Sunday, March 4, 2012

Raised Bed With Drip Irrigation Experiment

Last year’s garden was fairly successful despite drought and the incredible heat, but we only made a dent in our overall grocery bill and our dependence on the likes of Walmart.

For two middle-aged people who have eliminated almost all so-called processed food from our diets, we spend an awful lot on food. We decided to try some raised beds this season and to experiment with a primitive drip irrigation system to see if we can increase our yield to something like the fabulous gardens we see online, or at least do a little better this spring and summer than last.

This 4x9 ft. bed is made from recycled cinder blocks (our old single wide mobile home once sat on those blocks). The blocks are simply arranged and stacked (not mortared in place), and the bed is lined with cardboard (holes punched in the bottom), and filled with topsoil and compost.

The gravity fed irrigation system is made, as you can see, from a 50 gallon plastic drum. I drilled a 5/8” hole near the bottom, pushed in a ½” plastic hose bib, and secured it with a PVC fitting on the inside. It’s (miraculously) sealed with two big rubber washers , and drains via a hose connection into five ½” PVC pipes with end caps. I drilled 1/8” holes 12” apart. I haven’t glued any of it together yet, as I’ve still to work the bugs out. In testing the water distribution is very much uneven. I may have to lift the barrel higher to increase water pressure, and perhaps drill larger holes in the far ends of the outside pipes.

We’ll bungee a piece of window screen on the top to keep the mosquitoes out.

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