Drip Irrigation From A Surface Well

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This article appeared on The Charleston Rose, the monthly newsletter of the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society, Jan-Feb. 2013 issue, Editor – Rosalinda Morgan, contributed by William Prioleau, M.D.

Now, that it is getting chilly, it is time to tune up irrigation systems so that it will not be necessary to go out to water roses in the heat of the summer.

A farmer friend asked me to send him an account of how we irrigated. Here is what I am sending him.

A drip irrigation system from surface well, evolved over the years in our yard, is dependable, economical, and requires little maintenance.

Equipment

A one quarter or one half horsepower pump is adequate for gardens with 100 roses. The following irrigation equipment is available at ACE hardware stores: garden hose, water timer, filter, Y hose connector, adapter from the filter to one-half inch tubing, a roll of one half-inch tubing, a punch, a roll of one-quarter inch tubing, and an end plug.

Irrigation emitters that operate in the presence of sediment permit passage of four gallons of water an hour, have a plug that can be twisted or removed, and have a locking mechanism that keeps the plug securely in place. Such emitters are available from Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply (GrowOrganic.com).

Assembly

A Y hose connector is attached to a pump. A garden hose is attached to each end of the Y. One hose goes to the filter and the roses. The other hose serves as a runoff for the pump. The flow in the runoff hose is adjusted so that the pump runs smoothly when the system is operating. Smooth running of the pump prevents wearing out of the check valve which occurs if a pump is allowed to turn on and off rapidly.

An emitter is placed in the irrigation line near the base of each plant. To each emitter is attached a length of one-fourth inch tubing the end of which is supported above the mulch so as to make flow of water visible.

A plug at the end of the irrigation line is left partially open so as avoid accumulation of sediment. If the plug is closed completely, small particles of sediment that pass through the filter will build up and close off the last two or three emitters in the line.

At 65 pounds per square inch a hose has enough pressure to eject small particles of sediment from twelve filters in a line. If one exceeds a ratio of one hose to twelve emitters, pressure may be insufficient to eject sediment from emitters when irrigation is initiated. With more than a dozen emitters, additional hoses with filters need to be added at points along the line to make a system dependable. If one adds too many emitters to a line, twisting of emitter plugs becomes necessary to initiate flow.

Maintenance

When a pump that has been running smoothly starts to go on and off, sediment has likely accumulated in the filters, and the filters need emptying. Batteries in present day timers need to be changed once a year. Other than that, little else is needed for a dependable watering system.

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