Saturday, April 27, 2013

Drip irrigation experiment.

I've been using an oscillating sprinkler on a timer to water my gardens.  This generally happens while I'm at work.  It came one over the weekend while I was home.  I realized that I was watering half of my driveway along with my plants.  A whole lot of water is being wasted. 

Drip irrigation is much more efficient.  It gets the water directly to the plants that need it.  I already had some irrigation tubing so I decided to test some of it in the raised beds.  Now, I have to mention here that I have never read a thing about drip irrigation systems.  I just figured, "How hard can it be?"  My plan was to run a piece of tubing along the 4' side of the bed and have 3 branches come off of it that run the length of the bed.  So that's what I did.  I used some T-fittings and right-angle fittings.  I drilled holes in the irrigation tubing.  Then I proceeded to hook up the garden hose to it using a barbed adapter and a FHT to FPT adapter. (These are the same parts I used when connecting my rain barrels.) 

I did not get the results that I wanted.  The pressure was way too high.  Rather than having water drip near the plants, it was shooting 5-6 feet into the air.  Whoops.

Plan B.  I got a 5-gallon bucket and attached the irrigation tubing to it.  I did this by first drilling a hole big enough for a Uniseal and inserting a PVC pipe.  Then I used a slip to FPT adapter and the same barb adapter mentioned above. 

The 5-gallon bucket allowed me to simulate drip irrigation using my rain barrels as the source (which I eventually intend to do).  I didn't for this experiment since they still smelled like bleach.

Using the bucket was better, but it did not give me my desired results.  All of the water appear to flow down the closest branch.  Very little water made it to the other two branches.  So I got on google and found this"Gravity flow systems tend to have extremely low water pressure which creates problems with emitter operation and a lack of watering uniformity."  Yeah, no kidding.

Plan C.  Instead of using multiple lines and connections, I put down a single line of tubing. 

This actually worked pretty well.  I had water coming out of every hole that I drilled.

I need to get more irrigation tubing for the other beds.  I'm hoping that I can connect all of the beds together and not run into the problems that I saw initially with the water taking the easiest path.

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