|This is a short blog about how to put together a quick, easy drip system for a garden bed. But before I start that I have to cheer for Habitat for Humanity.
I didn’t know anything about Habitat for Humanity until former President Jimmy Carter became involved in 1984, when he and his wife Rosalynn took their first habitat work trip to New York City. For the last 30 years their involvement in Habitat for Humanity has helped the organization spread across the nation. As of now, more than 6.8 million people have been given hope and a new start through the gift of decent housing, provided by the volunteers at Habitat for Humanity.
The idea that evolved into Habitat for Humanity began in Americus, Georgia in 1942. Koinonia Farm began as a Christian community in which the members of the community shared their skills and resources. All people were welcome, regardless of race, at a time when integration was strongly opposed. They weathered threats from the KKK, bomb threats and a boycott until society became more accepting. With threats diminishing, the group began a project to build affordable housing for their needy neighbors.
When the leading founder, Clarence Jordan, passed away in 1969 the torch was taken up by Koinonia members Millard and Linda Fuller.
I became involved with Habitat for Humanity when some wonderful genius came up with the idea for the ReStore. ReStores are nonprofit stores and donation centers owned and operated by local Habitat organizations. Sale proceeds from the stores are put toward building housing and developing self-reliance in their community. When I started packing to move into my new house I realized that I had accumulated an obscene number of extra hand tools and building materials. I donated it all to the ReStore. I really hadn’t considered purchasing materials from the ReStore until…
I am completing the work on my house under a strict budget. I save pennies everywhere I can, mostly by doing as much as I can by myself. Searching the ReStore for items I need to complete projects has really helped. And, I feel pretty good knowing that the money I spend there goes back to the community. These are some of the things I have purchased at the ReStore as part of my home renovation.
And then there was this, which was the start of my drip system project!
A drip irrigation system is a good way to deliver water where it is needed and no where else. They can be pretty fancy, connected into your plumbing system with zones and a timer, or they can be as simple as mine. I have a little garden along one side of my yard that is shielded from sprinklers by a big tree. In order to water it, I drag the garden hose across the yard. No big deal, but a sprinkler system delivers water more consistently and at a slow enough rate that the water soaks in instead of puddling. I used the black tube I bought at the ReStore to connect a line of drip sprinklers to an outside faucet.
Start by planning where you need sprinklers. There are a bazillion kinds of drip heads to choose from. The tubing I used passed through a bed of lily of the valley, under a fence and into a long, narrow flower bed of perennials. I had some drip heads that released water close to the ground that I decided to use in the lily of the valley garden and I purchased some sprinklers that are mounted on posts so that water is dispersed in a mist over the entire garden. I planned on using these sprinklers in my perennial garden. Since the tubing I purchased at the ReStore was used, it already had holes in it from where someone else had positioned drip sprinklers. I used “Goof Plugs” to plug up the holes I didn’t need and just reused the other holes.
The water released by the sprinklers should overlap slightly so that no part of the garden is left dry. The packages of sprinkler heads will tell you how far the water will reach. This will help you decide how many sprinklers you need to purchase.
Next lay out the black tubing. You can bury it if your sprinklers cross open lawn. Since mine ran along a fence and the side of my house I just lay it on the ground. When I am finished I will stake it in place. When purchasing supplies you will need to get a tube cutter. I suppose you could use a knife, but the cutter is not expensive and will get the job done neatly and quickly and without the risk of stabbing yourself! If you plan on going around corners or need to connect two pieces of tubing together you will also need couplings. Buy hose clamps to tighten the attachments at the connections. You will probably also need an end plug.
The couplings fit tightly. If you have trouble pushing them into the black tube you might try holding the end of the black tube in a pan of very hot water. This will soften the pipe and make it easier to push the connectors into the pipe.
Poke holes into the tubing where you plan to add the sprinklers. The holes should be tiny. Even the tip of a small phillips screwdriver is a little big. It is better to purchase a hole punch. Again, it’s inexpensive (around $2) and it makes the job easy to finish.
Finally you are ready to attach the sprinklers. They attach with a little barb that you wiggle through the hole you just punched. The barb will hold the sprinkler in place without leaking. Be a little careful when you do this, the barbs can break! Sometimes the hose compresses and it is difficult to get the barb in. If this happens you can use a pair of pliers to keep the tube from flattening out.
I attached a garden hose adapter to the end of the black tubing to run water into the system from an outside water faucet. I checked for leaks through the system with a screwdriver in hand. The only places I found leaks were at the couplings. I just needed to tighten up the hose clamps and my project was done!