Next week I get on an airplane and fly 5,437.37 miles (according to some sources) to London, England to start a first time ever vacation with my big sister. I know there will be ups and downs in this trip as we revisit our childhood issues, but it is certain that we will come back with stories. We will be visiting our niece in Oxford and then heading to Edinburgh for sightseeing and a tour of the Highlands. My sister is worrying about the possibility of disasters befalling us, while I’m convinced that I am going to freeze to death because the highs are in the upper 50s/low 60s and it’s raining — a lot.
Anyway, I decided that I’d try to make it easy on my husband who will be working and taking care of the pets and plants while I am out having fun. (Jim, I am going to bring you back something really great.) I am setting up an awesome, Rube Goldberg system to water the newly planted tomatoes and herbs. Actually I had hoped to skip the tomatoes this year but I gave in to the disappointed look. And after all I’m the one going away to have fun.
So I went into the garage and rummaged through the boxes of spaghetti tubing, irrigation timers, emitters, etc…. And this is what I found – nice job putting it away last time! (And yes, the little colored bits are bent paper clips that I used when I ran out of plastic stakes. They don’t work very well.)
Well this box was a bit better. I found bags of emitters, stakes, goof plugs, tees, 1/4 inch tubing, and timers.
After disentangling the old setup, shown in the first picture, I got out a box cutter and scissor to reconstruct the drip system.
If you try this yourself, remember it does not work if your hands are clean. A more useful tip is that if you place the tubing in the sun (always possible in sunny California), it is easier to wiggle the emitters into the tubing. I have two kinds of 1/4 inch tubing, one is more brittle and harder to work with than the other. Unfortunately I do not know where I got either so I can’t advise you on this. I would suggest, though, that you go to an irrigation store for parts. They are usually no more expensive than Home Depot and Home Depot has this annoying habit of having almost everything you need.
After setting up the long chain of tubes and emitters, I set to work on the hose end of things. It is really quite simple. You need an anti-siphon widget, a pressure regulator, and an adapter to go from hose thread to spaghetti. When I first started working with drip the emitters were not pressure compensating, so the pressure regulator was required. The emitters I use now are pressure compensating. I will test the system with and without the pressure regulator. Does anyone out there have any comments on this? I’ll add the timer later.
On my first attempt I put the pressure regulator before the anti-siphon thing and it leaked badly (no pictures of that). On my second attempt I switched the two and it leaked badly. I think that I used a pressure regulator with pipe thread instead of hose thread. In any event the pressure regulator is not exactly working right (see water squirting out!). Like I said above, I will test the whole thing with and without the pressure regulator.
By the way, you may notice that I am working off a hose rather than off the spigot. My spigot is too close to the ground to hang the anti-siphon/pressure regulator on. This actually may be part of the leaking problems. More on this later – hopefully.
So off to the closest supplier of these parts, OSH. Why don’t I ever take my own advice? Well they had the parts but I still think I would have done better at an irrigation supply store. Seventy-five dollars later and I’m ready to go. The timer – Orbit – is $35 and it is worth it. I have bought other kinds and they all break right away. These last a long time – years. I have used both the Orbit timer with the dials and the electronic buttons; I prefer the latter.
The pressure regulators and anti-siphon thingies are about $5.50- $6 each. I also bought a bag of emitters, one gallon/hour since all I had at home were 2 gallon/hour ones. The emitters are color coded. Usually .5 gph is red, 1 gph is black, and 2 gph is green, though different manufacturers may get creative and choose their own colors.
I then strung the emitters in the pots, set up the hose with the pressure regulator and anti-siphon widget, and started checking each emitter. Since I am using old parts many were plugged. I just cut these out and put in new ones. It is tedious but it works. I noticed that the emitters closest to the hose, regardless of whether they were 1 gph or 2 gph were dripping much more than those at the end of the line. To correct for this I put 1 gph near the hose and placed more emitters in the pots further down the line. Also big pots get 2-3 emitters while small ones get just one. The idea is to soak each pot completely during the time that the system is running.
The hose/anti-siphon/pressure regulator connection is still leaking pretty badly, though nothing like it was. Still I have to correct this. Next I’ll add the timer. Stay tuned. More pictures to come.