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Help on irrigation project for veggie garden

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posted on May, 7 2009 @ 06:06 PM
I have a project that I am considering and I hope that the expertise on ATS will help me complete it.

We are planting a small 10X20 vegetable garden in the yard. My project concerns irrigation.

The garden is far enough away from the house to make watering from a garden hose almost impossible. Carrying water would also be quite difficult.

HOWEVER, there is a small stream within 20 feet of the garden. It is down a small slope of about 8 ft.

I am thinking of pumping or siphoning water from the stream to water the garden. I would use aquarium tubing to carry the water from the stream to the garden.

I would like to power the pump with solar power. Does anyone have any experience in this area? Building a solar powered device, such as a small pump?

Or do you have any other suggestions for irrigation?

Any help/suggestions is much appreciated.

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 06:16 PM
no sprinkler system that you can adapt to water the garden?

I can't advise on pumping water from the stream, I have no experience with that type of stuff, but wouldn't you need electricity to run the pump?

How about a rain barrel with a soaker hose attached?

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 06:27 PM
HI jsobecky! I too am putting together a system like that.
I will use (2) 12 volt deep cycle batteries for 24 volts total.
May go with a single 24 volt truck battery.....because the pump I want is
24 volt, as well as solar panel and should make the system more efficient.
I have a prostar solar controller I'll use and a 50 watt solar panel.
I would like to double the power with another panel though.
I am still in the design stage as I have recently completed getting
the house self sufficient first. I will pump out of a ditch up about 10 feet
into the upper garden. I will post links of what I have found and maybe
we can bounce ideas off each other and help others while we're at it!
Anywa, I'll go gather some info for the thread and be back later...
Oh also I have heard of using 12 volt fountain pumps too.
One of these may give you enough for what you need.
I am starting bigger because I will eventually irrigate 2 acres this way.
I have some rain barrels and thats an idea, you could pump into barrels
when its sunny and then release into garden via gravity when required,
that way you would not need a battery.
Edit to add links:
I have bought from this store before with good luck, price was lowest on net
Dean helped me with my house system, he has pumps, panels, etc.....

[edit on 7-5-2009 by dodadoom]

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 06:39 PM
Ram Pumps are cheap and don't require power but the noise can be irritating or so I understand. I've read about them but not built one. There is a great link at the site above which shows how they work.

Some information suggests that typical ram pumps discharge approximately 7 gallons of water through the waste valve for every gallon pressurized and pumped. The percentage of the drive water delivered actually varies based on the ram construction, vertical fall to pump, and elevation to the water outlet. The percentage of the drive water pumped to the desired point may be approximately 22% when the vertical fall from the water source to the pump is half of the elevation lift from the ram to the water outlet. It may be as low as 2% or less when the vertical fall from the water source to the pump is 4% of the elevation lift from the ram to the water outlet.

Moving water uphill with no power = UberCool

Good luck with the garden jsobecky! Way to be!

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 06:47 PM

Originally posted by worldwatcher

How about a rain barrel with a soaker hose attached?

I was thinking something similar .
A gravity , drip feed . A raised barrel(s) / run a few lines .


This may be helpful if you go with a low powered method of pumping water from the stream .

How far away is the house ?

I would really exhaust all the possibilities of drawing water from the house , before trying to draw the water up that hill .

sounds like a great project
[edit on 7-5-2009 by UmbraSumus]

[edit on 7-5-2009 by UmbraSumus]

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 07:28 PM
The garden is approx. 100 ft away from the house, the nearest outside spigot is about 150 ft.

The rain barrel idea is good, it's filling it up that concerns me.

There is no sprinkler system to tap into.

Looking forward to more input from dodadoom and the rest. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Thanks for the suggestions.

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 11:21 PM
If you go with the barrel idea, you would just let a small pump with
a solar panel attached fill the barrel(s)from the water source(as it would take awhile at low pressure). Then when the barrel was full you could run it from the barrel whenever you needed it directly out into garden.
Unless sprinkling, then you would need a pump for pressure.
Does that make any sense or is this even what you had in mind?
If you have specific questions it may help us find an answer too.
I found out each system is fairly unique and you kind of have to taylor
one to your needs. The barrel idea would be fairly cheap. Just use the same size tubing as on the pump. You could water the garden with the pump when its sunny directly too, but would not work if cloudy.
But generally if its cloudy it rains too or is at least cool and not so critical
to have to water right away. You wouldn't even need barrels then
unless you had roofs to catch rainwater and wanted to pipe it to the garden too.
Just throwing out ideas. Its kinda fun and interesting!
These pumps are usually low flow but as long as there is sun they work.
There are bigger pumps that are for deep wells also btw.
It depends on what you need and what would work the best for application.
I'll post some more links I found here. I found out, theres not alot of help out there for us really.

100 ft really isnt that far you should be able to run from house in a pinch if needed.
Look at the pumps on this page:
Either a pressure pump for sprinkling or a regular bilge pump would work good I think. IMO Check these out. I use bilge pumps(12 volt)on my dredge at work and they really put out alot of water!
Advice from a professional engineer:
Great resource here:

In any remote water pumping situation, avoid using batteries if AT ALL possible. Your water storage tank should be your battery--that is, your system should pump water fast enough and your cistern should be big enough that you can last through as many days of no sun or wind as necessary

[edit on 8-5-2009 by dodadoom]

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 11:34 PM
You could always get a roll of irrigation hose and bury it in a line from the house to the garden. put a 2 way valve on the house tap so you can switch between the 2 systems and have a tap at the other end near the veggie patch so you can control the amount od water.

[edit on 7-5-2009 by munkey66]

posted on May, 7 2009 @ 11:36 PM
How about an Archimedes' screw?

I've always wanted to make one of those

Will this watering system need to be automatic?

You should be able to buy solar powered pumps off the shelf, you can here in Australia, you would only need a smallish one.

To make it automatic you just need to install an inline battery powered timer.

A couple of other things, I would use flexible poly pipe, this pipe is uv resistant so it won't deteriorate in the sun.

The best way to extract the water would be to obviously have the pump on solid ground and then run the inlet pipe out to the water with a float and a basket on the end so it pulls clean water from the top not the bottom.

posted on May, 8 2009 @ 01:11 AM
As for the tubing/hose idea... could it be easier to use something like that black swamp cooler line? I'm not sure how they sell the aquarium hose that you are thinking of, but being poly tube it could end up more expensive in the long run if you are forced to make a long run of it. The local plumbing place here has that black cooler line stuff in really big rolls and it is pretty cheap. Being a more rigid tube, perhaps you could punch some holes in it and make a decent dripper system located around your plants?

If you are going 12 or 24v maybe a marine bilge pump?

Off the top o' the head of course,

posted on May, 8 2009 @ 01:23 AM
reply to post by jsobecky

The 100 - 200' range from a residential water source is not a big concern .
I don't know what climate you have .

A couple rolls of polyethylene tubing 6" under ground . I would suggest using dippers and micro sprayers . Drippers are figured in GPH gallons per hour where sprinklers are GPM .

A 3/4 hose from a hose bib will deliver you 10 gpm or 6oo gph . since drippers are figured in GPH you could put 500 1 gph drippers out on plants the lower flow reduces friction loss you might push thet to 550 drippers . Most companies manufacture drippers from .5 GPH to 20 GPH you can find adjustable ones they are about a $1 to $2 a piece .

With the low flow on them if you wished to convert to a solar the lower flow will allow smaller pump and lower electrical usage.

Since me and my better half converted our 1/2 acre of trees plants and garden to drippers the plants have flourished and we use less water . Ours is set up on a timer it waters every other day for 30 min (using adj drippers ) .

the lot is long and narrow water travels from the meter 150 ' down hill to the home and the drip lines travel 150' out to the plants back up hill towards the meter . It still works great

posted on May, 8 2009 @ 02:09 AM
Some really good ideas here! Thanks to all of you.


If you go with the barrel idea, you would just let a small pump with
a solar panel attached fill the barrel(s)from the water source(as it would take awhile at low pressure). Then when the barrel was full you could run it from the barrel whenever you needed it directly out into garden.
Unless sprinkling, then you would need a pump for pressure.
Does that make any sense or is this even what you had in mind?

This is exactly what I hand in mind; a simple solution that is cost-effective (cheap).

Now, another question: the barrels. Any ideas for a source?


Archimedes screw? I'll have to look that one up.

Good tip on extracting the water...I was concerned about getting the line plugged up with silt, etc.


In the OP I mentioned aquarium tubing. That's because I already have a good supply of that that I got for free. It should suffice for a small (10X20) garden.

Lostinthedarkness, munkey66:

I really want to avoid watering from the house. We're up here in New England, where the most plentiful crop is rocks. It took a young strong man nearly all day to till up the 10 X 20 garden using a rear-tine tiller. He pulled up several hundred pounds of rocks, enough to collect for some yet-to-be determined future project.

Thanks again for all the ideas, folks. And thanks for the links also. It's going to be great picking fresh veggies from the garden for the supper table. Next year, we're looking to expand the garden if all goes well.

posted on May, 8 2009 @ 08:26 PM
reply to post by jsobecky

Hello! Glad we're on the same page! I found our rain barrels at a farm
store here on sale. They are 55 gallons each and I think they were about
25 dollars apiece. The shipping would probably be too much to buy them online. These came with the hose faucet installed also. The nice thing is they are grey and they match the house so well no one even notices them!
If you want to go cheap, you could use old plastic barrels and install your own tap at the bottom! Sometimes they are practically free or pretty cheap anyway.
I thought of using a larger bulk tank like 3 or 400 gallons but that may not work in your case. Id imagine around 100 gallon capacity should get you going. I'll post some links I found:
Some collapsable barrels I happened upon- kinda nifty!
Heres a couple of pumps that might work or to give you ideas anyway.
They also have some solar panels and alt power equipment you could take a gander at too!
I have wondered about something like this before for my setup:
Even the small pump puts out almost 50 gallons per hour!
You should be able to water nicely that way with your existing aquarium
tubing, however you would need to adapt to the proper size from pump.
You could split it up into about 4 or 5 tubing lines to go around through garden. (or something like that) I like the dripper idea but may not be practicle. BTW, lostinthedarkness how do you keep drippers clean?
If using a pond pump you would have to take sprayer end off and
adapt to tubing splitter. I was thinking maybe you could use an aquarium
air gang valve setup, then you could run multiple lines off one pump.
Not sure if it would work I havent tried any of this, but the're out there!
I am also not sure if you would need a battery to run this but I think it would depend mostly if your solar panel puts out enough power.
Here are the types of bilge pumps I use at work:
If you wanted to get fancy you could set it up with a float so when your barrels are full it shuts off automatically!

[edit on 9-5-2009 by dodadoom]

posted on May, 9 2009 @ 09:41 PM
reply to post by jsobecky

Originally posted by jsobecky


In the OP I mentioned aquarium tubing. That's because I already have a good supply of that that I got for free. It should suffice for a small (10X20) garden.

Well by all means, work with what you got and let us know how it works! I'm all for doing it on the cheap. I Built my garden from recycled wood and misc stuff that was just laying around here.


posted on May, 9 2009 @ 10:07 PM
Not certain how much you want to spend, but our house water system, as well as well system are powered by a 12-volt pump. We got this one from It has a demand switch, and will pressurize to 40 psi. We run it off a standard deep-cycle 12-volt battery, and that 12-volt battery is charged by a 5-watt solar PV trickle charger, also from northern:

We looked into dedicated solar water pumps, but they were pretty expensive, and so put together this system. it should have plenty of power to do what you want ...... our well is about 200 yards away from the house and the water is 5-feet down..... it has no trouble at all pulling the well water. Then, your discharge is just like a basic hose.... maybe you want to attach a soaker hose to that for your garden.

The demand switch on the pump is nice. It makes it so that the pump never comes on until you use the water, and it keeps the pressure at a constant 40 psi, with no need for an expansion tank.

Let me know if I can provide any more info.
This paid for itself in power costs in about six months, and keeps on giving

posted on May, 9 2009 @ 10:36 PM
reply to post by argentus

My initial desire was to go totally solar powered, but the more I get hints and tips from posts such as yours, I'm starting to think that using a 12V battery isn't such a bad idea.

That SHURflo pump would more than handle the job, and the trickle charger is neat.

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