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.

What Grows Vertically – Problems with Canal Water and Manure

Q.  I connected with your web site after admiring the beautiful garden west of Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.  (my family was admiring the giraffes!)   I like the concept of vertical gardening.  My question is this:  Can you grow stuff like pumpkins, watermelons, squash, etc.  up a wire?  If you do, how do you support the fruit.  Even cucumbers seem like they’d be too heavy.   I’m excited to try the drip irrigation system this spring.  I feel like I’ve been knocking my head against a wall for 15 years because we water with canal water and fertilize with horse manure.  My kids and I could spend our whole lives in the garden and couldn’t begin to keep the weeds out of it.  This year we’ll be using well water and trying the Mittleider method. I hope we can manage to kill off all that grass and morning glory.  Maybe you’ve got some ideas for that as well. 

A.  we recommend fruits that are less than 6# each for vertical growing.  We grow indeterminate tomatoes and eggplant vertically, guiding them up baling twine strings that are fastened to strong wire strung between T-Frames.  Cucumbers are ideal for growing vertically, as well as any of the small indeterminate squashes. 

Any of the aforementioned plants need to be pruned, in order to have success growing them vertically.  You can expect to increase your yields by 3-4 times in this way.  Detailed instructions are included in several of the Mittleider gardening books and CD’s available at www.growfood.com.  Articles in this FAQ section also deal with vertical growing and pruning.  Look under Tomatoes for several.

Keep your fruits picked as they ripen, to avoid excess weight on the vines, which can sometimes drag the vines down if too many fruits are allowed to remain.

I’ve been “knocking my head against a wall for 15 years” also, telling people to avoid canal water (or filter it) and manure for the reason you cite, as well as the problems many have with pests and diseases.  Thanks for the testimonial.

Remembering that “one year’s seeds makes 7 years’ weeds”, I recommend you get a couple of 2-way hoes as shown on the website’s Store pages at www.growfood.com under Tools.   Follow the recommendations for “E & O” (early and often) weeding, and by leaving the aisles completely dry, you will get ahead of the weeds quickly.