One of the biggest challenges to growing food in Las Vegas (or any desert for that matter) is the lack of rainfall. Growing up in Massachusetts, I took rain for granted for a long time. If we wanted to grow something, we simply threw some seeds in the ground, gave them a sprinkle of water to get going, and that was it. Nature took care of the rest. But here in Vegas, the story is a lot different. Our average annual rainfall is only 4″ per year. FOUR INCHES. And most of it comes by way of two or three decent storms during the summer months. Needless to say that rainfall doesn’t do much to help the desert gardener. A good, reliable irrigation system is essential if you want to grow food here. I get lots of questions about what type of system we use. And let me just say, it seems like we have tried them all. Up until this point, I have not been happy with any of the method’s we’ve tried. So a couple weeks ago, I ripped the whole thing out and started over. And folks, I think we finally have a winner. Every single seed I planted for our fall garden germinated! Here is the tutorial for our latest and greatest DIY garden irrigation.
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I’m lucky enough to have six raised beds that the hubs and I built a few years after we moved in to our house. To get the water to the beds initially, we tapped into the existing sprinklers from the front lawn. Thankfully my hubby is handy and knows how to do that sort of thing. The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how to add the irrigation to your existing system. If you don’t already have a watering system in your raised beds, there are ways to connect poly tubing to your outside hose nozzle. I’m pretty sure a quick google search will show you what to buy. Here is a link to a product that screws on to your hose faucet to convert it to a drip irrigation system.
Here is a list of parts and pieces you will need to complete this project:
- 1/2″ poly tubing
- 1/2″ elbow connectors
- 1/2″ barbed T’s
- 1/2″ barbed T’s (with female thread)
- 1/2″ stakes
- Micro Spray Nozzles
- Regulators (1/2″ – 25 psi)
- 1/2″ Coupling (thread x glue)
- Poly Tubing Hole Punch
- Purple Primer
- Clear PVC Cement
- Pipe Cutters
I know this list seems complicated but follow along for a minute and it will all make sense.
For starters, you will need your 1/2″ coupling, a regulator, and a threaded barbed T.
Attach the threaded T to the regulator, and the regulator to the coupling. It should look like this:
Next apply purple primer and PVC glue to the pipe that is in your garden and to the coupling. It should look like this once it’s all attached:
The next step is to cut and connect the 1/2″ poly tubing that will run around the perimeter of each bed. Unroll the tubing and use your stakes to keep it from coiling up again. Cut pieces that are the same length and width as your raised beds, and connect the corners with barbed elbows. The corners will look like this:
Next you will need to run poly tubing from your regulator to the perimeter. Cut two pieces the correct length, and attach them using your barbed T’s. It will look like this:
Next you will need to screw your micro spray nozzles on to the risers. Once they are attached, use your hole puncher to pierce the poly tubing every 18″-24″ or so. The risers have a barb on them that will snap right into the holes you’ve punched. The riser can then be stuck in the soil to keep it secure. It will look like this:
And that’s it! You’ll need to play around with the micro sprayers a bit. The ones I recommend spray 180 degrees, so you’ll have to make sure they are all pointing in the right direction. They also have a flow control which may need tweaking. But that just involves turning the valve.
This system is working so well for me that I am absolutely KICKING myself for not doing this sooner. Ah well…live and learn! Do you have a DIY garden irrigation system that you love? If so, please share! I’d love to hear about it. And if you have any questions at all about this tutorial or about growing food in Las Vegas, please feel free to ask! As always, thanks for reading.
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