Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Customer Spotlight

July 30, 2014

It is time for another Customer Spotlight.  This blog is focused on a West Africa flagship project. The needs are great in sub-saharan Africa and thanks to people like Babazanna Abdulkarim and many more like him that are working tirelessly to bring food security to millions, people are beginning to rise out of poverty.

 This photo of children coming from nearby villages to help were too wonderful not to share.

We also want to share some of the great work being done by the following agencies and the many people behind them. Their efforts and donations are helping to increase food security and helping people rise above poverty in Nigeria by teaching them basic farming and water conservation skills.
Please checkout the great work being done.

    Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone.  If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: 

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    Know Your Threads

    July 23, 2014

    Drip irrigation parts and components are connected together using different methods, one of which is by threaded connections. A garden hose connected to a hose bib (sometimes referred to as a spigot) is a simple example of this type of connection.
    Threaded connectors are available in two options, one option has a male threaded end and the other option has a female threaded end.  You can see the difference just by taking a look at them; if the ridges are raised and prominent, it is a male connector. If the ridges are on an inside surface, they are female threads. As an example, the spigot outside your home has male threads and the hose that you attach to the spigot will then have female threads allowing you to screw one onto the other making a tight, leak-free connection.

    What Types of Fittings are Available?

    Of the threaded connectors, the fitting can be either hose thread or pipe thread depending on the application. Hose threads are always the same size, ¾”. Whereas pipe threads can vary greatly from one manufacturer to another and one system to another as well. Pipe threads found in drip irrigation systems are usually between ½” to 1".
    Hose threads and pipe threads are not compatible with each other and cannot be interchanged with systems using one or the other. Just as only male and female threaded fittings can be used together, certain sizes of pipe threads can only be used with those sizes that fit appropriately and adapters must be used otherwise.
    Common acronym designations have been adopted to easily describe the different types of fittings:
    MHT = Male Hose Thread
    FHT = Female Hose Thread
    MPT= Male Pipe Thread
    FPT = Female Pipe Thread
    As we mentioned earlier, hose thread sizes are usually all ¾” so you may not always see this number after the MHT or FHT designations. Pipe thread sizes will always have the size clearly marked on the fitting and this includes specialty pipe thread fittings that have a different size fitting on each end. For these, you will see descriptive markings for each end showing exactly what size fitting you have. An example would be: ½ MPT x ¾ FHT refers to an item which has ½” Male Pipe Threads on one end and ¾” Female Hose Threads on the other end.

    How Do These Fittings Work?

    Now that we know about the different types of threaded fittings, it is important to know how they work. For a hose thread connection to make a tight bond, pressure is applied to a washer seating within the female fitting and all that is needed to create this pressure is hand-tightening of the fittings. Pipe threads for their watertight seal using Teflon tape and a wrench to tighten the seal.
    You will find a variety of drip irrigation parts in both pipe thread or hose thread fittings. Drip Depot carries a wide array of drip irrigation components in standard hose thread fittings so they can be easily attached to any garden hose and used within minutes of set-up. We also carry a full line of adapters to be used with other drip irrigation components that have either pipe thread fittings or any other type of fitting on the market. 
    As always, Drip Depot staff is available to assist you in obtaining the right items to make the right connections for your particular drip irrigation system. We love getting feedback, so please feel free to share your experiences on this topic, whether or not you found this article helpful, and if there are any specific topics you would like us to cover in the future.
      Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone.  If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: 

      Wednesday, July 16, 2014

      Tips for Helping Your Plants Survive a Drought

      July 16, 2014

           Whether you live in the dry, arid Southwest, or the North East corner of the United States, you will at some time have to face a drought. It may not be as bad in your area as it is in others, but it’s still a drought nonetheless and your plants will suffer for it if you don’t take action now.
           Using a drip irrigation system is your best defense against drought conditions and your garden withering away. The advanced watering techniques used in modern drip irrigation systems can keep your plants watered and healthy without any extra effort on your part.
           During a drought, the lack of water can kill your plants’ root systems quickly and without much warning. This is why getting water to the roots during a drought condition is more important than ever. If you notice your soil becoming hard and compact or the leaves on your plants falling off, you need to get them more water quickly. With a drip irrigation system, that watering is done for you automatically. 

      Drip Irrigation to the Rescue!

           Using drought resistant plants for your landscape is an easy way to protect those plants from drought related damage, but there are no fruits or vegetable plants that are considered truly drought resistant. If your garden is in need of water and your plants are suffering, you may not even be able to water them if you live in certain parts of the country that places limits on how much you can water. This is another instance where drip irrigation watering will come into play. Drip irrigation systems use much less water than conventional watering methods and will enable your plants to remain healthy while others are withering and dying right before your eyes. A drip irrigation system will also reduce your overall water consumption by 30 to 50% compared to other watering methods in use today. 
          When watering your plants, you shouldn’t overwater as this could cause as much damage as a lack of water could. You want a proper wetting pattern that targets the root zones and will give them just enough water to remain moist and not oversaturated. Watering early in the day is best and if you are experiencing a drought condition, avoid using fertilizer as certain ingredients in them could harm the root systems of your plants if not enough water is present.

      Scheduled Watering Made Easy

           Using a drip irrigation system, you are able to water several times per week using less water and still maintaining the health of your plants.  Letting the top few inches of soil dry out between watering will allow the roots and soil organisms to breathe properly and, when combined with a 3 or 4-inch layer of organic mulch, plants will use almost all of the water that you provide with little evaporation loss, especially in areas with high temperatures and/or wind. When using a drip irrigation system, you can also add a drip line to it that will allow water to enter the soil at predetermined spots getting more water to the plants’ roots where it’s needed most.
           When prioritizing your watering schedule during drought conditions, remember to water newly planted ones first and them others based on how they can handle the stress of a drought. Start with new plants, then older, more established plants, trees and finally your grass if you are able to. Grass will normally turn green very quickly when water becomes available again which is why they are last on this list and your trees will take more water than any of your other plants combined.
           Today’s drip irrigation systems work in a wide variety of conditions, but during a drought is where they really shine. Being able to water your plants and keep them healthy using very little water is a gardener’s dream come true and only a drip irrigation system can make that happen. Drip irrigation systems are highly effective, very efficient and can save you thousands of dollars per year in water costs. With drip irrigation and with your help, drought conditions don't have to result in the devastation of your plants. Happy gardening!

        Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone.  If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: 

        Wednesday, June 18, 2014

        Customer Spotlight: Sam R.

        JUNE 18, 2014

        Drip Depot is proud to present Sam’s garden. As you may already know, Sam was one of our 2013 Drip Depot Garden Photo Contest winners and he has agreed to an interview with us where he shares his thoughts on drip irrigation and maybe even some gardening tips along the way.

        Drip Depot: Hi Sam, what gardening projects do you have going on right now and how has drip irrigation helped you face any gardening challenges that you may have had?
        Sam: I went with an elevated and container garden because of my wife; she has fibromyalgia and it’s easier for her to work with them. So besides the containers on the patio, we have 4 large flower beds (7x30, 7x40, “2”, and 7x20). I knew it would be easier to water them all using a drip irrigation system. It saves water and being on a timer, I know exactly how much and when to water. I have 4 fruit trees also with a drip system and a variety of bushes and shrubs throughout the flower beds. 

        Drip Depot:  When did you first learn about drip irrigation and its usefulness in creating a lush, healthy garden?
        Sam: In the late 60’s my older brother worked for a landscape company and he was sent to a class to learn about drip irrigation. The company landscaped an apartment complex and put in a drip irrigation system. I was hired part time to assist my brother at the complex; I watched and learned about drip irrigation but didn’t really use it in my own garden until recently.

        Drip Depot: Did you find it easy to locate educational information on drip irrigation and where did you look?
        Sam:   When I first started Googling drip irrigation, I found your website and it had a lot of really useful information that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I found educational videos and step-by-step procedures for designing and building my own drip irrigation system at home.

        Drip Depot:  How long have you been using drip irrigation and how has it helped your garden?
        Sam:  I have used drip irrigation in my own garden for about 3 years now and it has enabled my plants to grow stronger and healthier in less time than ever before.

        Drip Depot: Thank you Sam for taking the time to talk with us today and share your insight into drip irrigation systems and how they can help gardeners everywhere enjoy a more lush and fruitful garden. 

        If anyone else has a project and would like to share their personal experience with drip irrigation we would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us today and share your story.

        Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone.  If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: 

        Wednesday, June 11, 2014

        Don't Make This Mistake

        JUNE 11, 2014

        Drip irrigation professionals note that the most common mistake made by first time drip Irrigation DIYers is: over-tightening.  More specifically over tightening of head assembly parts.  Just a quick review a head assembly consists of a timer(optional), backflow preventor, filter, pressure regulator, and tubing adapter.  It is human nature to crank down on something and want it to be as tight as possible when installing threaded parts (especially ones that will hold water).  However, over tightening head assembly parts for a drip irrigation system can actually cause the parts to crack or develop hairline fractures that will allow water to seep out.  We recommend simply hand tightening the parts to each other. 
        In addition, we recommend to inspect that each part has a washer installed before installing, that is if you are using hose thread fittings.  Pipe thread fittings do not use washers.

        What if There is a Leak?

        Of course if you turn on your system and see that water is leaking out of a connection point, then go ahead and give that spot a little more torque to seal up the leak.  Even in this situation be gentle.  Again, before cranking down on any leaking area, you will want to make sure that the washer has not fallen out and that it is still in good working order.  Missing washers are by far the largest reason for leaking parts.
        While we are talking about head assembly parts and leaks, it is a good time to talk about backflow preventers.  We also get a lot of calls and emails saying that their backflow preventor leaks but only when the system turns off.  This is actually good news.  The backflow preventer is designed to release water when the system is turned off.  The reason for a backflow preventer is to keep water in the drip irrigation system from getting back into the main water supply.  Once the system is turned off and the pressure begins to drop, the backflow preventer or otherwise known as ‘check valve’ opens up and releases any water trying to flow backwards due to the back pressure in the line.  So the backflow preventer will release water after the system is turned off.  If you see this, rest assured that your system is working as it should be.  
        One last note on head assemblies and leaking.  The head assembly components for drip irrigation are not designed to be under constant pressure.  The maximum amount of time these parts are designed to be pressurized is 12 hours.  Never install them above a timers.  If they are left under constant pressure they will fail.

        Pliers? Wrenches? No!

        Never, in any circumstance use tools like pliers and wrenches to “tighten” the head assembly connections.  We get a dozen or so calls every year from customers stating that they can’t figure out why some piece in there head assembly started leaking because they made sure the connections were tight using a wrench.  It is always hard to break the bad news that they damaged the item by using a wrench and that is the cause of the leak.  Please refrain from using tools to “tighten” your head assembly components. 

          Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone.  If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: 

          Wednesday, June 4, 2014

          Who Wants to Do Less Work and Have Healthier Plants? 

          JUNE 4, 2014

          When was the last time you read something that said if you do less you will get more and it was true? We are constantly bombarded by advertising and offers that seem too good to be true, and the truth is that nearly every time, they are too good to be true. However, drip irrigation systems really do give you healthier plants with a lot less work. 

          Less Work?

          Let’s look at the “less work” claim. A drip irrigation system will require an upfront time investment in the form of planning your system, ordering the parts, and installing the system. This will be more than compensated for with time saved in hand watering this summer. The amount of time varies based on the size and complexity of your project. Someone with two 4x8 raised beds can easily order our basic raised bed kit and install it in an hour or so. If the area you wish to water is larger and doesn’t fit a kit exactly, then there will be more time spent on design and choosing the right parts. However, the larger the area, the more time you will save after the system is installed. 
          Once the system is installed, that’s when the time saving begins. The biggest savings will come from not having to hand water or move a sprinkler around your yard to water your plants daily. Once a drip system is in place with a timer, you will have to spend zero time watering. This can save you anywhere from minutes to hours every day during the summer. 

          Put Water Where It Belongs

          Another awesome fact about drip irrigation is that it delivers water directly to the roots of the plants you want to water. The benefit of this is that there is no standing water around the plants you wish to water, thus limiting excess water that encourages weed growth. Now drip irrigation won’t eliminate weeds, but it will without a doubt reduce the number of weeds in your garden. I am sure that most gardeners would agree that pulling fewer weeds is a great thing. A drip irrigation system will reduce the amount of work you need to do because it will eliminate the amount of time spent hand watering or dragging hoses around as well as greatly reduce the number of weeds that need to be pulled in your garden.

          What About Healthier Plants?

          So what about healthier plants? Drip irrigation systems do create healthier plants. Above, I touched on the fact that drip systems deliver water directly to the root system of the plant. Well this has two big benefits. The first is that water is not sprayed on the leaves of the plants. Water on leaves during the summer encourages mold or bacteria to grow, which can damage or kill plants. Drip irrigation delivers the water to the roots only, keeping leaves dry and not encouraging mold or bacteria growth.
          The second healthy benefit is that when water is supplied to the roots consistently day after day, plants become less stressed. A plant that is less stressed grows faster and larger. If the plant is a crop, this can result in increased crop yields. This has been found to be true in university studies. 
          It may seem too good to be true, but a drip irrigation system can give you healthier plants by doing less work. If you want help planning your system, contact us via email or phone or check out our installation guide. It will get you up to speed and make sure you get everything needed for your system—the first time. 

            Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone.  If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: 

            Wednesday, May 28, 2014

            An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

            MAY 28, 2014

            That is how the old adage goes, and nothing is truer when it comes to drip irrigation systems. Drip irrigation systems are easy to install and do work so well that it’s easy to forget about checking in on them. Often the only time a problem is brought to our attention is when we either see our plants wilting or see a stream of water shooting out somewhere along the tubing. Blame it on Murphy’s law, but problems seem to arise during extended dry periods when plants need water the most.

            Where to Check First?

            What should be periodically checked in a drip irrigation system to keep things running smoothly? Let’s start with the most overlooked spot: the filter. All of the filters that we sell come with removable screens that can be cleaned. It’s important to open up your filter and check the screen. If you notice buildup on the screen, the screen should be removed and cleaned. Once cleaned, put it back in and close up the filter unit.  This short video shows how to access the filter screen in our canister filters.
            We can’t stress enough the importance of checking on your filter. It is your first and last line of defense against debris that may enter your system. Cleaning the filter screen removes debris and keeps it from entering your system and clogging your drippers—and if your drippers are not cleanable, this would result in having to replace them completely. That’s not to mention that a filter screen that’s choked with debris will also block water flow through your system, which will impede your system from delivering the amount of water it’s designed to deliver.

            Beyond the Filter

            Beyond checking the filter, we recommend periodically walking your system while it is running. When walking a system, look at each dripper and make sure that water is coming out—and that it’s coming out at the expected flow. If water is coming out but at a much slower rate, this could be a sign of a dripper that is close to being clogged. If the dripper is cleanable, remove the head and clean out any debris. If it is not cleanable, then it’s up to you to choose to replace it if you feel that the plant is not getting enough water to be healthy. If you don’t clean or replace a dripper that is dripping slower than the other drippers, you will want to make note of it.
            While walking your system, be on the lookout for any water that may be leaking out around fittings. As systems pressurize and depressurize, fittings can sometimes begin to slip; additionally, wildlife such as deer moving through the area can dislodge tubing and fittings. It is always recommended to walk your line periodically throughout the season to make sure that the system remains in good working order. 
            Lastly, as you inspect your system, look for any holes in the tubing or wet spots around tubing where no drippers are present. Rodents like to chew on the tubing, and they can puncture it. A bad spot in tubing is easy to repair with a coupler. However, unexpected holes in tubing will cause the system to depressurize and thereby not function properly. It is good to spot these holes early.
            Prevention isn’t exciting and can be easily forgotten, but we do recommend checking in on your drip system at least once or twice a year, in the spring and midsummer. By doing so, you will keep your plants healthier and save time and money. 

              Written by Mike Ricker | Mike Ricker is always looking for ways to make drip irrigation easier for everyone.  If you found this article useful or have a great tip please pass it on to Mike at: