry!) from the last drip irrigation post requesting more pictures.  That reminded me that I had a terrible time finding information myself on drip irrigation.  There is an excellent guide that a neighbor told me about at Toro.  It was way too detailed and technical for me, though.  I wasn’t going to be investing in tons of equipment, filters, pressure regulators, etc.  I just wanted to hook a few tapes to a barrel and call it a day.  Well, I just set out one afternoon and hooked it all up to see if it worked.  It did!

Here’s some more pictures and detailed descriptions on how I did it:

This is the 2″ threaded PVC nipple installed in the hole near the bottom of the barrel.  It is attached with JB Weld.  Then a brass shutoff valve in installed before finally connecting the hose.

I use garden hose as my supply lines.  Using a drill bit in my cordless drill, I placed holes where I want my drip tapes.  The above blue thingy has  a barb on one end that connects to the hose and a tape lock nut on the other end to grip the tape.  The brand is Netafim and I got them from Farmtek.  Each drip take has its own shutoff valve.

Another view.  I have noticed better performance where I set the barrel to be higher than the beds.  Gotta love gravity!  Using a few cement blocks or some scrap 2×4 shims will do the trick.

We are using uniform bed sizes everywhere, measuring 30″ wide and 20′ long.  Another benefit to that decision is that the feeder lines and drip tapes can be gathered up and reused next season as long as we make the beds the same size again.

After using it for several months, there are a few things I’d like to point out.  First, the epoxy breaks very easily.  At one point, I had a shovel or hoe leaning on the barrel and I bumped it.  The tool fell right on the pipe that is sticking out of the barrel, broke the seal, and the water began leaking.  Another time, I bumped the pipe with my foot and broke the weld.  Applying a second, heavier layer of epoxy does help strengthen, but I’d be interested in researching a new idea, such as putting a nut on the inside and outside with rubber washers sandwiched in between.  That would be much stronger.  That’ll go on the list of projects for the winter.

Another concern has to do with the potatoes.  When I hilled them up, I buried the driptapes.  Shouldn’t be a problem, I speculated, since this tape is designed to be buried up to eight inches in soil in commercial applications.  Those same commercial application, however use an irrigation pump to achieve the optimum amount of water pressure in the lines.  Using my gravity based system the pressure is much lower.  The lines in the potato beds are buried under several inches of our clayey soil and are pinched.  Some of the beds don’t have water going to the ends and the potato plants are drying out.  I’m resorting to hand watering for those spots and it’s getting old.

A follow up article was posted in June 2015.

Thanks, Robert

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Experimentation in Compost Tea

In Steve Solomon’s book “Gardening When it Counts” he shows a very simple recipe for compost tea.  Take a shovel of compost, throw into a bucket and then fill with water.  Stir daily and then apply to the garden after one week.

We’re giving it a go here on our homestead.

Compost tea is a great, natural fertilizer.  Ben Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  That applies in this case because compost tea is a superfood for plants.  Healthy plants grow strong and provide more nutritious food for us humans to eat.  Healthy plants are also better resistant to drought, insects and other problems.

This reminds me of an interesting story my boss at work told me.  The 2011 growing season was a bad one for apricots at the farm where I work.  A lot of preventative work had been done using organically certified fertilizers, fungicides and pest controls.  About the time the crop should have been ready to harvest (the trees were almost bare) my boss looked across the fence.  A neighbor had a few acres of apricots and they had been badly neglected for years.  No pruning, fertilization, or even watering was done.  Those trees were absolutely loaded with fruit!  It was as if mother nature was saying “you can’t outsmart me!”  Needless to say, we made drastic changes for the 2012 growing season.  We’re not doing anything but applying compost tea (a much more technical recipe and process to brew that what I’ve described above, however) through the foliar sprayer.  Guess what?  Now our trees are loaded with fruit!

Here’s to a successful 2012 growing season!

Thanks, Robert.