Friday, June 25, 2010

No Rain = Watering

It has been a while since a good rain - a long while. Our gardens have been so thirsty and are showing the signs of drought: wilting, stalled growth, crispy edges, etc. The big challenge this month has been how, exactly, to water. Being new farmers, we don't yet have all the supplies of a larger and more established operation. We have some row covers and hoops, we make our own trellises, and we have our beloved high tunnel. What we don't have is a good irrigation system and with the small scale of our farm, it hasn't seemed justifiable to buy one just yet.
On the main property, through a series of creative hose connections, we are able to hand water just about everything. When we are short on time, we set up sprinklers (at night to minimize evaporation and wasted water). The rented lot across the street, however, has no water source and is too far to bring hoses from our place. We have beans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes that are pretty big and cilantro, chard, turnip, onion, squash, pumpkin, and melon seedlings that all desperately need water.
Our solution? Rain barrels.
About a week ago we took on the DIY project of making our own. We had a couple of large plastic barrels on the property and went up to the hardware store to grab $20 worth of plumbing supplies to kick off the project. We drilled holes in the bottom of the barrels and put together a couple of PVC couplings and a spigot. We even made our own gaskets out of a cheap sheet of rubber!
Here is what the spigot looks like attached to the hose:

We filled up the new rain barrels with water and trucked them over to the other property. The gravity feed works best when you can prop the barrels up higher than where you need to water. Luckily the property is sloped and there is just enough room on left-hand side to fit the truck. We do have one set of drip lines (hoses with holes every 6 - 8 inches to leak water directly onto the plants) and we set those up on the turnips while we hand watered the rest.

We were really surprised at the water pressure! We were expecting a trickle, but got a pretty good spray, even when the barrels were close to empty.
This has turned out to be a great solution for many reasons, but the best being that it was so cheap and so easy! It took about 10 minutes to put together once we had all the supplies. Watering takes a really long time, especially by hand, so we are still doing our rain dance but we sure are glad to have a solution to our watering problem.

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