I swear I won’t be planting anything else

Photo essay June 8th, 2008

A time-discontinuous photo essay

(Until next year.)

For one thing, I’m completely out of room.

After my sun-shade musings of yesterday, I got to thinking. On the north side of my house (the sunny side), there’s still room for a few more barrels. On the south side of my house (the shady side), my tomatoes are enjoying morning sun and afternoon shade. I read somewhere that sites that receive morning sun are considered part shade. Tomatoes prefer full sun, like the full sun available on the north side of the house (where there’s still a little bit of space).

Rather than moving the (heavy, heavy, heavy) barrels from south to north, Matt and I are welcoming new arrivals.

That’s a total of four more tomato plants, divided between two barrels.

Adding in more plants required a little bit of problem solving. The number one problem is water. The north side of the house is the driveway. These barrels are sitting on concrete, in full sun, with extra heat reflected from the fence. Thus, we’ve had trouble keeping the squash from drying out. Copious watering, however, brought its own problems:

Water and soil are running out of the (numerous) drainage holes we drilled. In addition to the water loss, I object to the fact that the barrel is, essentially, bleeding compost tea.

We had two solutions to this problem. Solution, part 1: Drill fewer holes (two, rather than six) and cover the holes with wire mesh screen.

Solution, part 2: Create gravity-fed drip irrigation systems.

You see, the only water faucet in the backyard is on the west side of the house, and it’s closer to the south side than the north side. It’s easy enough to drag the hose around to the original barrels, but it’s a pain to get it to the north side. Besides, a rapid influx of water causes the drainage woes previously described. Thus, I suggested and Matt devised a reservoir-based drip irrigation system.

First, Matt took an old water bottle and drilled a hole in the cap.

He threaded 1/4″ drip tubing ($3 for 50 feet) through the hole, and secured it in place with hot glue.

Attached to the lid’s tubing is a valve ($1.40), to adjust the flow of water. After the valve comes a t-joint ($0.25), to allow for watering multiple plants. At each end are emitters ($0.60 each), again adjustable.

To hang the contraption, Matt made a handle out of twine.

The handle hangs the bottle from the chain-link fence using s-hooks from Ikea we already had in our kitchen. The bottle is filled from the top (formerly the bottom of the bottle), where Matt cut a hole.

The hole is big enough to accommodate our funnel, to facilitate adding water to the reservoir (formerly known as a water bottle).

And then, voila! Drip irrigation!

Here’s hoping the new irrigation systems put an end to the water-runoff-wilt cycle the squash have been enduring all week.

One Response to “I swear I won’t be planting anything else”

  1. [...] Fill water reservoirs [...]

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