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Irrigation Frustrations

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Irrigation Frustrations

Post  CitizenKate on 4/29/2015, 9:35 pm

@GloriaG wrote:I use an irrigation system made of 1/2" pvc pipes.  It is my grid as well as my watering system.  I simply cut and connected pvc pipe to make 12" squares and drilled several 1/32" holes in each. 



The system has a timer and is attached to a hose that operates from our well.  When it's hot I water about four times per week and let the water thoroughly penetrate the MM.  For me - that's 7-10 minutes at a time.

Right now I'm still watering by hand twice a week.

The system seems to work well and I like the idea of knowing the garden will be watered even when I'm not home.   

Hope this helps.
Gloria
I apologize in advance for this little rant, but I'm getting really frustrated trying build some kind of irrigation contraption for my boxes.

I've seen this and other similar drip irrigation grids made with 1/2" PVC, and everyone who posts them seem happy with how they work.  It looked easy and perfect.  I've now made three attempts to make something like this, with different holes (size and spacing), different grid configurations, etc., and for some reason I can't figure out, it just doesn't work for me at all.  Barely any water comes out, and only comes out of the holes closest to the water source, even with the hose coupled into it and the tap running all out.  The water that does come out just dribbles straight down, drains straight to the bottom and never reaches the nearby plant.  I still like the idea of this, especially if it can work with my rain barrels, but after reading all the posts in this forum, I don't see what I'm doing wrong with it.

So now I'm trying the drip irrigation tubing system.  I'm pretty sure I'll be able to make it "work".  Unfortunately, though my first attempt is not finished, I already don't like it.  For one thing, it's bothering me that it won't work with my rain barrels because of the amount of pressure it takes to force water through the emitter, which means I'll have to buy more of the water I use to water my garden $$$.  This also led to another $25 purchase $$$ to filter the chlorine out of the water that goes into the garden.  For another thing, the barbed fittings are a pain to get together, and the tubing is so stiff and kinky I can't get it to stay where I want it.  I've pretty much decided that even if I do get this one to work, it's the last one I'm going to make.

Ideas, anyone?

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/29/2015, 9:40 pm

I, too, would love to have a combination drip irrigation/grid system. Unfortunately, I'm about 1% as handy as most people here on the Forum.

To keep conventional drip tubing in place, you might try earth staples.  They work pretty well.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  ralitaco on 4/29/2015, 11:04 pm

CitizenKate, I am sorry to hear that it's not working well. I was hoping to make one in the future for my beds.

I am really surprised that the water just dribbled even with the hose connected. Have you tried to to see if you can get good flow by uncapping one of the pipes. I also know that they make a pressure valve you could attach and see just how much pressure is hitting the pipes, but of course you'd have to plug all the holes first.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  boffer on 4/29/2015, 11:48 pm

I understand your frustration. Rant some more if it helps!

I haven't heard of anyone having success using raised water barrels and letting gravity do the work in a set up like you're trying do with PVC. One option would be to use a small electric pump to pressurize the water coming out of the rain barrel.

It really sounds like you have flow restrictions somewhere.

But now you have me curious. I think I'm going to play in the water tomorrow!

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  Zmoore on 4/30/2015, 7:51 am

OH!!  I was thinking of trying something like that as a future "upgrade".  I already use pvc as my grid and as I was installing it I thought, "you know... I should be able to make this my irrigation as well".  Please keep me posted on the "trouble shooting".  I still want to try it, any "real world" experience and trouble shooting input would be appreciated.
Sorry to hear doesn't work with rain barrels due to pressure or lack thereof, I was thinking of trying that for a "phase 2 upgrade".

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  FRED58 on 4/30/2015, 11:24 am

Municipal water pressure in North America averages about 50-55psi. In terms of head, that's about 115-125 feet of elevation (check your nearest water tower for example). That's why elevating your rainbarrel won't work. Sorry. (A pump is the answer, but try your hose first to see if that will work).

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  GloriaG on 4/30/2015, 1:09 pm

Hi All,

We have our drip system attached to our well.  I currently have my SFG divided into two multi-bed zones of about 150 sq feet each. 

I use a pressure regulator to reduce the water pressure to about 15 -20 psi and have an additional valve on each bed to fine tune the pressure in that bed.  I adjust the pressure in the beds until each hole sprays about 4-6". 

When I built my system, I knew there is a direct relationship between the size and number of holes in the pipe and the water pressure coming out the "end" holes.  (The larger the holes, the less pressure left at the end.) 

So I made a "practice" 4x4 grid.  I first tried 1/16" holes but found that for me, they produced an uneven distribution of water - too much near the supply line and not enough at the far end.  The emitters I tried next were for a regular drip irrigation system and seemed to have the same problem - uneven water distribution.  (I have since found micro emitters used in hydroponics that might work better.)

I then tried reducing the size of the holes to 1/32" and found that they provided much more even water distribution all over the grid.  I also found with this test, that unless I reduced the supply line pressure to 15-20 psi, the water from each hole shot out as much as 8 feet and eventually the end-caps would fly off.

The pvc grids in my beds have between 4 and 8 holes in each square, with the holes offset from each other, and with one supply line for every 4' section of grid.  For ease of repair, I have not glued any of the joints in the grids and have never had any problem with them separating.

I suspect that with less than 15 psi. there would not be enough pressure to produce an even distribution of water.

Hope this helps,
Gloria

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  CitizenKate on 4/30/2015, 8:10 pm

I appreciate all the helpful replies.  Just to eliminate some possible causes...

- Water pressure from the taps here is very good.  I didn't measure it, but I'm sure it's at least 30psi, but probably much more when running full on.
- The holes I drilled were originally 1/32".  Then I tried re-drilling them to 1/16".  Same amount of water flowed either way.  I did put quite a few more holes than GloriaG did, about every 1/2" apart at staggered angles.  That might be one thing to tweak.  I'll try to plug up a bunch of the holes and see if that results in any difference in water output.
- Those who missed that I already tried the apparatus with tap water - I did.  Running full on.  Still very little water coming out.

I'll try taking off the end caps and see where water flows then.  Could it be drill shavings inside the pipe clogging the pipes?  I looked inside after drilling them, and they had some residue in them, but I figured the water would flush it out pretty quickly.

As for the rain barrels... if they can water an array of 18 sub-irrigating containers, surely there is some way to make them a suitable water source for SFG.  I've been able to hose-water the plants straight from the rain barrels... there seems to be enough gravity/pressure for that.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  ralitaco on 4/30/2015, 8:37 pm

Good information coming in. I didn't realize that the size of the holes AND the quantity of holes would make that much difference. I look forward to seeing how things go after you clean out the pipes and plug some holes.
Having read your posts on other threads, I am certain that you will figure it out.
One more thing, I know I read a thread on here where they were using a 5 gallon bucket up on blocks to water their grid. I will try to find it and post a link.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  CitizenKate on 4/30/2015, 9:16 pm

@ralitaco wrote:One more thing, I know I read a thread on here where they were using a 5 gallon bucket up on blocks to water their grid. I will try to find it and post a link.
Yes, I saw that a while back, and was trying to find it again and couldn't.  Something about a "water pressure trick" or hack of some kind... if you find it please do post the link.  Thanks!

I'll pop for a water pump if I have to, but not until I exhaust all the other possibilities first.  I'm trying to do this with as little public utilities $$$ as possible.  I know... my family thinks I'm some kind of kook.  jocolor


Last edited by CitizenKate on 4/30/2015, 9:23 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  CitizenKate on 4/30/2015, 9:19 pm

I just tried taping up a row of holes on a couple of the tubes, and the water output improved quite a bit.  That was promising enough to make it worth the time to get out the glue gun and permanently plug half of them.  Then we'll give it another go with the PVC grid.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  ralitaco on 4/30/2015, 9:29 pm

@CitizenKate wrote:...That was promising enough to make it worth the time to get out the glue gun and permanently plug half of them...
Glad to hear there was improvement by plugging some holes. I am no expert but I don't know if Hot Glue will hold for long. I may be way off on that but you may want to consider some Silicone Caulking. Also, I saw some "Goof Plugs" in the drip irrigation section the other day. I think they were a 1/4" though.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  jimmy cee on 4/30/2015, 9:38 pm

Glue the holes from the outside, glue will form a plug inside and not pop out, just don't put so much glue that it will plug the line.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  vortex on 4/30/2015, 11:03 pm

@GloriaG wrote:I use an irrigation system made of 1/2" pvc pipes.  It is my grid as well as my watering system.  I simply cut and connected pvc pipe to make 12" squares and drilled several 1/32" holes in each. 



The system has a timer and is attached to a hose that operates from our well.  When it's hot I water about four times per week and let the water thoroughly penetrate the MM.  For me - that's 7-10 minutes at a time.

Right now I'm still watering by hand twice a week.

The system seems to work well and I like the idea of knowing the garden will be watered even when I'm not home.   

Hope this helps.
Gloria

That's a really clever idea. Nice work!

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Irrigation Frustrations

Post  GloriaG on 4/30/2015, 11:42 pm

Thanks!

We did clear each pipe before we installed it.  The drill shavings can cover the inside of the little holes enough to block them.

Because each of our pipes is 11" long, we simply ran a stick covered with a rag through them to remove any debris before assembling. 

Every year, I "blow out" the pipes before I use them.  I remove an end cap, add an extension over the side of the bed and let the water flow freely to remove any winter debris.    If we have a hole that's clogged, we use a pin to open it.  So far, seems to work fine.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  ralitaco on 4/30/2015, 11:50 pm

Not sure if you saw this thread...
Gravity Feed Irrigation Grid

The OP, Cincinati, said he used 3/4" pvc and drilled 1mm holes.
He even posted a video (I had to open it in explorer as Chrome did not like it)
video

B00kemdano used 1/2" pvc



hope this helps

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  jimmy cee on 5/1/2015, 8:49 am

I enjoy Mel's method of watering, really does bring me closer to my plants. Only thing is I tend to do more than a cup.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  ralitaco on 5/1/2015, 9:18 am

@ralitaco wrote:Not sure if you saw this thread...
Gravity Feed Irrigation Grid

The OP, Cincinati, said he used 3/4" pvc and drilled 1mm holes.
He even posted a video (I had to open it in explorer as Chrome did not like it)
video

Here's the link to the post with the video
Again, I had to use internet explorer b/c google chrome didn't support the plug in

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  vortex on 5/1/2015, 9:35 am

@jimmy cee wrote:I enjoy Mel's method of watering, really does bring me closer to my plants. Only thing is I tend to do more than a cup.

I would too, but I'm inherently... well, not lazy but more eccentric I guess. I'm all over the place. Putting my watering schedule on a timer brings balance to my quirks and keeps the garden watered.


Here in a few years when it's time to replace my 2 strawberry beds, I think I may do a decent makeover on my entire raised bed. Using PVC for irrigation lines (which I had considered at least in part) but also as the grid is an excellent idea. Right now while I lay my stuff out on a grid, I don't have a permanent grid laid down.

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  sanderson on 5/1/2015, 12:49 pm

Kate, I've been watching this to see if someone could help solve your problem. What size is your garden box? Is looks like 10' x 4'. I use 1/4" drip tubing with emitters every 6". The manufacturer lists the max linear feet per line for each product. For the line and spacing I use, it is 18.'

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  ralitaco on 5/1/2015, 5:14 pm

@sanderson wrote:...What size is your garden box?  Is looks like 10' x 4'...
I kind of remember reading in one of the threads that they had a 4x8 box but had to make 2 separate grids. If you are trying to water a 10x4, perhaps you can try doing a pair of 5x4's.
Good luck

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  CitizenKate on 5/2/2015, 3:49 pm

Thanks so much for all the helpful info everyone is sharing, and sorry for no replies lately, I've been away from my computer a lot the last few days.

The photo I posted was of GloriaG's boxes, as an example of what I was trying to build.  My own boxes are just 4x4, and I've got 5 of them.

It seems the most likely problem with my pvc grid is that I put way too many holes in the pipes, and they're probably too big.  I mentioned the other day that I was going to plug up most of the holes and try it again, but I decided instead to just rebuild the grid so I can just put the holes exactly where I want them and make them smaller.

I'm also finishing up the drip irrigation tubing system for one box that I started on last weekend, which I do plan to use, now that I've come this far with it.   Sanderson, thanks for info on the drip tubing recommendations.  I have the main tube branching off into 4 paths, the total footage I have (all 4 paths) is 16 ft.  I didn't know about the 6-inch recommendation, glad you mentioned that before I tapped the holes for the 1/4" tubes.

Thanks for the link ralitaco, I did see it earlier, but just skimmed through it the first time, then couldn't find it later.  Would have loved to be able to see the video, but it won't show for me.

I'm still working on my next attempts, I'll keep you posted.  Thanks again, everyone!  I'm feeling a little more optimistic again!

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  sanderson on 5/3/2015, 12:20 am

I'm also having some drip irrigation problems.  The solid 1/4" lines off the 1/2" main line that in turn feed the emitter drip lines are just way to long to deliver much water to my newest beds.  Today, husband teed a 1/2" line off the main 1/2" line so I have a good supply of water to the box's area.  Tomorrow I will have to re-hook up the 1/4" solid lines to this new supply.  It looks like this but it will work:



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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  CitizenKate on 5/3/2015, 12:40 am

Haha!  That's what I think some of my projects look like.  The foot bone's connected to the - ankle bone, the ankle bone's connected to the - shin bone, the shin bone's connected to the - knee bone...  Or, does "Rube Goldberg" ring a bell?

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Re: Irrigation Frustrations

Post  jimmy cee on 5/3/2015, 7:33 am

Goldberg was a founding member and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society,[2] and he is the namesake of the Reuben Award, which the organization awards to the Cartoonist of the Year. He is the inspiration for various international competitions, known as Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, which challenge participants to make a complicated machine to perform a simple task.

I've made many in my days, still do, just can't help it.

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