Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Sunday I planted the first food crops in the high tunnel. The rye is small enough that it was easy to work it up with the little rototiller. I seeded beets, radishes, leeks, scallions, spinach, a greens mix, and a lettuce mix.
Then it came time to turn on the water, but first I need to explain just how we get water to begin with. On the south side of the farm, about 1/2 mile away, is a reservoir that gets filled from the irrigation ditch. From the reservoir, there is underground pipe that flows downhill to the farmstead buildings. It flows to a valve and a hydrant behind the house. From there it branches two directions. The direction I care about, to the greenhouse, high tunnel, and garden, first goes into the quonset, where many years ago it was used for something or another. For whatever reason, this something or another required the water line to leave the safety of being buried 6 feet deep below the frost line, come out of the ground, make a loop and go back into the ground, safely 6 feet deep. Ultimately it doesn't really matter how deep the rest of the line is buried, that one short exposed loop in the quonset causes all sorts of problems. It will freeze and break in the late fall, winter, and early spring. So each fall, we have to shut the water off and blow the line out so there is no standing water in the loop over winter. Come spring (right now!), we turn the water on, and hope the days and nights aren't too cold for too long.
With our new high tunnel, we now have early season water requirements, so I turned the water on and waited for it to come flowing out of the hydrant by the high tunnel. It did not. After such a successful planting session, I spent about 2 hours wandering all over, trying to figure out why there was no water. Water flowed from the hydrant by the valve, but no water was even getting to the loop. So that seemed to indicate a blockage or break somewhere between the valve and the loop, about 300 feet. It remains a mystery, but until it's solved, all those seeds I sowed need water. So water them I did, and again last night and will again today and tomorrow and for the foreseeable future until water flows again or I find a break somewhere.
The pipe that delivers the water.
The complex, labor-saving irrigation system.
Posted by Jacob at 5:59 AM