from sky to seed

Dummy Drip

Drip irrigation hose = magic in 1/4 inch.

Missouri’s been in a drought so harsh and so long that all winter, Jon walked around telling everyone the state needed eight feet of snow to make up for its rainfall needs.

Irrigating the garden hasn’t been too much of a problem so far.  We’ve had enough rain to make up for my laziness in moving the hose for our first irrigation attempt.  And while it may look like a wasteful tactic (a lot of exposed water evaporating, wasted, etc.), since we’re pumping the water straight out of the creek, all the run-off just goes right back into it anyway.  So it’s not a matter of resource conservation, but time.  It was taking close to twelve hours a day just to move the hose up and down each irrigation aisle and water the plants.

For a while, Jon kicked around the prospect of filling up the dump truck tank with water and then attaching a sprayer, and Levi, LJ’s son, suggested I buy one of those self-coiling hoses.  Everyone, it seemed, had a better idea for when and how to do things, leaving me in overwhelmed paralysis.  I’d wring my hands and do nothing except complain about watering.

And the days were getting hotter and drier.

And the tomato plants were dying.

That’s why it’s smart to shack up with a man who’s all action.  A few days ago, Jon came rumbling into the field armed with two Lowes bags full of irrigation supplies.

We set to work installing a drip irrigation system.  The name is pretty self-explanatory — but it’s basically a micro-tubing section that employs 1/4 and 1/2-inch hoses perforated with holes just big enough to let water weep into the soil without flooding the rootballs and knocking the plants over at their ankles.

Jon showed me the basics and left me to my work.  It took about a day and a half to install, mostly because I’ve been particularly slow-moving lately.  It’s been hotter than hell here lately (“hot as dog shit,” as Jon puts it), and the field is especially windless and sweaty.  Lately, wind at the swaying treetops that refuses to hit the field bottom is enough to drive me into a heat-stroke rage.  That and the bugs.  I’ve got chigger bites in a nice row from my ankles to my shorts hem on both legs.

And the whole process has also reminded me how incredibly absent-minded I am, which is frustrating.  I’ve lost two pocket knives, three pairs of scissors, and 100 feet of hose.  It’s all scattered somewhere around the vegetable garden.  Jon thinks it’s hilarious.

“Good lord!” he cried, surveying the field.  “You’ve got hose over here, your goof plugs over there, the hose punch on the tank…”

I’ve been known to leave the house keys next to the milk.  In the refrigerator.  It’s a habit I’ve tried, for years, to break.  No success.

In a few weeks or so, I’ll be harvesting squash only to find the kitchen shears shading under a leaf or something.

Luckily, Pax doesn’t judge.

Pax, hard at work.

Pax, hard at work.

Our system runs 24-hours a day on the same pump and generator used with our early hose strategy.  The generator/pump fills a huge tank, and then we alternate between gravity feeding (for days when I’m not around to monitor everything) and the pump to push the water out. Ideally, I’d like to get the system set up to do a 24-hour gravity feed, but because the tank and field are currently level, the water just barely reaches the far end of the rows.  In time, we’ll figure out a way to elevate the tank.

“Just stick that thing on a hay round,” Jon says.

Right.  Easier said than done.

But for now?  Very happy farmer, very happy plants.

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