Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Watering System

So, it's in the middle of winter, 12° (-11 C°) outside, with several inches of snow and more on the way. All this adds up to me thinking about the garden again. I was going through my pictures and found a few that I took this summer of the watering system. So I'm going to show you what we use to water our little front yard garden.

You can see the markings for where to drill
the holes as well as a few tiney holes
To start off, I had to put in an automatic watering system. I just know that I don't have time each day to stand there and water everything by hand, plus when I run a sprinkler system I usually forget it and leave it on way too long. So a timing system was high on my priority list. So, we rented a trencher and buried the pipe.  

The drilled sprinkler pipe threaded into the regular
PVC riser laying on top of a small block "riser"
I decided to use the system designed and perfected by Jacob Mittleider. This system uses the thin walled (cheaper and less clogging) 3/4 inch PVC pipe with holes drilled in it. The holes are made with a #57 drill bit -think Heinz 57. There are three holes drilled every four inches down the pipe. The first hole is straight down and the other two are 45° on either side so that you end up with 90° of spray. The pipe is raised off the ground using 6” long pieces of 2x4 lumber. A couple of finish nails sticking up on either side of the pipe keeps it from sliding off the wood. These risers are spaced about every 4 to 5 feet down the grow bed. This will give you about 12 -16 inches of spray, so should only be used in narrow 18” wide grow beds/boxes.

Rain sensor mounted on the pergola

The Central Utah Water Conservancy District has a program where you can receive a rebate for certain parts of an energy efficient watering system. Luckily the nice lady on the other end of the phone was familiar with the Mittleider watering system and was willing to qualify it for the rebate. This meant that I had to install a rain sensor (she later told me that I should have bought a different kind, but she let it slide). It ended up only raining once or twice after I put the sensor in anyway, but I’m sure it will be useful this year. After the rebate the whole system cost me about $225. Not too shabby for how extensive it is.

12 valves before I put in the gravel underneath
and the boxes above

At my friend’s house we put this system in and found that we could only put about 20 feet of pipe in each zone. After that the pressure died off and the end of the row wouldn’t get enough water. At my house, that ended up being overkill. I ended up putting in 12 zones, but could have probably gotten away with only putting in 8 or so.

Control boxes with the receiver for the rain sensor
I have the timer set up to water every day, but I only run it for one minute each zone (three minutes in the hottest part of the summer). I have found that this gives the plants all the water they need. But the best thing by far about the automated watering system is that I don’t have to do anything in my garden but prune, weed, fertilize, and harvest. I can even go on vacation and not worry about it. Now that’s the kind of garden I like!

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