I run a small community farm, growing vegetables. The garden is set up in 50 foot narrow beds. I am wondering if I could buy some black poly tubing, punch lots of little emitters into it, and attach a hose fitting to one end. Then I could lay it along side a row, screw my hose into it, leave it for an hour or so, and then move it to the next row.
I have to keep everything really cheap. At the same time, I can't spend that much time hand watering. Sprinkler irrigation will all blow away and evaporate in the climate, and the tomatoes don't like it.
What you want is this tubing with integral emitters and it is $50 for 100' of tubing. Add in a $35 electronic timer and you have an automated drip system and that is some seriously civilized time saver. It helps to add a filter to keep out grit but it isn't required.
I don't know what I'd do without soaker hoses. I keep them buried in mulch in my garden beds, and I just rotate the feeder hose between them and set a timer for myself to remind me when to move to the next bed. You can get a 50' one for $15-20. If there's any way for you to get enough that you can leave them in the beds, it's very convenient.
The black poly is cheap ($13 for 100 ft at lowes) but the emitters get pricey. They'll typically run $5 for 15 of them and they add up quick. You also have to attach a pressure regular, faucets supply too much pressure, and a filter to keep the emitters from clogging. The little odds and ends you have to buy is what costs you. If you go drip do it right and spend the extra money to run it to each bed. Moving it will get old fast. Throw on a automatic valve to the faucet and the watering handles itself.
If you're planning on moving it bed to bed it would probably be a better decision to go with soaker hoses. I prefer drip myself, but I don't have to move them back and forth either. Benefit to most commercially available soaker hoses is they work with standard faucet pressure, hook em up and go
We use some of that black irrigation system, with the emitters. On the farm, it works best as a semi-movable system. One where we set it up for a month or six then move it. The big problem with moving it, is that the holes where the emitters (or emitter tubes) fit into the big tube, work loose easily and the hole gets too big, and then leeks far too much and either needs to be plugged or cut out and spliced back together. The cost of repair and replacement, not to mention the constant frustration, makes me think that setting this up as a mobile system, wouldn't work in the long term.
Irrigation that need to be moved more than once a month, we use soaker hose or water by hand.
[quote=Seva Tokarev]It is my understanding that soaker hose requires significant pressure. What do people use when watering from a rain barrel (which only creates 1-2 PSI)? [/quote]
I either use a watering can, a drip irrigation that is designed for low pressure, or collect the water at a higher elevation to where I want to use it - ie, at the top of the hill, with the garden at the bottom. There are lots of other ways to do it, I'm told, but those are the ones I use.
We have an ultra low pressure setup that waters all our gardens very well. The pressure at maximum is 8 foot pounds. running out of a tank on the ground. We bought the biggest roll of 1/2" poly we could get. and a bag of pigtails which are the black poly things the grape growers use to attach the poly to their dripper wires. Every foot we drilled a 1/16' or 2mm hole and put a pigtail over it. This keeps the ants, dirt and insects out plus it allows a good flow of water. We use this on berries, grapes and newly established fruittrees via a home made automatic irrigation system. The garden is manually operated. The fixed pipes are under the mulch and checked annually. In the garden, plants are set out at 1 foot spacing both sides of the poly, The pigtains are a couple of cents each compared to other drip systems that block or later fail because ants build nests in the fine flow restrictors. Hope this helps.
Paul, From down under
Failure is a stepping stone to success. Failing is not quitting - Stopping trying is
I got a bunch of used 1" black poly hose from the plumbers locally. It's used. They don't like to re-use it in plumbing because it's harder and harder to get a good seal on as it ages. So I can get it free sometimes. I also managed to score a gallon of 1" plastic barb elbow fittings, which can be tapped in and out of the hose with a small hammer. These came from a surplus and salvage outfit at $2.00 per pound. And they're plastic, so they didn't weigh much.
At the bottom of the hill, I have a pond and a 2" honda semi-trash pump, with a screen on the intake. The pump pushes water into sections of 2" black poly hose, also free from the plumbers. I paid for fittings to get enough sections together to go the 250' up the hill, about a 15' rise.
In the garden, I split through a homemade manifold into four 1" lines. I use the barb elbows to string together whatever I need to get where I need to go, even if that's 150' to get over to the greenhouse. The final length of hose is my emitter section. The far end is plugged, and there's a 3/32" hole drilled all the way through the hose about every 18", with the drill line rotated 90° around the hose each time.
I like to put an emitter hose down the path between every 3rd bed, so the four hoses can do my twelve beds, each about 40' long, 4' on center. I usually leave the emitter hose in place and if I need to water elsewhere, I disconnect my 1" distribution hose from it and move it to another emitter hose, or maybe to just pour into a cistern or pig trough or whatever.
The water squirts out of holes and usually makes about an 8' arc stream. Rolling the hose slightly changes the angles and how far the arcs reach, but the idea is to wet the soil well. There's enough organic matter to sponge it up and spread it out. Now and again I have to go down the hoses with a small piece of wire and poke each hole to clear debris that the pump has sent up from the pond. That's not such bad work on a hot summer day.
I use no commercial drip emitters. They'd just clog.
I'd love to have a windmill to pump water. I'd use a single 1' line and move it regularly to different emitter lines.