Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How to Keep An Idiot Busy - Give Them Low Flow Irrigation

When we got this house, it came with a well.  Ground water.  It watered the yard, front and then back, and all was well.

It kept the lawn green, lush and has been so far pretty easy to care for.

Oh sure, you have to go out from time to time and use the weedeater on the fittings, but you have to use the weedeater on the yard anyway.

This is South Florida.  You drop a seed on the ground and it will grow.

The backyard has hedges, and we were getting some dry spots, so we tweaked the system.  At one point we got a computer to control it all, and put in a third zone.

Zone 3.  It's the super-duper low flow zone.  Everything is drip-feed and designed to comply with all watering restrictions.

Now mind you, that is a big lot of problems in itself.

You see, Zone 3, also waters my pots.  Pots full of Orchid, Banana, Podocarpus, Bamboo, Mexican Milkweed, and other cuttings that I am giving a start to.

Four pots of Orchid on the fence, four more on the shed.

Figure it all out yet?

If you drive around South Florida, you will see a lot of homes with a red stain on the walls.  Mine has it too.  It's rust from the ground water.  The easiest fix is to pave it all under and put in gravel then turn off the pump, but I like green around me.  I could never live in the Desert as a result, and my childhood bedroom had tables of flowers, succulents, and vines that I had because I liked it indoors too.

No, really way too much of that stuff.  I moved all that outside.

So the thing with Low Flow Drip Irrigation?  It uses teeny tiny little sprinklers.  About the size of a dime.  The water lines that feed them?  They are plastic lines the size of a fish tank air supply or a straw from a drink in a bar.

You know those small things that you tried to drink from when you got old enough to go to a bar?   Yeah they didn't work then and they don't work now.

They all clog.

Oh sure, they'll work great for a while, but just wait.  You will have to clean them.

Why?  That rust stain.  It's ugly on a wall.  I solved it by planting screw palms in front of the walls where the sprinkler stained it.  I figure if there is enough water to keep staining my walls, I can grow stuff there.

If it is coating my walls with a film of rust and other sediments, then what is it doing to those tiny lines.

Arteriosclerosis.  Yep, it basically gives my sprinklers a heart attack.

A coating of rust inside the lines that grabs hold and locks down the mud that is in the water.  Stick a pipe into the ground here and you get water, but that water has sand and other muck that gets up into the lines with it.

Slowly it constricts the flow until you are out there and realize that your sprinklers aren't sprinkling and your orchids are dying.

How do you fix that?

Join me in the yard.  7AM.  I'll show you.

Remove the sprinkler head, get a thin wire and ream out the water holes.  Oh wait, you can't pull that off?  No worries, just cut the line and replace the head.  Did that make the line shorter?  Yes.  You'll have to replace that line to the sprinkler.

How about the junction.  That "T" that you made to connect the two pieces of licorice whip together?  It's clogged.  When you removed the line and cleaned the sprinkler head it still didn't sprinkle.  Clean out the "T".

Hmmm, still not working?  Go back a step.  You connected the lines like a row of "T"s?  Like "TTTT"?  Not too good.  You will have to remove each "T" and clean them out with a thick wire or some fishing line.

Floss those "T"s! 

Still no flow?  Ok, blow out the feeder line that the sprinkler's connected to.  Just don't point it at yourself.

I lost a pair of jeans and my sneakers that way once.  You see at the end of each line all the mud and rust collects.  I turned on Zone 3, opened the purge valve and sprayed about a gallon of rust on my Jeans and Sneakers.  After dancing around and screaming a pile of obscenities, I closed it back up as the water was already running "clear".

So how do you spend your time?  Mine is dancing, cursing, and stabbing myself with cutting tools when I try to get these lines clear. 

Yeah, I need a better hobby.

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