The vegetable garden measuring 60’ X 70’ (4,200 square feet) needs 2,700 gallons of water for adequate irrigation to reach a soil saturation of 18” in accordance with USDA research. This is not a yearly watering. This is a one continuous watering.
So the question is, when you are under water restrictions in the summer, will the city sell you enough water-can you afford it? Will your water well or springhouses provide this amount of water?
Wait it gets worse: a 100’ X 100’ garden requires 6,400 gallons of water in one continuous pumping. For the lawn people consider how much of a valuable resource you are wasting-not because you are bad, but because of views of necessary standards in our culture wherein we worship lawns more than foods.
For 4,200 sq. ft., we will need 1.5 gallons of water per square foot. That is where I mentioned last week the garden was a swamp and I could sink in the mud up to my knees. There had to be a better way than irrigation flooding or sprinkling, plus this calculation does not take into the effect of water evaporation, increased insect growth, blights and rot.
From my experience this method is obsolete-at least for the gardener. Initially it will require some extra labor but once complete you will collect water in the underground bed, and in the event of a monsoon striking this area you determine how much water necessary for your type of gardening and different plants and herbs requirement before rerouting the water to collection tanks.
My correspondence with “roeoz” (running on empty) in Australia where draught upon draught is commonplace, cisterns for personal water collection averaging 15,000 US Gallons are commonplace, and most are now dry. This relates back to my pond investment, which requires space, equipment, piping and pumps for such huge storage capacity.
The current investment in “ My Garden Make Over” hinges on a newly designed Growhaus with under bed watering and collection tanks connected by inexpensive piping, or even hoses, until the budget catches up, to water the Growhaus beds as I deem necessary through the dry summers.
If you pooh-pooh the thought of water needs take a look at this article on the situation in California who supplies most of our food and at best production will be down to 15% because of a lack of water. This with the Global Warming theory, or just weather changes if you do not like labels, implies food rationing and riots this summer, yes, riots in the USA.
I am not discussing the large Solar Greenhouse at this time for reasons that is a separate topic and requires too much investment in size and labor for the suburban gardener-but oh is it nice in the winter cold to step into a lush rain forest environment and putter about while listening to the CD playing various bird and natures sounds-all the while with the snow coming down outside the windows. This is a stress reliever.
The Growhaus for the limited space gardener with limited funds and skills is the direction I want to focus on and I apologize for repeating my self but this format of writing is not like a book with introductions etc. Bear with me. Now, let us return to the Growhaus next to, and in front of the Solar Greenhouse.
I am going to disassemble this structure and return it to its original intention-growing asparagus. It is too small for other use-but it did teach me a great deal.
We left off last week with the underground slotted/covered pipes on the sides of the 6’wide bed and a mound of soil in the center. The option is to just shovel it back over the pipes and then make central foot traffic down the center. I opted to dig a bit further and create a 2’ deep X 1’ wide center dug out walk way. 1’ wide is too small for my big feet but the goal was also to make the clear plastic roof lower than normal to conserve heat. If I made it just level across, the roof would be less that 6’ high and I think my goal of lowering the roof about 2’ was good as it added warmth longer into the season. So the bottom walkway, measured by my height of 5’9” was really a roof covering 3’9”. As you notice in the garden catalogs they sell “tunnels” of low height, such as 3’ or 4’ high and these are impossible to navigate unless you are forever taking the covers off. I want to walk in with my plants, checking leaves, tapping the tomato plant flowers for pollination, and needs. So tunnels are out.
By utilizing ground contact treated 2” X 10” planks, and additionally treated with “Copper Brown or Copper Green (tm.)”, then placing horizontally a ground contact (also treated), 1” X 6” boards horizontally over the 2” plank edge-this is the careful part now-1” inside, and 3” outside the plank edge allows you to bore holes 5/16” every 2’ to insert plastic electrical ¾” conduit flexible plastic piping to form the above ground clear plastic window of light. Inside the area we will later drill 5/8” holes every 2’ for an second internal hoop of plastic covering using ½” PVC pipes to hoop over low lying plants i.e.: strawberries etc.
The reasoning behind inserting the hoops through a board reinforces the structure and allows very close alignment of the hoops and aids in stapling the plastic covering to this board to reduce air infiltration. The average cost, at this time of this writing for one 10’ plastic electrical ¾” tube is $1.17 each. I used approximately two hoops per 2 feet that indicates 30-36 hoops (including doorways) for this 30’ structure.
Conversely, looking at a $3,000 Hoop House in the garden catalogs, which are even more costly than this inexpensive “starter” unit, sell metal hoops at recommended 4’ spacing and the plastic covering is overlapped on the ground level and covered with soil for a air tight and windproof covering. (The door is extra) It must be nice to hand pull weed side growth with these inexpensive commercial designs. For the weed whacker trimmer people you can use it right up to the boards in the Growhaus with no damage as the vertical planks rise a few inches above ground level.
Thinking of my Australian friends with less to no rain I though to expand the rain collection by making this plastic covering a “roll up” design to collect even more water. For this area I have abandoned this concept as I see most people would be reluctant to install brass grommets every 2” and hook the plastic ends to the base 1” x 6” DRILLED BOARDS. My goal is to make this Growhaus simple. I also experimented with a 2’ high roll up eve from the sides and installed a 1” wire mesh fence inside and around the plastic pipes. This was to keep out rabbits, terrapins and such. I neglected to think of kangaroos and deer. So, in the long run the entire hoop house needs to be covered, keeping out air leaks.
However a completely covered hoop structure, although wonderful in the spring and fall, overheats in the summer and looses heat when winter sets in strongly below 20 F. We can compensate for this in the Growhaus design # 2. (Which is already, in my mind, becoming obsolete as I look forward to design # 3). However we will continue with # 2 to prove out my theories.
In summation the first small Growhaus is fine, it requires refinement and as I said I will disassemble and re-use the materials. The most important learning lesson is that the water runoff from the Solar Greenhouse front windows (2’ X 6’) was adequate to provide sufficient underground watering to create joy in my heart for the miracle growth we reported on last fall.
You will notice the run off pipes. These were for demonstration as if this was a finished project I would run these drain pipes under ground to the pipe in the growing bed underground watering. Instead of buying a door, you can make a simple door out of wood scraps, or use the electrical conduit pipes. Air tightness is accomplished by looping a couple inches of extra plastic around the door. In the next two Growhauses we are going to use a plastic guttering at the base of the plastic hoop covering, and staple the plastic into the guttering and collect water off of the hoop structure and channel it also into the underground pipe. Waste not-Want not.
Next week we are going to take a break from the Growhaus design and discuss seed planting now in the bleak of winter for next spring. This will also afford me some time to start on the hoops in the second Growhaus with more pictures. I lost a great deal of pictures when the previous computer files became corrupted, and lost, so we are trying to catch up for Dear Reader.
In the mean time take a look at the new FarmTek catalog for plastic coverings and general greenhouse interests. Products from FarmTek can be found online at: http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/home
If I can do it-so can you. I was not born with a hammer and saw. I learned, so can you. Take heart. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
COPYRIGHT: 2009, BACK2theLAND, Mark Steel