Watering with PVC Pipe – Will small #57-size holes get plugged up?

Q.  I am in the process of starting work on the irrigation part
of my conversion to the MittleiderMethodGardening system. I would like to ask  if the small #57 holes in the pvc pipes present any special trouble
with stopping up?

A.  A #57 hole in a Schedule 200 PVC pipe will not plug up much at all if you are using water from a well or from the city system, etc.  If you use irrigation water from a canal or stream you may have some sediment that can clog the holes.

I water from a mountain stream that is sometimes quite dirty – especially in the spring and after a hard rain.  If I experience any clogging of the holes in my pipes I just carry a hoe with me and hit the pipe with the hoe HANDLE a few times. This will dislodge the tiny pieces of pebble, or whatever it is.  Immediately after doing this to a pipe I will unscrew the far end-cap and let the water run through for a few seconds, flushing any loose residue out the end of the pipe.

If any of you are tempted to use Schedule 40 PVC pipe, because “its stronger and will last longer”, etc., I don’t recommend it.  It’s usually more than double the cost, heavier, much harder to drill the holes (breaking lots of drill bits), more inclined to plug up, harder to break loose the blockage with the hose-handle, and even the Schedule 200 will last more than 20 years with any kind of care, so who needs it to last longer.

Eliminate the Drudgery, Save Water, and Water More Efficiently!

Automating your watering system takes much of the drudgery out of the gardening experience.  It also assures more efficient use of the precious water, and does a better job of watering every plant evenly.  I highly recommend it!

This process is covered, with illustrations in the Mittleider Gardening Course, chapter 15, which is available at www.growfood.com.  That chapter is also available free in the Store section, and it’s included in the Files section of the MittleiderMethodGardening Group on YahooGroups.  Following is a recap of the procedures. 

The first thing to do is to measure, mark, and stake the garden, followed by trenching and installing the PVC feeder lines.

First, determine what size pipe you can use.  If the source is only a hose bib, then 3/4″ pipe is all you need.  Watering will be much faster if you have access to a 1″ or larger water source.  Measure the distance from the main water source to the head of the farthest bed, as you will want a header-pipe that long. 

Buy PVC pipe as large as the pipe from the water source, or 3/4″, whichever is larger.

Your trench for the header pipe should be 9″ deep and very close to the beds, so the risers come up only a couple of inches or so from the end stakes at the center of the bed.

Buy slip/slip/thread T’s for risers to each bed, with the threaded T being 3/4″, and the slip sides matching the header pipe.  Cut your header pipe so the T’s are at the center of each bed, then glue them with the T straight up.

To make risers you’ll need one of the following for each bed:
1) 12″-long 3/4 Schedule-200 pipe,
2) 3/4″ slip/threaded female/male connector (to go into the T from the header-pipe),
3) 3/4″ slip/threaded elbow,
4) 2″ threaded bib,
5) plastic threaded ball-valve,
6) Schedule 200 PVC pipe, cut to the length of your bed or box,
7) 3/4″slip/threaded female/male connector (for far end of pipe),
8) 3/4″ threaded end cap. 

To drill holes in your pipes for watering, you need some #57 drill bits and a drill.  To make a jig for marking the pipe, you need a 6″-long piece of 2″ X 4″ board, a pencil, and a drill bit the same size as the pencil. 

Cut a square piece out of the long side of the board at the middle, so the opening fits the pipe snugly, then drill a hole from the top down to the middle of that square opening.  Inserting the pencil into the hole, pull the board along the stationary pipe to mark a straight line.  Then turn the pipe 45 degrees and repeat the line, and another 45 degrees and repeat again.

Stretch a tape measure along the length of the 20′ length of PVC pipe.  Mark a line every 4″ that intersects the 3 lines already on the pipe.  Drill a hole where the lines intersect – 3 holes every 4″ for the length of each pipe.  Thats a lot of holes, but don’t let it scare you.  They go very fast once you get started, and you only do it once – for a garden that’ll last 20 or 30 years.