from sky to seed

Inventing an irrigation strategy

I have a Medusa’s hell nest worth of past years’ irrigation equipment coiled into a nightmare in our garden shed. I’m not squeamish about bugs or rodents, but even I felt a bit hesitant to dive my hands into all that used hose all over again.

Dreamily, I’d browse the irrigation sections of the hardware store and fantasize about how much easier it would be to just start anew. Ah, such is life. I’ll admit: I caved. I bought 200 feet of shiny new distribution tubing. It was glorious.

But all the drip lines I have from seasons past are more than long enough and still in good condition, though they could use a good scrubbing to clear away some dirt smears here and there.

I have a better grasp of what I’m doing now, enough to at least know that I need to come up with a plan before laying down all that hose. My first year all I did was blindly grab supplies and hope it was enough and that it would work. More often than not, it does, but I don’t like driving at midnight with the headlights turned off.

Last year, I ran my drip irrigation in impossibly long rows that, I only realized later, required the water to actually move uphill in many cases. And I didn’t have a pump. I rely on gravity feeds and natural pressure bubbling out of our spring and down the decline of a nearby creek. So as soon as the garden was tilled and I laid out my rows, I surveyed the garden, trying to determine the ways in which water could flow with the least resistance. It was clear to see that I needed more main lines and shorter actual drip lines to decrease the amount of work that each hose needed to do.

I remember that during my first year, Jon suggested I bury the distribution hose underground to keep the garden looking nice. I thought that was a great idea, but the plastic was so tightly coiled that uncurling it was simply not a possibility and I just let it live above ground. The second year, I did the exact same thing, which was sloppy and embarrassing to look at, and which ended up being completely dysfunctional because I kept clipping the damn thing with the lawn mower.

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The best solution, it seems, is to just pin down the irrigation tubing with landscape pins and the occasional heavy rock. Isn’t that just amazingly simple? Isn’t it hilarious that it took me three years to find my way to that such a very simple and precious and obvious point?

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Anyway, I am here. I have arrived.

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