Our Irrigation System ... Simply Water
How simple can irrigation be? As I mentioned on our Farm Page, we are truly
blessed with water. Numerous springs flow into our small creeks which
run through the property. These creeks aren't very large due to the
slope of the land. The water just moves too fast, but this free water
provides all the irrigation needs at Blackberry Blossom.
So how do we catch it?
We've installed a couple of pretty good systems to take advantage of the
continuously flowing free water. The main system is fed from a small
pond. It's piped down through the main field of the farm and is used
for watering the "Compass Garden where most of our farm produce is
grown. It also irrigates the Red & Yellow Raspberry patches and
the large Blackberry patch at the lower end of the farm. Go to our
page to see details and pictures of this process.
I've installed a Drip Irrigation system in the Raspberry patches. This
drip system has a main shutoff valve and a control valve for each row
of berries. The valves are below ground and covered with plastic valve
boxes so I can mow over them. Easy, and simple too...
Each berry row is 50 ft. long so I ran a piece of 3/4 " poly pipe next to the
plants for the entire row. I purchased the poly pipe in 100 ft. rolls from
Lowe's. It'll cover 2 rows per roll of pipe. I've found that buying pipe
locally is a lot cheaper because of the shipping cost. The lower ends
of these pipes are fitted with screw on caps to drain them in the fall.
I installed drip emitters in the poly pipe; one on either side of each plant. This
system has worked real well so I'm planning to install the same system
in the Blackberry patch. I use a self flushing "Katif" emitter purchased from the folks at
. They aren't very expensive, are easy to install, and do a great job.
They sell a couple of doo-dads to put these emitters into the pipe. I
tried the "Miracle Punch" which works O.K. but found using the cheaper
and simpler Punch/Inserter does the job just as well.
Warning, Poly Pipe Tip...
If you choose to install a drip irrigation system the way I have, be aware
that not all poly pipe sold by the large home improvement centers such
as Lowe's and Home Depot are the same. After I had purchased five 100 ft.
rolls of pipe, cut them in half, laid them down my berry rows and
installed emitters in several rows of pipe, I couldn't for the life of
me insert the emitters into the pipe on the next row. I thought the
punch/inserter had worn out. The problem turned out to be the wall
thickness on this roll of pipe was greater than the others. This pipe
is rated for a higher pressure but was sold with the thinner walled
pipe for the same price. I simply couldn't push the emitters into it
and had to replace it. Now I always check when buying pipe, but who
Canadian geese, George and Gracie, regular seasonal visitors to the large pond.
There's a second irrigation system which is fed from one of our creeks. Several
hundred yards up the mountain creek I built a small dam. There's a 3/4 inch
poly pipe running from the water behind the dam, down the creek, to the
farm. About half way down, the water runs through an old water heater
tank I salvaged from the dump. The tank acts as settling filter for any
dirt or debris picked up at the intake. I have a valve on the tank
drain so I just open this valve several times a year to drain the yuck
out of the bottom of the tank. It's surprising how the pressure builds
as the water flows down the mountain.
She's gonna blow!
Before I installed the water heater tank, I tried a 55 gal drum as a settling
tank, but the pressure almost popped the ends right out of the drum! It
was quite a sight!
We've buried 3/4 inch poly pipe running from this system down through the front
yard to the farm. Hose bibs with cutoff valves are located next to each
of the plantings beds. We irrigate the beds using hoses and sprinklers.
Moving that free water out...
I've built several sprinklers by mounting an oscillating sprinkler head on
the top of a 10 ft. long 1/2" galvanized pipe. The bottom of this pipe
is connected to an H-shaped support also made of 1/2" galv. pipe. With
the sprinkler heads so high and the pressure so great, we can irrigate
a circular area about 60 ft. across. The flow remains continuous, we
can water around the clock if we need to. Now that's irrigation,
simply... water put where you need it.
Not to worry though, there's still plenty of water flowing down the
creek to support those creatures who call that home.
After the drought we have endured the past couple of years, the springs feeding our creeks really slowed down.
Then came all of the rain last summer and the creeks are flowing better than ever. When I look at the creeks now,
I always think; "I wish I had about a billion gallon storage tank so I could save all of that water for the next drought".
But if I could do that, it would take away some of the "fun and adventure" of living here!