Friday, July 23, 2010

Water Drippers

What do gardeners do in the dead of winter? We dream of new projects...thoughts of horticultural prosperity.

My idea came one January evening this past winter. Susan immediately perked up when I told her I had an idea (likely getting primed to defend our acreage from another of my endeavours). She listened, with that knowing smile on her face, as I explained that I would like to move all our garden vine crops down to the orchard. The orchard consists of an assortment of fruit trees on about 1/4 acre. The ground slopes slightly, but at the top there is a level area about 8' wide, 300' long before the slope begins. Perfect. A place to accomodate pumpkins, squash, melons, cucumbers, etc. Susan retreated back to her book after I shared my idea, but spoke out from behind it's pages, "If you really want to grow crops down there, then have at it!" I bet she was hoping that I would forget all about my new found idea come spring, but I didn't.

Spring, having finally arrived, enabled me to conquer this area. I used a gas powered weed-eater to knock down all of the old vegetation. About every 6 feet, I knocked everything down to bare soil in a 4' square. Seeds were then planted in the middle of every square and hot caps followed (to create their own mini-greenhouse). Susan, watching from the top of the hill in one of her perennial gardens, asked me how I was going to water the new garden. 'Simple', I said, 'I will just drag a hose down and water them by hand.' Susan's idea outweighed mine though- a simple line of drip hose- much easier and less time-consuming.

Great idea, so, off to the local supply store I went. I told the clerk, Mr. Pipe, we shall call him, that I needed several hundred feet of tubing which had pre-drilled holes in it. "Oh you mean the black stuff", he said. Sounded good to me. Of course, after I got the pipe home, layed it out perfectly over the newly planted seeds, hooked it up to the hose and turned it on, nothing happened....nothing. Upon closer examination, I realized there were no holes in the tubing... it was solid walled. Back to town I go. When I re-explained myself to Mr. Pipe, he exclaimed, "Oh, you want the brown pipe, not the black one. The brown pipe has holes in it." this point it was hard to tell who was more confused or at fault: Mr. Pipe, or yours truly. Mr Pipe's next suggestion was that I buy 1/4" tubing. I could attach this 1/4" tubing to my already there solid walled black pipe and run them to the seeds, with emitters attached to the ends. Okay. I bought the parts I needed to poke into the existing black pipe, and ran the 1/4" tubing to the seeds. The emitters were hooked in next, then the moment of truth...

I walked the line to admire the drippers as they gently soaked the newly planted seeds. Everything looked great until I realized about half the drippers stopped dripping. I replaced as many emitters as I had parts for, then BACK into town (the third time if you are counting), to visit Mr. Pipe. When I explained the problem, he informed me that when you punch into the main tube, small flakes of plastic can float around inside the tube until they get lodged in the emitters. He further mentioned that I should open the main tube at each end and flush it out. With new emitters and a newly flushed out main tube, our new irrigation system seems to work. As the season wears on, I periodically change plugged drippers.

It seems to me that it wouold have been much easier to water this new garden by hand. Or simply to have started with the right type of drip hose to begin with...the brown one!


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