Intro: Improving a Big-box Drip Irrigation Kit
With the (hopefully) nutrient-enriched liquid now dumping out of my biogas digester and into a collection tank, it's time to run it from the collection tank and into a drip irrigation system for my vegetable gardens. Unfortunately, the big-box drip irrigation system I bought was not a modular as I'd have liked, so I made a few improvements to it.
Step 1: Out of the Box
My local Home Depot doesn't carry any drip irrigation systems, so I went on the HD website and found this Dig brand kit for vegetable gardens that seemed like it would work. Indeed, I was able to make it work for one of my two 8x8 vegetable gardens (with some added work to fix the poor plastic garden hose connections), but the kit included only enough soaker tape terminal ends and connectors for five rows spaced roughly a foot apart while it included enough soaker tape for more than double that amount. The connectors and terminal ends aren't available on their own - not even direct from the manufacturer - and I wasn't about to buy another kit (online and wait for it to ship to me) to get enough to finish the first garden and start the second garden.
Step 2: T Fittings to the Rescue
While futzing around with the soaker tape, I discovered that it was just large enough to fit on a 5/8-inch garden hose barb, which means that a series of 5/8-inch T fittings (I wanted brass, but my local HD only had nylon) would replace the out-of-the-box connectors. I already made up a short length of garden hose (from a free hose I found by the side of the road) to bridge the two gardens, so I spliced the first T fitting into that. No hose clamps necessary on the garden hose given the lack of pressure in the system.
Step 3: Securing the Soaker Tape
Just to make sure the soaker tape doesn't go anywhere, I zip-tied the barb ends. In between each T fitting I used short (roughly one foot) sections of that aforementioned garden hose. On the opposite ends of the lengths of soaker tape, I mimicked the terminals with binder clips on the tape, folded-over a couple times.
Step 4: Laid Out and Testing
Once everything's connected, lay out the soaker tape and turn on the water for testing. Fix leaks, repeat until satisfied. The lower garden does get more water than the upper garden, so I'm considering a valve in between for better flow control.