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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
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    • CommentAuthorShepherd
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2008
     
    We are going to build a greenhouse on the back on an outbuilding, collect the rainwater from both greenhouse and outbuilding in water butts and let the surplus run into the goose pond. So far so good.

    What I'd really like to do as well, and can't see how to do it, is to have a system where when it rains
    1. The greenhouse is watered.
    2. Then the butt fills and surplus goes to the pond.

    Will be growing tomatoes so don't want to over-water them, so need to ration the water. So what I need is a system that:

    1. When it rains the water goes first into the pipes of the ground level root irrigation system.
    2. When more than a pre-set volume of water per day has gone into the irrigation system, there is some sort of diverter/valve/switch that sends the water now into the butt.

    Ideally all done mechanically - maybe float/tank/syphon sort of arrangement with a count on the number of times the syphon runs per day. (Bit like the way a dishwasher fills.)

    Any ideas? :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorTimber
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2008
     
    You can get soil moisture meters. Could you homebrew hook one of these up to an electronically controlled garden sprinker valve (assume that there is enough perssure to allow the valve to open) or something similar?

    I am sure it would be fairly easy and although you did mention a mechanical system, this would be cheep, and should be reliable.

    Just an idea :wink:

    Timber
    • CommentAuthorjoe.e
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2008
     
    There's a system used for urinals, where you have a syphonic cistern that's filled from a pipe with a tap on it (the type you adjust with a flat head screwdriver). You adjust the tap to drip in at the rate you want; when the water reaches a certain level it flushes and starts filling again. The cistern would flush into a header tank for the irrigation system.
    You could feed the cistern from a header tank with an overflow pipe leading to your water butt. The set-up would need two header tanks and the cistern, but it's all simple stuff and readily available.
    • CommentAuthorcontadino
    • CommentTimeNov 26th 2008
     
    You can get battery-powered irrigation timers. I'd recommend them as they're pretty versatile in terms of the programmes they can use. I recharge my batteries using a solar charger so it costs nothing to run.

    If you're worried about running dry, maybe you could just over-size the water butts? Maybe just link up more than one in series using a low-level connecter pipe?
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeNov 26th 2008
     
    Why wouldn't you want the water butt to supply water to the greenhouse? In other words, why do you only want to water the tomatoes when it rains?
    • CommentAuthorShepherd
    • CommentTimeNov 27th 2008
     
    I can see how what I wrote could read like that, but what I want to do is to first water the tomatoes when it rains, then fill the butt. On days it doesn't rain I'll go in and set the watering going from the butt. I want to maximise the use of rainwater directly, as
    a) That is cheaper than over-sizing the butt
    b) There is not a lot of space where it is convenient to put the butt - permanent lay out of road, hedge and outbuilding etc kind of convenient.

    The greenhouse is also going to be large - about a 12 meters long lean-to with a long row of tomatoes and cucumbers and a row of short stuff like lettuce in front, so the largest of the standard garden centre water butts may only last for a couple of days. Planning on two with a linking tube due to space restrictions and cost. Where we live - near moorland down in the SW near to the atlantic coast it rains a lot, so it would be rare to go for more than four days without seeing some rain/heavy mist/low flying cloud. I may be pessimistic on how long two butts full would last, as will be laying the irrigation tube round the plants, then putting cardboard/newpaper etc over the top to suppress weeds and keep in moisture. Any case want to preserve what is in the butts as much as possible, so can top up goose pond if it runs low.
    • CommentAuthorjoe.e
    • CommentTimeNov 28th 2008
     
    It might be worth buying a bigger water storage tank. You can get used big plastic tanks secondhand - eg . http://www.dvfuels.co.uk/category.asp?catID=5 - that way you can relax a bit about running out of water and concentrate on getting the irrigation right. It sounds as though overall volume of water through the year isn't going to be a problem for you.
    • CommentAuthordazdread
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     
    Search IBC on Ebay, 1,500 litres for £40 quid and search water computer for timed irrigation.
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