The key to any garden is the availability of water. Today I signed a contract to have a well drilled on my property to furnish irrigation and pond water. The irrigation for the permaculture project, and for most of my other gardens, will be subterranean drip. Yep, this is expensive. However, it will pay off in long-term water bills, plant loss due to drought or the heavy salt that is found in our water (the well should pull from beneath the salt penetration), and the replacement of sprinkler heads, broken PVC pipe and connectors for which my dogs and tortoise seem to aim.
As the plant guilds mature and roots and loam deepen, the less water I’ll need to provide for the gardens. The system will be there for the drought months, and for future unknown circumstances.
I have the luxury of having a little inheiritance to spend on having others install this garden for me. That is because I do not have the luxury of having available labor in the form of willing, available and capable family members, nor do I have the physical strength in my back or hands that I once had to do it all myself. And I want it done NOW, so that I can play with it, enjoy it, plant and replant it, watch the habitat fill with animals, and show others what a success permaculture can be so they can practice it themselves.
My real thrill is in my veggie garden. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a garden most of the twelve years I’ve lived here, and have been foiled by bermuda grass and gophers. I finally was able to nail together boards from an old bookshelf to make raised beds, then buy on sale some pre-made raised beds. I’ve stapled aviary wire into the bottom, leveled them, filled them with a mixture of dirt, compost and whatever else that could fill those babies up. I’ve used natural fertilizers and microbes this year to energize the soil, and ran PVC pipe to each bed with a riser and a split hose bib on each one.
Finally today I finished the drip system in each bed. (Yey! Hurray! Whoopee!). I’ve used drip irrigation before in the beds, with the long black soaker hoses perforated all over so that they ooze water. They say that they can be buried, but the mud cakes onto the tubing and gums it up. Also, to connect pieces you have to ram ends onto the cut ends which I have found really hard to do. Then you have one configuration of the hose with not many options for change. Ick!
I found another kind of drip hose (at WalMart) which is 75 feet of thin plastic tubing sheathed in a permiable nylon casing.
The hose is fitted with a male and a female hose end, and the whole thing rolls up. Perfect!
What I wanted was to be able to lay out drip from each hose bib on each bed that could be rolled up without a fuss when I’m working on the bed. I also wanted individual controls in the beds so that I’m not watering a bed that isn’t planted, or I can water half a bed and not the other half, or allow more water for crops such as melons and little water to crops such as quinoa… all at the same time! Complete control! Ease of use! Water savings! Ha!
Instead of using both sides of the divided hose bib for each bed, at this time, I ran one line in each bed. I can and probably will change that later which won’t be a problem, but I wanted to get these babies going! Since my beds don’t need 75 feet of hose, I lay down the amount needed then cut the end, tying a knot in it to stop the flow of water.
On the next section of hose I attached a female hose end, and moved onto the next bed.
It worked! I had to adjust two of the hose bibs that leaked, but with my trusty Phillips screwdriver all went well. I have two more raised bed frames that I bought to install, and I have hose enough for both of them left over. I still have a sprained wrist (I’m really trying not to use it much, and wear a brace, but there is just so much to do!) so digging and leveling the ground for the beds is probably not a good thing for me to do right now, and I sure have a lot of weeding to do in the front yard (left handedly!), so the beds might wait.
So I’ve conquered the gophers, and I’ve conquered the hand-watering and bad drip hose, but I am seeing bits of that darn Bermuda grass coming up in some of the beds. I swear that that stuff could come up through anything. I’ve seen it break apart asphalt, and also come out the top of a six-foot pipe. Horrible, nasty stuff. Fortunately the soil is so much better in my beds now, it is easier to root around and pull the stuff out from way down low.
Anyway, that’s my drippy story for the day. I’m immensely happy about my veggie garden, and slightly less panicky about the dry days cooking all the new plants in the permaculture garden if I’m not out there dragging hoses around with my bum wrist watering for several days. And I didn’t talk about peas once. Oops!