How To Build Your Own Irrigation System

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Survivopedia diy irrigation system

In the summer time, when the weather is hot (actually scorching hot in some places), what can be more important than knowing how to build your own irrigation system for your garden?

DIY irrigation systems will save you some of your hard-earned dollars, and they also make for an interesting learning experience. They help you with acquire new skills and that’s a big part of a prepper’s way of life, isn’t it?

Now, irrigation systems are essential whether you’re growing roses in your back yard for winning prizes or what not, or, more importantly, for your survival garden. Hose-watering your plants is quite a chore. You’ll have to move the hose around every 30 minutes or so and then store the hose in your yard afterward etc.; basically it’s a waste of time and resources.

Today’s article is built around a few ideas about DIY drip irrigation systems, as they’re very efficient and simple. As a matter of fact, their beauty is their simplicity, like a Swiss watch. Oh, and they’re also dirt cheap and easy to build using readily-available materials. That’s a huge plus in my book.

Soaker Hose vs. Drip Irrigation System

Taking into account that not all irrigation methods are created equal and obviously, there are quite a few systems of irrigation available, let’s begin with the basics.

While soaker hoses are the most common irrigation method for “amateurs”, i.e. home gardeners, they’re rarely used in commercial gardening for several reasons. One of the reasons is they will end up costing quite a lot. They’ll also cause you more problems than they solve.

The biggest problem with soaker hoses is that they don’t water your garden evenly. Due to their intrinsic design, i.e. they seep water all along the hose’s length, the water delivered at the beginning of the hose will always be considerably more than the quantity delivered at the end of the line; that’s a law of physics folks. Basically, there’s no way of delivering the optimal amount of water for all of your plants using soaker hoses.

Long story short, that’s inconsistent watering and it’s a big no-no for your survival garden, as it leads to rotting in some places (too much water) and your plants dying of thirst in others. Also, soaker hoses don’t function properly on slopes because they’re not pressure-compensating. The maximum length of such a system is less than 200 ft.

Another disadvantage of soaker hoses is that they’re prone to clogging easily and that leads to even more inconsistency over time. When left in the sun, soaker hoses are also prone to damage, as they’ll harden (rubber doesn’t cope too well with UV light) and get brittle in time, breaking over when you’ll need them most.

To make things worse, the soaker hoses are also prone to bursting, making a huge mess and leaking large amounts of water. And yes, a burst soaker hose is pretty hard and expensive to repair if needed, especially if it’s hardened and brittle from sun exposure.

Just check out this cool video about soaker hoses vs drip irrigation; you’ll see with your own eyes what I’m talking about. On the good side, soaker hoses are cheap and fairly easy to install compared to drip irrigation systems.

Video first seen on CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY.

Now, talking about drip irrigation, these babies are built using flexible plastic tubing that features tiny emitters (holes basically) that allow water to drip slowly into the soil.

There are a few advantages of using drip emitters over soaker hoses: they are not wasting as much water as the latter, they’re totally fixable when they break, and even if they require some maintenance, many of the parts are re-usable. They’re one hundred percent repairable, which is very important in my book.

Besides the almost–zero waste of water, a drip emitter puts the water directly where it’s needed, with pinpoint accuracy so to speak. For example, you will be able to space them (the drippers) so the water drips exactly over the root zone of your plant.

How to DIY The Drip Irrigation System

Project #1

Now, let’s see about how to DIY a PVC-made drip irrigation system. Here’s an extremely interesting video depicting the advantages of a homemade drip irrigation system compared to regular flood irrigation.

Video first seen on Utah State University Extension.

This PVC-made drip irrigation system will help you save money, time, and water. A fabulous advantage of using this design is that you’ll be able to reduce water use by up to 75%, and that’s quite a lot, especially in a survival situation. All you’ll have to do is turn it on and forget about it, as it doesn’t require monitoring or supervision.

This system uses water wisely and you’ll end up with a beautiful garden that will provide you with fresh veggies for you and your family all summer long. Also, this project is not expensive: the estimated cost for a 15ftx15ft garden is under $50 and the time to build it is approximately 5 hours. You’ll only need ¾-inch PVC pipe, a drilling machine, and connectors/fittings. These are intuitive to use, user friendly, easy to set up, and lots of fun.

Project #2

The next project is about a small-scale DIY gravity-fed drip irrigation system. The complete plans for the project can be downloaded from here. Here’s a video tutorial depicting the system working and most of the DIY details.

Video first seen on Ross Lukeman.

The materials required for this project are dirt cheap and readily available; you probably already have them lying around your property somewhere. You’ll need a 5 gallon bucket for the reservoir, a drill, garden hose fittings, irrigation tubing, some planks of wood for building the structure that holds the bucket in place (you’ll have to cut them), and that’s about it.

For added precision, you can throw in a digital irrigation timer, which gives you a lot of flexibility because it allows you to do whatever you want. For example, if you want to water your plants every morning at 8 AM with a predetermined amount of water and so on and so forth, you can arrange it; just take a look at the video.

Project #3

Now, let’s talk about the easiest way to DIY a rain-drip watering system for keeping alive a relatively large garden. This DIY project is very efficient. It uses an electronic timer, a back-flow system, and a water filter to prevent clogging. It will help you with your bills and also with conserving water if you’re living in a remote area.

Thanks to the electronic timer, this irrigation system will save you a lot of physical labor, as it will basically automate the whole process and you’ll not have to water every plant by yourself. Also, this system is expandable, adaptable and relatively cheap, and it can be used with basically anything: flowers, veggies or hanging baskets. Take a look at this video and start working.

Video first seen on RedneckResponder.

Project #4

Last but not least, here’s an interesting idea about DIY-ing a self-watering container garden. The main benefit of a container garden is its efficiency, as the plants will draw the exact amount of water required from a reservoir placed below the soil; no more, no less. Also, there’s no loss of water through evaporation.

Video first seen on XoletteLife.

This project will provide you with better-tasting veggies and fruits, as the plants are free to use as much water as needed for optimum growth. The main benefit of a self-watering container garden is its relative self-sufficiency, i.e. you can go on vacation for extended periods of time. As long as you set the hose on a timer, the plants will take care of themselves.

The total cost of this project is about $50, so you’ll not have to break the piggy bank either. Materials required:

  • Commander 27-Gallon Tote
  • 10′ Orbit Polyethylene Riser Flex Pipe,
  • FLEX-Drain Corrugated Pipe with Filter Sock 4″ x 25′
  • Apollo 3/4″ Polyethylene Drip Irrigation elbow
  • Miracle-Gro 64 qt. Moisture Control Potting Mix
  • Apollo 3/4″ PVC Drip Irrigation Female Adapter

The rest is up to you.

I hope the article helped. If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. And click on the banner below to discover one amazing tool that any prepper should have for building what he needs for survival!

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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4 Ways To Help Your Plants Survive A Heatwave

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Survivopedia plants and heatwave

Plants need sunshine to grow, but when the temperatures are too hot, your plants feel the impact. They can wilt, wither, and eventually die from too much heat.

The best way to prepare your plants is to incorporate protection into your garden plan. You can look for local plant varieties that are proven in your area’s weather.

On your hottest days, you’ll still need to take extra precautions, but picking the right kinds will give your plants a better chance.

You should also plan your garden for heat. Sun map your plot so you know what areas get the most sun. Use taller plants to offer shade to smaller ones. Add trees to your master plan, and use the shade they offer wisely as you plan.

Even if you haven’t planned for hot days, there are steps you can take to protect your plants from a heatwave. These will help ensure you don’t lose your harvest.

Water

wateringThe roots of plants take up water and it’s delivered to the rest of the plant through a variety of veins.

It takes energy for the plant to get the water where it needs to go.

During the hottest part of the day, plants are expending energy simply staying alive in the heat.

They don’t have the energy they need to efficiently move water through their veins.

Mid-day watering may reach the roots, but it’s not likely to travel up the plant to where it’s most needed.

So when you water, make sure it’s in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are a bit lower. This way your watering efforts aren’t wasted.

Since the roots have to get the water, drip irrigation systems help deliver the water where it’s needed. When you water from above, it’s harder for the roots to get as much water. They’re competing with the other plants or weeds in the area, and with evaporation from the sun.

You’re also more likely to cause runoff when you water with a traditional hose or sprinkler. The dry ground takes time to absorb the water. If you apply too much water too quickly, it’ll get the top soil wet and then runoff.

Drip irrigation allows you to slowly water the top soil, and the soil the roots are actually growing in. You want to get that water about 18 inches into the ground. That way the roots can continue to use it once you’ve stopped watering.

During the hottest days, you don’t want to overwater your plants. Moist soil and hot days offer the perfect environment for a variety of fungi and other plant problems. Overwatering encourages their growth.

Plan on soaking your garden once a week, and always test the soil for moisture before watering. Wilted leaves aren’t always a sign that more water is needed. Sometimes, plants wilt in the sun just because of the heat. If your wilted plants look better in the cool evening, they aren’t in need of water.

If you find certain plants do need more water, you don’t need to water everything to save that plant. Just spot water, allowing the water to penetrate the ground into the roots. Applying water correctly will help your plants survive in the heat.

Soil & Mulch

Now that we’ve tackled water, let’s talk about soil and mulch. Some soil holds water better than others. If you have a sandy garden, you’ll probably need to water more often.

Take steps like applying compost to improve your soil, so keep your compost pile going strong to give your plants what they need.

No matter the state of your soil, a good layer of mulch will help hold in water. It’ll also help prevent weeds from growing. That’ll mean fewer plants will be competing for water.

You can use a variety of materials to mulch your garden. By using what you have on hand, you can keep your costs really low. Gardeners have used a thick layer of newspaper, straw, wood shavings, dried grass clippings, or cardboard to mulch plants.

If you use a light colored mulch, you’ll also help keep the sun’s rays from heating the soil too much. A lower temperature in the soil means your plants are more likely to survive.

mulch

Pruning & Fertilizing

A heatwave is not the time for pruning or fertilizing your plants. Both of these activities cause a burst of growth. Your plant will put all of its energy into growing, and won’t be as able to withstand the heat.

You also risk your plant absorbing the fertilizer too quickly, and burning as a result. So save your fertilizing (even with natural fertilizer) for a cooler day.

If you have wilted leaves, don’t prune them off until the heatwave passes. The leaves offer a bit of shade to the stem of the plant, and can help protect it.

Shade

Shade offers much relief to a hot plant. Shade keeps the direct sunlight off of your plants. It’ll also help them lower their temperature, and increase their defenses

For plants that are in containers, planters, or pots, move them into the shade is possible. For plants that are unmovable, you’ll need to look for other ways to get them shaded.

How to Create Shadow for Your Plants

If your garden lacks natural shade from taller plants or trees, you can easily set up some temporary patches using one of these methods:

Cardboard and Stakes

Use stiff cardboard and stakes to set up shade wherever you need it. You can cut the cardboard to the size you need. Then use a heavy duty stapler to attach it to your wooden stakes.

Pound the stake in the ground around your most delicate plants, and they’ll get instant shade. This set-up is inexpensive, easily installed, and highly portable.

Lawn Chairs

If you’re caught with an unexpected heatwave, you can use your patio furniture to protect your plants. Just carefully set up a lawn chair to provide protection. Because of the legs, you may not be able to use this in all garden setups.

If you don’t have any lawn chairs, look around your property for items that are easily moveable and don’t weigh too much. You don’t want to compact your soil as you make shade. Here are some ideas that I’ve used in my garden:

  • A laundry basket
  • A cardboard box
  • A plant pot

Shade Cloths

You can buy shade cloths online or in your local garden center. You can attach this to posts in your garden, or to stakes.

If you’re using dark colored shade cloth, keep an eye on your soil temperatures. If the cloth is too close to the ground, you can inadvertently bake your plants.

Paper Bags

You can gently pull a paper bag over your plants. You’ll want to staple or tape the end closed to keep it from flying off.

You don’t want to obstruct air flow for too long however, so be sure to remove these bags as soon as the heat of the day has passed.

Wood Lattice with Bricks

If you have a piece of wood lattice and bricks, you can make shade. You’ll want to make four stacks of bricks, one for each corner of the lattice. Place these where you need it, and then set the lattice on top. This method is especially useful for newly sown seeds and low crops.

What Plants Need Shade the Most?

If you aren’t able to shade your entire garden, you’ll want to prioritize your plants. Some plants will bolt if they overheat, while others may wither a bit, but will bounce back.

Here are some of the plants you’ll want to be extra careful with in a heatwave:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Cilantro
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli
  • Any cool weather crops

If your area is typically hot, you should hold off planting these heat-sensitive plants until closer to fall’s cooler weather. During the hot sun, plant your heat-loving plants like tomatoes, corn, and melons. That way you take advantage of natural growing patterns that each plant needs.

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Wilted Plants

Sometimes even with your tender loving care, plants wilt. It’s a reaction when the plant leaves are shedding water faster than the roots can get it up the stem. It’s a natural phenomenon similar to the way humans sweat. It helps the plants protect themselves.

Smaller, or freshly transplanted plants are more likely to wilt in the sun. That’s because their root system isn’t as established yet.

Usually, your plants will bounce back on their own once the temperatures drop. You’ll notice that they look normal in the evenings, and then wilt when the sun returns to high in the sky.

If your plants are still wilted in the evening, double check that their soil is moist. If not, give the thirsty plant a nice long drink to saturate the roots.

If watering doesn’t help, you’ll also want to ensure that you aren’t dealing with root rot. This can cause wilting leaves as well.

Is it hot where you are?

What are your best tips for keeping your garden growing strong even in the summer heat? I know our readers would love to hear what works for you, so please share in the comment section.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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