Rainwater Collection Powering Drip Irrigation in a Square Foot Garden

My rainwater collection system to power the drip irrigation on my square foot garden is working very well.  I have a 1000 gallon tank for rain water harvesting that sits approximately 20 feet higher uphill in elevation than my garden and the hose bib pressure is more than adequate to drive an inexpensive drip irrigation system. I was concerned that the rainwater collection would not provide sufficient pressure to water the raised bed garden so I’m very pleased with the initial results.  I’m very pleased with this particular use of my rainwater collection system.

 

 

 

Rainwater Collection Drip Irrigation Working

Rainwater Collection Irrigated Brown Wood Raised Bed Garden
Rainwater Collection Irrigated Raised Bed Garden

I configured a rainwater collection system pipe to my raised bed garden.  I planted my square foot raised bed garden with heritage seeds from a survival seed bank along with a few commercial tomato plants and basil plants.  The seeds responded well to the square foot garden approach and the tomatoes went nuts!  I allocated about a cup of water per day from my rainwater collection system through the rain drip irrigation system and that seemed to be more than sufficient to get the seeds to germinate properly. For bigger rainwater collection systems for your garden use, you can consult rainwater tanks experts at http://www.supatank.com.au.

 

 

 

 

 

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Harvesting Rainwater to Feed Garden Plants

Brown Soil with Green Plants Garden Irrigated from Rain Water Harvesting
Garden Irrigated from Rain Water Harvesting

Each square in my raised bed square foot garden has a drip irrigation emitter that is filled by harvesting rainwater from the roof of my house.  I can vary the flow of each emitter to increase or decrease the amount of daily rain water supplied to each square in the raised bed garden.  Some plants are doing very well but I planted some leafy vegetable seeds too early and the Texas Summer heat is not serving them very well. Harvesting rainwater can only solve a portion of the challenges with a raised bed garden.  The experiment with the rainwater collection system is working very nicely – a nice change from last year’s failed experiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Water Harvesting Drives Drip Irrigation Emitters

Black Irrigation Emitters in Brown Soil with Green Plants Powered by Harvesting Rainwater
Irrigation Emitters Powered by Harvesting Rainwater

I use a drip timer at the end of the hose from the rain water harvesting system to control the daily water flow into the rain drip irrigation system in the square foot garden.  The timer is set to allow water to flow for a few minutes each day at 6PM.  I’ve measured the flow rate controlled by the emitters with a gallon jug and the pressure from the rainwater collection system is adequate to provide an accurate water flow into my rainwater collection system and out to each specific plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Rainwater Collection Powering Drip Irrigation in a Square Foot Garden

I installed a rainwater collection system to collect rain water from the roof of my house.  The rain water harvesting system feeds my rain drip irrigation system nicely and the water pressure is more than adequate to power my rain drip irrigation system.  I planted a mix of commercial plants and heritage seeds and they are performing nicely with sufficient water from harvesting rainwater.  The emitters in my rain drip irrigation system are variable and the flow check out accurately. This has turned out to be a very nice use of a rain water collection system and is saving me quite a bit of money on my water bill each month.

 

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Rainwater collection is key to developing a semi-sustainable garden. Read about our first forays into a deck container garden and why growing your own food is a great idea for anyone here.

Rain Drip Irrigation Installed in Square Foot Garden

I really enjoy my gardening and learning more with my projects – especially as it relates to rain drip irrigation and square foot gardening. There is always something to learn. Yes, the setbacks are disappointing but there are occasional wins and doing and sharing these with my daughters is really fun and provides us some time together. Square foot gardening recommends that I hand water the plants every day but my busy schedule doesn’t allow for that. I also installed a rain water collection system last Fall and I really want to see if it is useful for garden drip irrigation in my container gardening. I added some piping from my rainwater collection system to feed a drip irrigation system and built a rain drip irrigation system.

Permanent Piping for a Rain Drip Irrigation System

Green Water Tank to White PVC Pipe Rain Drip Irrigation Master Feed
Rain Drip Irrigation Master Feed

I tested my rain drip irrigation system with a long water hose to make sure that I sufficient water pressure at the hose bib to drive the drip irrigation emitters. Once I determined that the combination of approximately 6 feet of downhill slope coupled with 10 feet of water column volume was enough to drive the emitters, I installed permanent PVC piping down to the container garden to install a permanent hose bib. My water supply for my drip irrigation garden system is now fully implemented.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain Drip Irrigation Drainage Valve

Green Cover and White PVC Pipe Drip Irrigation Garden Drain
Drip Irrigation Garden Drain

We don’t often have very cold weather in Texas but it does freeze occasionally and I only buried my water supply pipe a few inches under the surface of the soil. I don’t want a freeze to burst my pipes and destroy my rain drip irrigation supply line. So, I put a hose bib at the end of the rainwater collection system supply line so that I can drain my rain drip irrigation system each Winter. There is only about 150 feet of pipe so I think this simple solution will be fine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Splitter for Garden Drip Irrigation Options

White PVC Pipe and Green Garden Drip Irrigation Timer
Garden Drip Irrigation Timer

I installed a simple hose bib splitter at the hose bib of my rain drip irrigation system. I’ve had trouble with hose bib splitters in the past but I think I was trying to do too much with them. This arrangement is much more simple. I have one side of the hose bib splitter to feed my rain drip irrigation system and the other side feeds a very short hose for incidental watering as I need it. The hose bib needs to be full on to supply enough pressure to drive the emitters in the drip irrigation garden system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drip Irrigation Garden Details

Black Hose on Brown Sticks Rain Drip Irrigation Final Install
Rain Drip Irrigation Final Install

I used the separator lattice from square foot gardening as the supports for my rain drip irrigation master hose. Each square in my garden has a dedicated small hose and emitter. I can vary the emitter volume and count to supply a sufficient amount of water for each different plant type.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Drip Irrigation Full Installation

Green Plants, Brown Dirt and Black Hose Garden Drip Irrigation Working
Garden Drip Irrigation Working

The full rain drip irrigation system makes a very simple U shaped loop across the top of the square foot lattice and provides a dedicated drip irrigation garden feed to each square in the garden. I’ve come to appreciate simplicity in gardening as each time I’ve tried something complex, it seems to fail. Rainwater fills my collection tank and now provides daily water to my square foot garden through the rain drip irrigation system.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Rain Drip Irrigation Installed in Square Foot Garden

I tested my rain drip irrigation system with a simple garden hose and then installed permanent, underground piping to my square foot garden. I also installed a drain valve and a hose splitter at the garden hose bib for options in my garden drip irrigation system. I used the lattice boards from square foot gardening as a support for my master drip irrigation garden hose and then installed a dedicated feeder hose and emitter to each square. My rain drip irrigation is installed and working nicely with a timer controlling the daily watering times.

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Rainwater Collection and Rain Harvesting Improvements for Rain Drip Irrigation

I’ve finished the next step implementing my rainwater collection and harvesting to supply my rain drip irrigation system. I made a few improvements in the rain harvesting collection system and expanded the piping system to run a water supply down to the raised bed garden. Previously, I had installed my own drip irrigation system when beginning my container garden. The raised bed garden is over 150 feet slightly downhill from the rainwater collection tank and I was concerned that it might have insufficient pressure to power the rain drip irrigation system. I also needed to allow for future expansion of my rainwater collection and harvesting system by connecting multiple rainwater collection tanks into a single, balanced system for harvesting rainwater. Lastly, after prototyping the rainwater collection and harvesting system supply line with a garden hose, I needed to allow for a more permanent solution with pipe buried under ground instead of a garden hose running 150 feet to my garden. I was successful in this stage. The rainwater collection and rain harvesting improvements to power my rain drip irrigation system were completed without a single issue.

 

Problems with the Rainwater Collection Wash Drain

Original Rainwater Collection Wash Drain with White PVC and Brass Hose Bib
Original Rainwater Collection Wash Drain for Rain Harvesting

The drainage method for the wash collection tube in the rainwater collection system was a simple hose bib. The hose bib was opened just slightly which allowed for the wash tube to drain easily after each rain. This worked fine when there were relatively heavy rains. I thought this might present a problem for slow gentle rain harvesting where the drain rate from the wash tube was faster than the collection rate and the wash tube never filled sufficiently to allow water to flow into the rainwater collection tank. This proved true

 

 

 

 

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A Simple Solution to the Rainwater Collection Wash Drain

White PVC and Green Plastic Timer for Improved Rainwater Collection Wash Drain
Improved Rain Harvesting Collection Wash Drain with Automatic Timer

I used the simplest solution I could think of to fix the problem – a simple drip irrigation timing unit to control the outflow from the rainwater collection wash tube. The timer is set to run for 5 minutes each Sunday evening. This allows rain harvesting water to build up from a slow rain during an entire week. I can’t imagine that there is enough build up of debris on the roof that would warrant draining the wash tube more frequently than once per week. I guess I could remember to drain it manually each week but I doubt that is a sustainable solution for harvesting rainwater. This drip irrigation system timer costs less than $30 and solve the problem of too much wash drainage from my rainwater collection system.

 

 

 

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Initial Rainwater Collection Outflow

Original White and Red PVC and Green Plastic Tank Rain Harvesting Outflow
Original Harvesting Rainwater Outflow

The preliminary outflow connection from my rainwater collection and rain harvesting system was a simple butterfly valve. This served it’s purpose nicely to contain the rain water and easily allow for future expansion. It also allows me to easily isolate this tank if problems occur in the future. I like lots of valves – they give me options!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parts and Pieces for Rain Harvesting Flow Control

White PVC and Brass Hose Bib for Rain Harvesting Modification Parts for Rain Drip Irrigation
Rainwater Collection Modification Parts for Rain Drip Irrigation

The outflow valve system from the rainwater collection and rain harvesting system to support both tapping it to supply the rain drip irrigation system and allow for future expansion turned out to be pretty simple. I extended the outflow with a T connector for a hose bib, a T connector for a permanent pipe and another end valve. The hose bib connection will power the initial rain drip irrigation prototype and allow for controlled drainage of any and all tanks in the future. The second T connector allows me to make the rainwater supply to the raised bed garden permanent once I’ve worked out the kinks. The final butterfly valve allows me to control the flow from this single tank but also allows me to isolate the rainwater supply to the rain drip irrigation system in the event that the tanks run dry from harvesting rainwater and water needs to be supplied from the city water system.

 

 

 

 

 

Flow Control Header for Harvesting Rainwater Installed

White PVC and Green Hose for Garden Drip Irrigation Setup for Harvesting Rainwater
Garden Drip Irrigation Outflow Pipes and Valves Setup for Rainwater Collection

The final installation of the piping control system for the rainwater collection and harvesting system turned out to be simple and easy – both things that I I like. The valves on both ends of the piping control system allow for flow balance and isolation. The hose bib connection supports both a rain drip irrigation system prototype with a garden hose and allows me to either fill or drain the entire system from an external source. The additional T connector will be the head end of the permanent piping of the rain drip irrigation system at the raised bed garden.

 

 

 

 

Summary of Rainwater Collection and Rain Harvesting Improvements

The expansion of the rainwater collection and rain harvesting system for the rain drip irrigation system at the raised bed garden is complete. I’ve added a flow control valve to balance harvesting rainwater into the rainwater collection tanks, a hose bib connector for prototyping and additional inflow and outflow. I’ve also added a stub to make the rainwater collection and rain harvesting system supply of rain drip irrigation to the raised bed garden more permanent once the prototyping stage is completed

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