Urban Balcony Irrigation From A Rain Barrel – Look No Spigot!!

Poetry hasn’t come so easy for me lately so In absence of exercising my poetic creativity, I have worked on other projects; I love nature and Texas/Dallas living hasn’t done much to satisfy my need to connect with nature.  In my attempts to find something to suffice, I took up growing plants on my balcony.  While Balcony gardening isn’t as rich in as a backpacking trip through Yosemite Park, I have  found it to be rewarding and have received much enjoyment and satisfaction growing plants on my balcony.  Since I found the hobby to be a positive step in the right direction, I decided to turn it up a notch or two!  This year I acquired a bonsai tree, some gorgeous dwarf Japanese Maples, a flower bed and have planted Tomatoes, Peppers, Squash, and various herbs. Growing these plants in containers through a hot Texas summer equates to a commitment much like owning a dog, only, you can’t take the plants with you when you want to get out-of-town. Texas heat can dry a container plant out in 1-day if it doesn’t get water a couple of times daily. I attempted to alleviate the water requirements by purchasing an automated watering system. After many internet searches, I learned they don’t make anything like this for a large Apartment or Condo Balcony that lacks a patio spigot.  I wasn’t going to let that stop me. After more research, I decided to engineer an automated drip irrigation system that would have the ability to water my containers for 2-weeks so I can leave town without worry if the plants will be watered.

It took many nights studying ideas to gain an approach to how I might make the idea come to life. I set my sights on a pump driven system that takes water from a pre-filled rain barrel. I learned that understanding irrigation, flow, pressure and pumps was like understanding Algebra.  Finding the right pump was a chore.  The pump turns on and off automatically using a battery operated irrigation timer. I can set the watering intervals based on the climate for any particular time of year. On days where the temperature climbs above 100, I will set the timer to open two times a day for 1-minute at a time.

In a perfectly green world, I would harvest the rainwater from the gutters, but I am renting so I was not able engage that fantastic technique. I actually fill the rain barrel, which I placed in an inconspicuous area on my patio, with a hose I connect with an adapter to my kitchen faucet.

I created the embedded video to document the finished product. I love this irrigation system. I really enjoyed figuring it out and making it a reality!!  Now I am free’d up to write some poetry…

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