An over the top vegetable garden sprinkler and a Father’s Day present

Over the top vegetable garden irrigation—A well received Father’s Day present.

 

The garden got planted late this year-probably because of the preparations for the  wedding at the farm on May 14. About a month prior to that date, though, in a conversation with The Gentleman Farmer, Bob Hicks, who would soon be my father in law, I heard him say, “I wish I could figure out a way to irrigate my garden in a way that I didn’t have to get all wet and muddy moving a sprinkler around.” 

 

The Gentleman Farmer's vegetable garden--planted late but holds much promise

The Gentleman Farmer’s vegetable garden–planted late but holds much promise

 

Well, let me tell you, I latched on to that one. I could show off my irrigation skills and Sweetie and I would not have to worry about a Father’s Day present when we got back from our trip, so off I went to my friendly Home Depot irrigation department.  I chose the Orbit gear drive sprinkler head because of the ease of adjustment and because I have had really good results with it in the past.

Orbit gear drive sprinkler head, covers distances of 40 to 50 feet according to pressure

Orbit gear drive sprinkler head, covers distances of 40 to 50 feet according to pressure

I decided that if I made provisions for draining the system in the winter, I could just lay the pipe up against the fence on top of the ground. This was done with ¾ pvc pipe

Pipe along the garden perimeter will need to be drained in the winter

Pipe along the garden perimeter will need to be drained in the winter

I put a 90 degree elbow in the corners and installed a riser with a tee

Pvc pipe showing corner and irrigation riser for vegetable garden

Pvc pipe showing corner and irrigation riser for vegetable garden

I cut the riser to the right height and glued on a ¾ male adapter. I used zip ties to fasten the riser firmly to the fence.

3/4 pvc male adapter ready for the Orbit gear drive sprinkler head

3/4 pvc male adapter ready for the Orbit gear drive sprinkler head

The Orbit sprinkler head comes with a well written instruction sheet, a set of different nozzles, and an adjustment tool.  I didn’t read the instructions because 1) I’m a guy, and 2) because I’ve used these heads before. If you’re not familiar with the Orbit head, you may wish to at least glance at the directions. I set the heads to a 45 degree arc so that it stopped at each fence line.  The mounted head looks like this:

Gear drive sprinkler head mounted to fence for vegetable garden

Gear drive sprinkler head mounted to fence for vegetable garden

 

I installed a ¾ swivel hose adaptor to a piece of pipe that was installed in a convenient place near the faucet by the barn.  I hooked up the hose and turned on the water.

pvc pipe and swivel 3/4 by female swivel hose adaptor hooked to a garden hose for the sprinkler

pvc pipe and swivel 3/4 by female swivel hose adaptor hooked to a garden hose for the sprinkler

Oops, I had thought that I could get by with two heads in opposite corners of the garden, but I hadn’t figured right. It didn’t quite cover.  I had brought three heads with me, though, and so I added a third one.  This did much better, so I decided to add a fourth head

 When I added the fourth head, though, I didn’t have quite enough pressure to drive all of them, so we decided that we need to add a ball valve at the top of each riser so that we could run two heads at the time.  Sometimes it takes a little experimentation to get things right.  The four heads running all at once did a pretty good job, but running them two at a time will do an excellent job.  I assume that Bob Hicks and his trusty farm manager, Scott have already installed the valves.  If not, I will make a trip to the farm and do it next week.

I had to get a picture of everyone standing in admiration and awe while watching the new system work.  The Gentleman Farmer said that now we would have vegetables for the whole family and then some.

My new wife, Dekie, and new in-laws, Bob and Micheline Hicks greet the new sprinkler with awe, amazement, and admiration. Happy Father's Day, Papa

My new wife, Dekie, and new in-laws, Bob and Micheline Hicks greet the new sprinkler with awe, amazement, and admiration. Happy Father’s Day, Papa

Happy Father’s Day, Bob, from John and Dekie.

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To see an article on The Gentleman Farmer, CLICK HERE

 For an article on a wonderful portable sprinkler built from pvc pipe and irrigation parts from Home Depot, CLICK HERE

 Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

 These articles are brought to you by John P. Schulz, author of the novel, Requiem for a Redneck .

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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Build an excellent sprinkler with parts from Home Depot irrigation section

Finding the best garden sprinkler–build your own with parts from the irrigation department, not the garden department–by David Brown

Today’s article was written for Johntheplantman by David Brown who lives somewhere sort of on the road to Subligna, Georgia.  Dave is a writer, handyman, farmer, and guitar playing storyteller among other things.  He finally figured that if he could rebuild a flintlock rifle, he should be able to find a sprinkler that worked.  So, he called for information.  Here is Dave’s story as I received it:

David Brown writes this week's article on making a good sprinkler

David Brown writes this week’s article on making a good sprinkler

Someone once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  If that is the case, then I’ll have to admit I have been close to the brink of madness when it comes to my attempts at getting water to my vegetable garden.

When we started putting in a vegetable garden out here in the boondocks about 20 years ago, it measured a modest 20 X 40 feet, and it was no big deal to stand out there on dry summer evenings and spray water on it with a garden hose and a nozzle.  We were young and had time on our hands.

As time has progressed, my agricultural aspirations have grown, and so have the dimensions of the garden. A few years ago, I bought a bang-up garden tiller at the Homey Deep-O. With the advent of the tiller, I decided that I would henceforth plant my rows far enough apart to allow me to run the tiller between the rows and thereby keep most of the cockleburs and crabgrass at bay without having to bend, stoop, and otherwise muddify myself.  We try to grow our vegetables organically, without the benefit of chemicals or poisons, so we are constantly in combat with opportunistic weeds, and the tiller has been a godsend in that effort.

David Brown's beautiful organic vegetable garden

David Brown’s beautiful organic vegetable garden

The garden now measures about 30 X 90 feet, and we generally plant beans, corn, okra, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers,  maybe some gourds or pumpkins, and a few culinary herbs.  With the bigger garden, my need to get water on it when the rains fail has become more problematic.

I admit that I have kind of slowly backed into this problem without giving it much in the way of critical thought.  Early on, I would just pull a hose out there, water the tomatoes and peppers directly, and then set up some kind of cheap sprinkler and try to get the row crops dampened enough to make it until the next scattered thundershower.  This sort of worked.

The problem with cheap sprinklers is that they are cheaply made.  I tried a simple rotary sprinkler with the spinning arms, but these eventually clog up and slow down and ultimately stop spinning and just sit there and dribble.  You go out an hour later and find that you’ve created a bog in the middle of your garden and your boots sink down to your ankles. Plus, even when they’re working right these little sprinklers don’t cover much area, so you have to wade out there into the mud and move them several times every time you want to water.

So, OK. I remember when I was a kid I used to go with my father out to the UGA Agronomy farm to visit his experimental plots and they would have these brass sprinkler heads with the little flicking arms that went ‘tick-tick-tick’ and then would reverse direction and go ‘ticka-ticka-ticka’ and then start back across going ‘tick-tick-tick.’ I went to the hardware store and bought one of these that was just attached to a spike that you could stick in the ground and attach a hose to it. When I found it was too short, I drove the spike into a piece of pipe and drove this into the ground.  These work OK until they don’t, and then you have to fiddle and mess with all these little springs and levers and adjusting screws, and meanwhile you’re getting sprayed in the face and all soaking wet and finally you just fling the thing as far as you can throw it.

I wanted to water the garden, not take a bath.  This just won't do

I wanted to water the garden, not take a bath. This just won’t do

Then I decided I’d use one of those sprinklers with the bar with a bunch of little holes in it and the adjustable gear drive that spews out a nice fountain of water and waves back and forth. These cover a large area and work great until they stop working, and they always stop working. I should know, I’ve bought three or four of them.

The sprinkler trash pile.  These sprinklers just don't do the job.

The sprinkler trash pile. These sprinklers just don’t do the job.

Mid-season this year I came face-to-face with my approaching madness and admitted I needed professional help. I ruled out soaker hoses because these would be in the way of the tiller.  I ruled out burying permanent irrigation lines because, hey, I’m lazy and I’m cheap.  Finally, I consulted my good friend John Schulz (johntheplantman) the Literate Landscape Artist.

John turned me on to a type of sprinkler head the pros use, called an adjustable pop-up sprinkler. They can be adjusted to cover any angle of attack from 0 to 360 degrees. They put out a consistent plume of water so your plants are watered evenly. They have a minimum of moving parts, and they are inexpensive.

From the Home Depot irrigation department I chose the  Rainbird 42SA (S.A. stands for Simple Adjustment, 42 stands for the range).

From the Home Depot irrigation department I chose the Rainbird 42SA (S.A. stands for Simple Adjustment, 42 stands for the range).

You can get these at Homer’s D-Po, but you (voice lowers to a whisper) don’t go to the Garden section. You go to the area labeled “Irrigation,” and immediately you realize you’ve made a significant upgrade in consciousness and class.  Eureka.

The pop-up sprinkler heads have pipe thread on the bottom, and you’ll have to educate yourself a little bit on the skill of welding PVC parts together, but it’s all pretty much there in front of you– in the Irrigation section. Cool, huh? Get a fitting that threads into the head and glue this to a piece of PVC pipe; make a 90 degree elbow at the bottom; and then attach one of the adapters that threads onto the pipe and allows a garden hose to attach to your thingy, and, voila’, you’re in business.  Just read the directions printed on the sprinkler head and a new heavenly light will shine down upon you. No more crappy inadequate sprinklers that cost too much and don’t work for long anyway.

pvc pipe, parts, and glue for putting the sprinkler together

pvc pipe, parts, and glue for putting the sprinkler together

Here are photos of some various parts, before and after assembly, and the sprinkler head I chose. I like the Rainbirdã 42SA (S.A. stands for Simple Adjustment).  Right now, I have one of these heads set on a movable tripod left over from an earlier sprinkler debacle, and I’ve found I can just about cover the whole garden with just this one head.  Ultimately, I plan to set out three heads on PVC pipe and strap them on metal fence posts that can be driven into the ground and moved when need be. Maybe one day I’ll bury a permanent water line out to the garden and attach all three in sequence, with separate cut-off valves, and a timer and……..well, maybe not.

This is the best sprinkler ever!!!

This is the best sprinkler ever!!!

David Brown

Subligna, Georgia

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Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard?

Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 

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