Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dating a ditch witch

For weeks Erik has been toiling before dawn and after dusk (with some hours at his day job in between on weekdays) relentlessly chipping away at one of our most ambitious diy projects to-date. We have almost completed an irrigation system to efficiently supply water to all the trees and shrubs on our property. The project began with Erik tapping into our main water line, a somewhat daring endeavor considering the fragile old pipes that supply our house. While he was at it he replaced a decaying segment of galvanized steel pipe in the main. Yum, right?

With those two warm-up exercises complete, the real adventure began, with trusty Elsa (the suburbanite’s pickup) doing the heavy lifting.

Just renting the machine was a bit of a headache when Erik got partway home and realized he wasn’t given the necessary key and had to drive the ditch witch back past a big accident to retrieve said key. But eventually we were set to go. At first the cool controls were another power tool dream come true.

But I think that sensation quickly wore off. With our ultra-dry soil, the ditches just wanted to cave themselves in, and maneuvering was tricky. Ultimately Erik mastered the finer points of ditch witching and the trenches held.

Erik rigged up a sophisticated valve system to control the different tree, shrub, and spigot zones separately. Note the color-coding.

Countless trips to Home Depot later, we had all the PVC pipe and accessories we needed. Erik laid a mind-boggling 1000 feet of PVC pipe in the ground to service all the plants in our yard. Just thinking about all the angles, cuts and, connections that required makes me tired. But finally the pipes were all laid, the risers installed, and then the smaller hoses and tubes attached to shuttle the water to individual plants.

Now we’re just waiting with bated breath to find out… will our tubing survive the packrats? (I’m referring to the pesky rodent rather than to people with too many boxes in their attics.) Here in the desert packrats are known to chew on irrigation tubing in pursuit of the water inside. Here’s hoping they leave ours alone. Until then Erik and I can be found checking our bubblers and hoping our parched-looking trees will soon be on the mend!

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