I’ve finished with all the automatic watering systems in the garden boxes and in the greenhouse, here’s a few pictures to share:
I tried both PVC pipe and poly pipe (also called “funny pipe”, really).
I think I wasted my time with the PVC pipe. It will undoubtedly last longer, but the poly pipe is cheap (500′ for $45), easier to install, allows you to bend around things and has a lot of fittings (drippers, sprayers, micro-tubing, hose attachments, etc.) readily available.
PVC on the other hand… required shopping for adapters not easily found. 3/4″ pipe has pipe thread, hoses have hose thread, it’s not the same thing. You need a 3/4″ mpt to 3/4″ hpt adapter. I ran out, so had to delay finishing the project.
The plastic bags were a desperate attempt to save the cucumbers. Immediately after planting these (and they were growing very nicely), it dropped to 40 degrees. They’ve now all died, so this box is now turned off and new cucumbers were reseeded in the greenhouse.
One thing I’ve learned – DO NOT DEPEND ON YOUR GARDEN TO FEED YOU. This is a huge mistake. Things can and do go wrong. This is why food storage is so critical. Farmers in the “olden days” always set food aside for a least an entire year or more. You have no assurances that you won’t lose your crops, or discover too late that you didn’t plant or harvest enough or lose it to spoilage (or other hungry mouths to feed).
My gardening / greenhouse intentions are only this: fresh fruit and vegetables when available, in season. Nothing more. I doubt very much if I will even achieve 10% of what we eat around here. The rest will be purchased or eaten from food storage.
There are also quite a lot of things you can’t grow at home, or never will. Wheat, rice, olives, beans, fruit, etc., the list is actually quite large (see Your Food Preparedness Score for examples).
If you still doubt this – go to your cupboard (all of them). Right down the descriptions of everything you have purchased to eat. Do the same thing in the refrigerator and any storage you have. Compare this list against what you actually grow at home. Not what you “will grow” (once you learn how, and make the effort), but what you “are growing” right now.
I did this and it’s quite staggering how little we grow. I’m making improvements in that area, but it will never be enough, not even close. Then, when you consider the actual nutritional requirements to stay energetic, healthy and properly nourished, you finally start to realize just how important food storage really is (or constant trips to the supermarket, take your pick).
Growing your own food is fun, enjoyable and rewarding. I just don’t hold any illusions about how much I can do. Especially when the zombie hordes start raiding my greenhouse.
This is a “button dripper”. Green is 2 gpm (two gallons per minute). Easy to install. A simple tool will puncture the poly pipe, you insert a barb fitting, force on the micro-tubing hose and run it to your plant. Install a button dripper, mister, fogger or even an inline dripper. Inline dripper are used in a series, from plant to plant, shown farther down below.
It takes a ton of fitting to do a large job. This is but a fraction of what I required (four times this much).
This is a 1/2″ shutoff valve. Each greenhouse table has a shutoff valve so I can turn the water on or off as needed. Easy to install, but the upper poly pipe to valve connection leaks a bit. I’ll install hose clamps, but it’s just a minor leak.
This is an inline dripper. This brand (Digg), found at Home Depot, is a red and black connector with holes on one side. It’s rated at .5 gph.
You can string quite a few of these together. The most I did was about 6 or 7 I think. I had good pressure everywhere (no pressure regulators were used anywhere).
Picture showing the elbow connector, barb connector and micro-tubing.
It appears you can use as many barb connectors as you like. None of mine seemed to leak.
The greenhouse tables have poly pipes running down both sides, or in the case of the sidewall tables, down just one side.
Aerial shot of the roof-mounted PVC pipe. Essentially, I built a boxed shape PVC framework with T-connectors to drop a pipe down to each table. This worked pretty well, I was able to center the entire thing in the middle of the greenhouse, using far less pipe then running down the length of it.
PVC isn’t hard to work with. Cut it clean with a cutoff saw, or use a hacksaw and clean up the “burrs” created with a knife. Purple is used to primer the joints, or you can sand them lightly, and PVC joint compound is used to glue everything together. You only have seconds to put the joints together after you glue, so have everything ready, press firmly. I’ve done a ton of PVC work over the years, and even more poly pipe, must be over 1000′ installed around here.
A “finished” greenhouse table, poly pipe installed, inline drippers, micro-tubing, C-clamps (left over electrical pipe clamps, which is why they’re gray).
Even harvested some young onions! Stored correctly (these are too small to bother with) onions will easily keep through the winter. We just now finished up eating all of last years crop of onions, which was pretty good.
The verticle PVC pipes are connected to the overhead “box” built, then connected to the poly pipe using hose connectors. No adapters are needed if you find the gray / black hose connectors (has a gray screw collar). I had to make several trips to get this step right, nobody had these.
A few more shots of how things can be done with poly pipe and micro-tubing:
Micro-tubing can also be bought as “drippers”. It’s just perforated micro-tubing. I used it here to water the corn rows planted in this box.
I’ve run out of plants to plant, so new ones are seeded in the greenhouse.
I even found the ambition to drop my remaining “problem tree” in the chicken yard. Discovered yet another rotten core to the trunk, so it’s a good thing it came down on my terms and not the next windstorm. The damage would have been significant, either the chicken house would have been destroyed or the fencing.
Next will be a new rabbit “shed”, expanded chicken yard and probably a quail run.