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.

 

 

 

 

 

[ad#DCG Rectangle]

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.

 

[ad#DCG Narrow Links]

[sc:catlinks]

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 Water Collection for a Rain Drip Irrigation System

Spring has arrived in Texas and I’m excited to try a new adventure using my rain water collection system to power a rain drip irrigation system with a new planting and management approach from Square Foot Gardening.  My past two years of experiments with a deck container garden and a rain drip irrigation garden have failed due to the very high temperatures up on the deck.  I’m going to move the deck container garden containers down to the ground level and also restart my raised bed garden from several years ago.  I’m going to experiment and rig up my rain water collection system to power a rain drip irrigation system for both the deck container garden and the raised bed garden. I have a lot to do and learn about rain drip irrigation systems!

The Old Deck Container Garden – Too Hot!

Drip Irrigation Garden from Previous Year on a Deck
Drip Irrigation Garden

The six deck garden containers and cages have gone fallow over the winter.  Weeds have taken them over as well.  They are very heavy even though they are not completely filled with soil and moving them back to ground level will be an adventure.  Additionally, the containers are over two years old and showing signs of decay – they may not make the trip down to ground level.  These drip irrigation garden containers use a regular, hose bib powered, drip irrigation system and I’ve wanted to develop a rain drip irrigation system for a couple of year – now is the time.

 

 

 

 

[ad#DCG Narrow Links]

 

Ground Level Deck Container Garden

New Location Under Deck for Garden Drip Irrigation
New Location for Garden Drip Irrigation System

This is the new location for the rain drip irrigation garden.  It is still very close to the deck and right at the bottom of the stairs but has the advantage of being on ground level and also having some shade from the deck and trees.  I’m not sure how the additional shade from the rain drip irrigation system might impact the plants in this location but I do know that the soil temperature will be cooler than it was on the deck.  It is also only about 25 feet away from the rain water collection system so it should be easy to rig for a rain drip irrigation system.

 

 

 

 

[ad#DCG Rectangle]

 

Source of the Rain Water Collection and Rain Drip Irrigation

Start of Rain Drip Irrigation System with Green Tank
Start of Rain Drip Irrigation System

supatank banner01This is my home made rain water collection system which I will use to power my rain drip irrigation system.  Drip irrigation systems in drip irrigation garden require hose bib level pressure and I’m just betting that a nearly full tank of rain water will provide enough pressure to simulate hose bib pressure and sufficiently power my rain drip irrigation system.  I have quite a bit of work to do to get this setup properly. The rain water collection system also needs some additional work on the filter pipe discharge.  The filter pipe catches the initial roof wash and based on Pie R Squared Math it holds approximately 138 gallons.  The approximate rain water catch area on the roof for this tank is 690 square feet which produces 379 gallons per inch of rain.  The tank is 1000 gallons so it only takes a 3 inch rain to fill it.  However, that means that it requires 0.15 inches of rain to completely fill the filter pipe and if the filter pipe drains constantly that means that I have the potential to waste a lot of small rains.  Additionally, the roof does not need to be washed with each rain so I can improve my system by putting a flow timer on the drain outlet of the filter pipe.  More on that later…..

 

 

 

Raised Bed Garden and Long Distance Rain Drip Irrigation

Raised Bed Garden in a Field of Green Weeds
Raised Bed Garden

This is the old raised bed garden and it hasn’t been used in over 5 years.  It is 8 feet by 4 feet by 1 foot high and contains gravel and a drain pipe in the bottom.  It will work perfectly for the square foot gardening methodology but needs some serious work to get it in shape.  In the past, I’ve felt a little pressured to get the garden in for the start of the growing season but the square foot gardening techniques seem to make the timing of planting much less important.  I also have quite a bit of work running a water pipe 150 feet from the rain water collection system to power this rain drip irrigation system down at the raised bed garden to turn it into a drip irrigation garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Garden Book
Square Foot Garden Book

I recently purchased a copy of Square Foot Gardening and really like the approach even though he does not advocate using a rain drip irrigation system.  He writes from the standpoint of loving gardening and I work from the standpoint of loving the results with as little effort as possible.  Nevertheless, I do like his approach and am excited to give it a try this year in conjunction with using my rain water collection system to power my rain drip irrigation system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Rain Water Collection to Power Rain Drip Irrigation

Spring has sprung and it’s time to get busy harnessing my rain water collection system to power my rain drip irrigation system and drip irrigation garden.  I’m moving my deck container garden from the top of the deck down to ground level and more shade.  I’m going to experiment with rigging a rain drip irrigation system into my rain water collection system to power the rain drip irrigation for the deck container garden and the raised bed garden which is 150 feet from the rain water collection system.

[sc:catlinks]

Finishing the Install of a Rain Water Collection System for Drip Irrigation System

I’ve finished installing my rain water collection system that I will use to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden.  We actually accomplished all of the work in about a half a day and it was fairly easy.  We levelled the tank, finished installing the collection and filter pipes and then installed the filter pipe drain and overflow piping.  I’m not ure of the roof surface area that this collector drains but will measure and report back next month.  All in all, installing a rain water collection system to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden was relatively easy and inexpensive.

Leveling the Rain Water Collection Tank

Red Levelling the Green Rain Water Collection Tank
Leveling the Rain Water Collection Tank

This rain water collection tank holds 1,000 gallons and that should be plenty to supply several months of water for my drip irrigation system.  It is approximately 9 feet tall by 5 feet wide.  I think it’s important that it is level because water weighs a little over 8 pounds/gallon and 1,000 gallons means the tank weighs approximately 4 tons when full.  That’s more than a large vehicle and it is definitely more top heavy than a large vehicle.  I doubt it will be subjected to the side to side movement that a vehicle is but I still think leveling the tank is important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[ad#DCG Narrow Links]

 

Rain Water Collection Tank Pad Adjustments

Green Rain Water Collection Tank with Red Crushed Granite Pad
Rain Water Collection Tank Crushed Granite Pad

I save some of the crushed granite from when I originally built the pads for the rain water collection tanks and used some of that saved excess to push under the tank to level it.  The location of my tank, under my deck, is on the side of a hill and leveling this tank, as well as the drip irrigation system and deck container garden will be a challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[ad#DCG Rectangle]

 

Rain Water Collection Pipes

White Rain Water Collection Pipes Under Brown Decking for Drip Irrigation System
Rain Water Collection Pipes for Drip Irrigation System

The rain water collection piping system consists of collection pipes and a filter pipe.  The primary collection pipes are connected directly to the rain gutter down spouts running from the roof of my house.  In this case, we’re collecting from 2 downspouts and running both of them into a single tank.  I do have the ability to add additional downspouts collections in the future as well as adding additional tanks in the event that I want to expand my drip irrigation system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining Rain Water Collection Pipes

Purple Gluing White Rain Water Collection Pipes for Container Vegetable Gardening
Gluing Rain Water Collection Pipes for Container Vegetable Gardening

In some cases I have cemented the pipe joints together.  I’ve done this where I know there will be water weight stress or that the rain water collection system design is close enough to final to be permanent.  In other cases, I’ve simply hand fitted the pipe joints together to allow for ease of movement if I find out that my system design has a flaw or I have a bad location for my drip irrigation system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe

Assembled Drip Irrigation Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe
Assembled Drip Irrigation Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe

Most commercial and personal water rain water collection systems have a complex filter system to make the water potable.  In my case, the water is not intended to be potable, only to run my drip irrigation system.  Thus, I only really need a filter system to remove debris.  This filter system is the simplest but least efficient.  The design is intended for the first rain wash to fill the vertical pipe.  The first rain wash will contain the majority of the debris.  Once the vertical pipe is filled, the remaining collected rainwater fill flow into the tank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe Drain

Outflow from Rain Water Collection for Container Vegetable Gardening
Outflow from Rain Water Collection for Container Vegetable Gardening

The vertical filter pipe in my rain water collection system needs some method of draining.  I am not reliable to remember to manually drain the filter pipe after each rain.  So, I’ve installed a faucet at the bottom of the pipe and opened it slightly to allow the filter pipe to drain slowly over time.  Although I can’t use this drainage water to directly supply my drip irrigation system, I will use it to supply my rained bed garden and another drip irrigation system I’m planning to try down there.  This design fails in two ways that are somewhat acceptable to me.  The first failure point is that it does not account for drainage of the debris.  The debris will still have to be manually cleaned by removing the entire end plug from the filter pipe.  The second failure is that this system will fail to collect rain water when the run off collected is less than the outflow from the faucet.  That means that a very slow drizzle or light rainfall may fail to collect in the tank.  I’ll have to use trial and error to determine rainfall amounts and collections versus the faucet settings for drainage so that I collect as much rainwater as possible without collecting too much debris.

 

 

Summary of Rain Water Collection System for Drip Irrigation Installation

I leveled my rain water collection tank, which is top heavy, to prevent any future problems.  I cemented some of the rain water collection pipes but only hand fitted others, depending on the water weight stresses and expectation of potential design changes.  I’ve installed the vertical filter pipe, faucet and drain hose and will begin recording rainfall and drainage amounts to optimize the outflow faucet settings and collect as much rain water as possible for my rain water collection system to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden.

[sc:catlinks]