Before I get into today’s topic, those of you in the Shoals who asked where they could find the Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes, I found a source of plants; Coldwater Seed and Feed in Tuscumbia has them in their back lot. He also had an heirloom called Black Prince that I’m trying this year.
As one who had back surgery and a knee replacement at a young age, I found it very tiring dragging around very long lenghts of hose to water plants away from the house. I first used this system at my last house in Muscle Shoals City when I had my raised bed garden at the end of the house opposite the facuet. After building on my 3 acres I installed the system at this house. One mistake that I made is using half inch lines. With three and a half acres I should have used 3/4 inch lines. You loose a lot of pressure with a long system and have more than one facuet on. This system can only be used during the summer. When freezing weather starts, you need to disconnect the line from the facuet on the side of the house and open all facuets along the lines. I had one PCV pipe with a facuet that I missed this past winter and the PCV pipe leading to the facuet shatered big time. I don’t recommend using lengths of PCV pipe instead of the plastic tubing. It gets brittle and after the first year of being out in the sun and will break when stepped on.
Start with high pressure black water line plastic pipe. Attach to the house with a heavy duty screw on fiting. I use a hundred foot roll and put a facuet fiting between the first and next roll so that by using a 50 foot hose you can reach the area between the two. You can get the pipe in longer or shorter lengths. Do not use the black pipe for running soaker hose lines. There are in line facuet,T, Y, corner and end fitings with a facuet end, but I found these end pieces to be fragile and usually use a 90 degree metal fitting at the end of the line with a facuet. You can use the T’s or Y fitting to branch off to differnt areas of the garden. The ninty degee angle fitings are useful to go around corners. Also helpful will be to have some in line staight fittings as in my case the first time I stick a shovel in the ground I cut the only line in an acre. In lawn areas I have the line an inch or 2 under the ground. Also helpful in a large garden is cut offs. If you have a damaged line to one area you can cut off that line until repairs while still using the other areas. You will need lengths of PCV pipe or metal pipe and facuets in the same size as the water line pipe. You might want to use the metal pipe in areas where you’ll be using a weed eater as you will see in one of my pictures where I got too close with” Big Berta” my walk behind weed eater.
First you need a end fiting to attach the line to a facuet similar to one in the picture. Run the pipe to your first spot you need a facuet, cut the pipe if needed, be sure to put a radiator clamp on first before putting in the facuet. Putting vaseline on the fitting and placing the end of the pipe in hot water for a minute or so makes it easier to put the fiting on the pipe. On the other side before attaching the next length of pipe place another radiator clamp and put the pipe on the fiting. Screw in a facuet assembly using teflon tape on the threads for a better water seal and continue on. I use a 24 or 36 inch lenght of rebar driven in the ground next to the facuet and use a plastic electrical tie to attach the pipe to the rebar to add stability. You can buy the rebar in these lengths in the concrete section of your local hardware store.
One hint about running the line through lawn areas, do it before the grass grows thick and after a rain. Use a flat blade hoe and stab it in the ground and rock back and forth and continue until the trench is open. Take the pipe and push in your small trench. In the bottom field I have the luxury of a middle buster that I bought to line the wiring for my underground fence to keep the dogs in. While I had the trench open along the creek, I ran the pipe next to the wire. I found an old kitchen sink that some one had thrown out and I made a frame for it, which is just about ready to be replaced and use it to wash off my veggies before bringing them into the house. I’m a little embarrassed to show that picture. This is one bed that I haven’t gotten to for cleaning.
After you have all the lines in, tightened up all of your radiator clamps, turn on the water and enjoy.
I can’t stress enough to disconnect the line from the house when cold weather hits and open all facuets along the lines.