It appears that the long hot Texas Summer is finally drawing to a close and it’s time to consider what I’m going to do with my deck garden and rain drip irrigation system for Fall. If I can find some tomatoes I’ll plant those. My deck container planter boxes really aren’t large enough to effectively grow leafy plants. Looking back on what I’ve learned, I’m also formulating a new, larger plan for next year’s deck container garden and drip irrigation system.
Survival of Drip Irrigation System Tomatoes
While my tomato plants did manage to survive the brutal Summer, they didn’t perform very well at all. Based on my research, it just didn’t ever get cool enough at night for the tomato plants, which are in the nightshade family, to produce very much fruit. This is the second year of attempting to make this work up on the deck and my efforts to cool the planter boxes and plants, even with extra water from the drip irrigation system, just didn’t produce enough cooling for the plants to thrive.
Drip Irrigation System Attracts Ants
It was horribly dry in Texas this Summer and every critter out there was looking for food and water. Even the ants, which I seldom have a problem with, came looking for water in unusual places – the drip irrigation system for my deck container garden. Not to mention the very hungry birds that robbed my tomato plants every day – despite the watchful gaze of my wire’s worthless cats that hang out on the deck.
Baking Your Drip Irrigation System Planter Box
The tomato plants were about all that survived. I occasionally had some weeds sprout in the drip irrigation system planter boxes but even those didn’t stand much of a chance in the heat. It was so hot that the sun actually took my drip irrigation system and baked my very good potting soil into a hard clay right in the planter boxes.
Headed to Cooler Lands
My next step in moving my deck container garden forward is to move it off of the deck and down to ground level right off the end of the deck. I’ve noticed that the ground temperatures are about 20 degrees cooler than the surface temperature on the deck. The plants should also benefit (or suffer) from a little more shade provided by the house and the deck. This should also be more efficient for my drip irrigation system.
Rainwater Collection and my Drip Irrigation System
In conjunction with moving the deck container garden to ground level, I’m also going to implement a very basic rainwater collection system to provide water for my house foundation and drip irrigation system. My Dad installed a professional grade rainwater collection system at his house because he has concerns about his well possibly running dry in the extended Texas drought. I’m having some issues as well – not with drinking water because we’re on a water system – but with my house foundation drying out and the house moving enough to crack the sheet rock inside my house and make huge gaps in the planks of my wood flooring. It is common practice in some areas of Texas to water your foundation to prevent this problem. I have a problem with paying for water to do this, especially during the horrible drouth we’re having so I’m going to attempt to implement a simple rainwater collection system to provide water for my foundation as well as my drip irrigation system. Yeah, there are a ton of opportunities and issues to figure out – not the least of which is “will it ever rain again?”. My plan is to implement the rainwater collection and drip irrigation system in four phases, each with a 1000 gallon tank underneath my deck. In this picture, you can see two downspouts that collect approximately 30% of my roof run off and they are readily available where I want to install the tank – should be simple, right?
Keeping the Dogs Cool(er)
My Dad made an interesting comment one day about the volume of water that runs out of his air conditioning drain. He claimed to empty a 3 gallon bucket 4 or 5 times per day. I was tired of seeing my wife drain and fill the dog swimming pool with expensive city water and came up with a handy little idea. I ran a bit of extra PVC to extend my air conditioner drain and moved the dog water pool. I don’t get near the 15 gallons per day that my Dad does but it’s enough to keep 3 to 4 inches of very cool water in the pool for the dogs to stay cool. They like it and I like it too!
Deck Garden Drip Irrigation System Summary
It’s been a long hot Summer in Texas and the deck container garden didn’t fare very well. Some plants failed completely, some were ignored and some managed to survive. Even increasing the amounts of water from the drip irrigation system didn’t seem to make a very big difference – you just can’t fight the heat. So, the next phase will move down to ground level in a attempt to find cooler areas and I’ll begin the process of collecting rainwater to supply the drip irrigation system.