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Saturday, December 10, 2011


Long-term Seed Drying & Storage
This is a really important bit. You need to dry your seed out, or it will not keep.
Seed that is air-dry is not really properly dormant - it’s just napping;
so it is still burning through its stored reserves of energy and will soon run flat - like a mobile phone left on.
Also, you can't put it in a sealed container as it is still breathing - it would suffocate. And without a sealed container, it will soon reabsorb water from the air on the first humid day, and start getting ready to germinate.
How can we dry the seed at home? We'll use dry rice to suck the water out of the seed & get it really dry. Then it will hibernate completely.
You need to get:
  • a big jam-jar with a good lid,
  • an old pair of tights,
  • a rubber band,
  • and some rice
You need to use at least twice as much rice as you have seed. It doesn't matter if you have too much rice, but too little won't work.
Bake the rice on a tray in the oven for 45 minutes until it is bone dry. While it is still hot, put it in the jam-jar, about half full, and screw the lid on .
Wait patiently until the rice is cool. (If you rush this you'll cook your seeds.) So you now have a jam jar 1/2 full of very dry, cool rice.
Put your seed in a bag made by cutting off the foot of the tights, and tie it in with a rubber band. Put it in with the cool dry rice. Put the lid on tightly, so damp air can't get in.
Leave your seed sealed in the jar with the dry rice for a fortnight, and the dampness in the seed will be drawn out into the rice.
You now have bone-dry seed that you can safely seal in a plastic bag, and it will keep for several years.
Passing it Round
This is also important. You will have huge amounts of seed. If you are sure you avoided crossing, and that your plants were nice and healthy, then you have a valuable thing there.
You will get about two and a half kilos of seed from a 20-foot-long bed of 30 plants. Now that's actually three-quarters of a million seeds - and if every one of those was given away or swapped, and then grown, you will have created more than 500,000 kilograms of kale! This is more than enough to feed all your friends and neighbors, and their families.
So you can see that even one person, on a small scale, can make a real contribution to local food security. Take your spare seed to a local seed swap, or even better, organize your own. Get together with your friends or family and set up a seed-circle: one person can grow kale seed, another parsnips, another cucumber, etc etc. You'll all have bags of seed - you can all just swap with each other, so no-one has to save seed from more than a couple of things, yet you all get seed of everything.
It will save you a fortune, and you'll get great, locally-adapted varieties. Just remember, all this is only possible because you are growing real, open-pollinated seed. You can't do this with hybrid (F1) varieties. Funny how the seed companies are so keen on selling you hybrid seed, isn't it?


Saving Flower Seeds

Flower seed heads fall into 2 main types - those that form pods with the seeds inside like poppies, love-in-a-mist (nigella), hosta, impatiens, etc., and those that form tufts with the seeds joined to a base and the ends open to the air like marigolds, sweet williams, carnations, sunflowers, etc.
Pod-Type Seeds
When the seeds are ripe, the pod will split or even burst open with surprising force - like impatiens for example.  The trick is to recognize when they are nearly ready so you can harvest them before the pods split and spill the seed.  For seed pods like sweet peas, lupines, nigella (shown here), cleome, and others whose pods turn dark or straw-colored long before they will split to expose their seeds, harvesting is simple.  Using a small bag or a mailing envelop, place this immediately below the pod and snip off the entire pod with shears so it falls into the container.
For seed pods like those of impatiens which remain green, a little more guesswork is required.  When you see a pod has grown to approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch in diameter, it is just about ready to "pop".  Try to get the pod inside of the paper bag or envelop before cutting it from the plant, as it may explode on you with the least bit of contact or movement.
Store the paper container in an airy, dry location to let the pods dry completely.  Then crush them with your hands through the bag or envelope.  For larger seeds like the lupines or sweet peas, you can easily remove the bits of pod leaving only the seed.  For tiny seed like poppy or nicotiana, carefully empty the contents onto a sheet of paper and using tweezers if necessary, remove the larger bits of pod, and sift the rest through a fine sieve into a bowl.
Put them into a labelled, sealed container that will keep humidity out, and store in a cool, dark place until it's time to start seeding in spring.

Tuft-Type Seeds
It's easy to tell when tuft-forming seeds like sunflowers are ready - the trick is to beat the squirrels and birds to them!  When the shells have formed, and begin to loosen, they are ready to harvest.  Shake them off the flower into a container held below the flower head, or remove the flower head and pick them off one at a time.
For flowers like marigolds, wait until the petals from the spent flowers have turned crispy brown, or have fallen off completely, and the base of the "tuft" has grown quite large in comparison to the size at the time the flower was spent.  Often, the leafy calyx holding the tufts together at the base begins to split.  For ones like clematis shown here, wait until the seed head becomes feathery-looking.  Hold a paper bag or mailing envelope below the seed head and snip off the head letting it drop into the paper container.
Let the seeds dry thoroughly in an airy, dry location in the paper container.  Then crush them with your hands while they are inside the bag or envelope.  Remove as much of the dried bits from the seeds as you can.
Put them into a labelled, sealed container that will keep humidity out, and store in a cool, dark place until it's time to start seeding in spring.

Saving Tomato Seeds

Preserve seed only from nonhybrid (open-pollinated) tomatoes.  They produce offspring just like themselves, with only slight variations.  On the other hand, hybrid tomatoes,  which include most modern varieties, produce offspring that won't necessarily look or taste the same as the parents.

Preserve seed that hasn't been cross-pollinated.  All tomatoes are self-pollinating, but a few kinds (currant or potato-leaf types like 'Brandywine') can be cross-pollinated by some insects.  If you're not growing currant or potato-leaf types, or you're growing just one of these in addition to other types of tomatoes, you can save seed from this year's harvest.  To prevent cross-pollination in the future, cover flowers with a bag made from cheesecloth or spun-polyester fiber (available at nurseries) before blossoms open.  Tag the covered flower stem with brightly colored yarn.  Remove the cover when fruits are developing.
·         Harvest fruits when they're thoroughly ripe and soft.  Tomato seeds are enclosed in a gel sac; to remove the sac and to help destroy seed-borne diseases, put them through a fermentation process.
·         Wash the fruit, then cut it in half across the middle (not the stem end). Gently squeeze seeds and juice into a labeled glass or plastic container. Fill containers about half full, then set them out of direct sun in an area where you won't be bothered by the ripening odor or fruit flies.  (You can cover if you prefer, but keep them out from under your nose when you open the container to stir them about now and then.)
·         Allow the seed mixture to sit until the surface is partially covered with whitish mold (in three to five days).  In warm climates, you may need to add a little water midway through the process to keep the seeds afloat.  Scrape off the white mold with a spoon, being careful not to remove seeds.
·         Fill the container with water, then stir; the good seeds will sink to the bottom.
·         Pour off and discard floating seeds and pulp.  Repeat until the good seeds are clean. Pour the cleaned seeds into a fine strainer; rinse and drain.
·         Sprinkle seeds onto a plate and allow them to dry for one to three days, depending on the weather.  Keep them out of direct sun.  To make sure they dry thoroughly and don't stick together, stir twice a day.  Store dried seeds in a cool, dry, dark place in individually labelled airtight containers until planting time next spring.

Saving Pepper Seeds
Peppers are the easiest seed to save.  The seeds are mature after the peppers have changed color to their final stage of ripeness.  The color is usually red, to a dark red-brown for non-hybrid peppers.

Again, it is important to save seed only from heritage or open-pollinated types of peppers, which include almost all the hot peppers, and those like cubanelle, Italian and shepherd type peppers.

Cut the peppers open, scrape the seeds onto a plate, eat the pepper and let the seeds dry in airy, shaded place, testing them occasionally until they break rather than bend.  Then store in a labelled, air-tight container in a cool, dry, dark location.

Saving Curcurbit Seeds
The Cucurbits family, crops such as squash, cucumbers, gourds, eggplant, pumpkins and melons must be pollinated by insects, so unless close relatives (of the same species) have been separated by a half-mile or more, you'll get some kind of squash surprise if you grow seeds. 
Melons and Winter Squash
Seeds of  melons and winter squash are ready for saving when the fruits are ripe and ready to eat.  Simply pluck the seeds from the fruit.  Rinse or rub under running water in a sieve to remove any pulp, and let dry completely in a cool, airy location.

They are dry enough when they break, rather than bend.  Store in a labelled, sealed container in a dark, dry and cool location.
To save the seeds of eggplants, you'll need to wait until the fruits are far past the stage when you'd pick them for kitchen purposes.  Left on the plant, purple eggplant varieties will ripen to a dull-brownish color and will turn yellowish-green.  The white ones become golden.  Eggplants ready for seed saving will be dull, off-colored and hard.

Cut the ripe eggplants in half and pull the flesh away from the seeded areas.  If you want to save more than a few seeds, a food processor comes in handy to mash the flesh and expose the seeds.  Let them dry completely.  They are dry enough when the seeds can't be nicked by a fingernail.  Save in a labelled, sealed container in a cool, dark, dry location.

After cucumbers ripen, they change color and start to become mushy.  NOTE:  Remember, if you stop picking cucumbers, their vines will stop producing new fruit, so you may want to pick your seed-savers toward the end of the season.

Cut the ripe cucumber in half and scrape the seeds into a bowl.  To remove their slimy coating, rub them gently around the inside of a sieve while washing them or soak them in water for 2-days.  Rinse and dry completely.  They are dry enough when they break rather than bend.  Store in a labelled, sealed container in a cool, dark, dry location.

Summer Squash
You'll need to let your summer squash ripen past the tender stage, too.  When you can't dent the squash with a fingernail, it's ready to have its seed saved.  Pick it, cut it open, scrape the seeds into a bowl, wash, drain and let dry completely.

They are dry enough when they break rather than bend.  Store in a labelled, sealed container in a cool, dark, dry location.

And then there's Watermelons.  After finishing off the tasty flesh, put the seeds (spitting contests optional) in a strainer and add a drop of dish washing liquid to remove any sugar and saliva left on the seeds.

Let them dry thoroughly and then store in a labelled, sealed container in a cool, dark, dry location.

Peas and Beans
Peas and beans will be left on the vine far longer than the eating stage.  Once the pods have turned very hard and leathery and the bumps from the inner beans are very apparent and firm feeling when squeezed, they are ready to harvest for seed.  
Split the pods and remove the seeds.  Let dry completely - they should be so hard that you can't nick them with a fingernail.  Store in an air tight container, in a cool, dry, dark location.

Sex Ed for Gardeners  
Flowering plants reproduce sexually.  Some plants are male, some are female.  Most plants with which we will deal have "perfect"  flowers, meaning they are both male and female and have both kinds of parts.

The male part is the stamen, which produces the yellow grains of pollen.  The female part is the pistil, in the center of the cluster of stamens.  When the pollen from the stamen lands on the stigma, (the top of the pistil or female part) a tube develops connecting the stigma to the ovary at the base of the style and allowing the pollen to fertilize the ovary.  The ovary swells and the seeds develop within it.  The swollen ovary is better known as a fruit.  

If there are no insects around to help your plants "have sex", you have to do it yourself.  Using a a soft artist's paintbrush, move some pollen from the stamen to the pistil, the way bees, bugs and wind do.  Not much to it, you just give nature a better chance.  That's where seeds (the fruit) come from.


Reading a Fertilizer Label
You want to make sure your plants are getting the nutrition they need to do you proud, but there are so many choices when it comes to selecting fertilizer. How do you know what is really in the bag? There are certain rules that all fertilizer makers must follow when they label their products and understanding these rules can make comparing fertilizers much easier.
1.   Major Ingredients: Most commercial fertilizers have 3 numbers on the front label, separated by dashes. For example: 5-10-5. This is the fertilizer analysis or percentage by weight of the 3 major nutrients plants need: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in that order. These are abbreviated as N-P-K.
So if you purchased a 10 pound bag of fertilizer labeled 5-10-5, it would contain 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 5% potassium. The remaining 80% could be comprised of other nutrients and filler.
Always check the ingredients listed on any bag of fertilizer you intend to buy. If the label says it contains sewage sludge or leather meal do not use it in your vegetable garden because it may contain heavy metals which are not good to eat.           
  • When you look at a bag of fertilizer the label will have 3 numbers printed on the bag. They represent the combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer.
  • Each number represents how many parts of each element is mixed in to produce the type of fertilizer in the bag.
  • Read the instruction label carefully. It will tell you when, how and on which plants it should be used.
  • If you aren’t sure, just ask the salesperson who works in the garden store before you purchase any chemicals. They will be happy to help you chose the right blend for your plants.

1st Number=Nitrogen

  • Nitrogen helps plants grow faster but too much of it will burn the roots and prevent flowering.
  • Too little nitrogen will make green leaves turn a lighter shade and cause the older leaves to turn yellow.
  • The best type of nitrogen-rich fertilizer should have Slow Release Formula printed on the bag label. It dissolves slowly so the plants don’t get too much nitrogen at once.
  • If you can use organic matter like compost instead of purchased fertilizer you will still provide your plants with all the nitrogen they need and you won’t be using chemicals.

2nd number=Phosphorus

  • Phosphorus helps plants form new roots, develop seeds, fruits and flowers. It also increases a plant’s ability to resist diseases.
  • Plants that aren’t getting enough phosphorus will have darker old leaves or develop a reddish colour.
  • The plant will start to produce poorer flowers and fruit when the needs more phosphorus.
  • It should be added to the when you are tilling because it tends to stay put in one spot.

3rd Number=Potassium

  • Potassium helps increase a plant’s disease resistance and make the stems strong and keep it growing vigorously.
  • Too little potassium will show up as a general slowing of growth and leaves that are smaller than usual.
  • Potassium mixed into fertilizer will give plants the boost they need.

Fertilizing Seedlings:

  • When your seedling’s second set of leaves, called true leaves, have unfurled you can fertilize your new plants.
  • Purchase Concentrated Water Soluble Fertilizer specially made for seedlings. The fertilizer should have the numbers 10-52-10 or 10-30-10 on the label.
  • Ask an adult to help you prepare the fertilizer. The directions usually require ½ tsp (5 ml) of fertilizer to 4 cups (1 l) of but this mixture is too strong for seedlings and will burn them.
  • Mix just ¼ tsp (2.5 ml) to 8 cups (2 l) of in a clean pop bottle that has a lid.

2.   Complete Fertilizers: Fertilizers that contain all three major nutrients are considered complete fertilizers. There are specialized fertilizers which are called incomplete because they lack one or more major nutrients such as a fertilizer labeled 0-20-20.
3.   Fertilizer Ratio (An easier comparison): An easier way to compare the numbers is to break them down to the fertilizer ratio or the amounts of the 3 major nutrients in relation to each other. A 5-10-5 fertilizer has a ratio of 1-2-1. This becomes important when looking for a fertilizer for a specific need. A 1-2-1 ratio is often recommended for vegetables, which need plenty of phosphorous to set fruit. 1-2-1 could be 5-10-5, 10-20-10 or any similar extrapolation.
4.   Other Ingredients: Any additional ingredients will be listed on the side label. This may include other nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, micronutrients and even the percentage of organic matter.
5.   Organic fertilizers: Organic fertilizers must specify which nutrient(s) is organic and it must be identified as either synthetic and/or natural, by percentage. For example: 20% of Nitrogen organic (6% synthetic, 14% organic). When a fertilizer is labeled "organic", it simply means it contain carbon atoms. It can be naturally produced from plant or animal tissue or synthetically manufactured.
1.   Having a soil test done before you start adding amendments will tell you what you actually need. If your soil pH is too high or too low, your plants will not be able to access some nutrients, even if they are present in the soil.
2.   There is no one size fits all fertilizer. Fertilizer choice depends on the type of plant being grown and the soil it is being grown in.
3.   Always follow the label instructions when using any registered garden product. Just because a little is good, it doesn't follow that a lot is better.
4.   You can use less of fertilizers with high analysis numbers than with lower numbers. Five pounds of 10-20-10 would give you the same nutrient value as 10 pounds of 5-10-5.
5.   Organic fertilizers made from natural ingredients often have lower concentrations of the three major nutrients, so you will need to use larger amounts. However, they do contain many other nutrients that feed both the plant and the soil. If you are using a synthetic fertilizer, you should supplement with some type of organic matter such as compost or manure, to maintain soil health.


Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of irrigating. While sprinkler systems are around 75-85% efficient, drip systems typically are 90% or higher. What that means is much less wasted water! For this reason drip is the preferred method of irrigation in the desert regions of the United States. But drip irrigation has other benefits which make it useful almost anywhere. It is easy to install, easy to design, can be very inexpensive, and can reduce disease problems associated with high levels of moisture on some plants. If you want to grow a rain forest however, drip irrigation will work but might not be the best choice!
Drip irrigation (sometimes called trickle irrigation) works by applying water slowly, directly to the soil. The high efficiency of drip irrigation results from two primary factors. The first is that the water soaks into the soil before it can evaporate or run off. The second is that the water is only applied where it is needed, (at the plant's roots) rather than sprayed everywhere. While drip systems are simple and pretty forgiving of errors in design and installation, there are some guidelines that if followed, will make for a much better drip system. The purpose of this tutorial is to guide you toward materials and methods that will increase the benefits of your new drip system, while steering you away from some common misconceptions and practices that can cause you trouble.
Parts of a Drip system:
If you don't know a lateral from a pressure regulator start by learning about the basic parts of a typical drip irrigation system. I strongly suggest that even if you are familiar with drip irrigation you start by re-familiarizing.                 
Prescriptive Drip Design Guidelines:
These guidelines will provide you with all the information necessary to design a residential drip system for a typical yard. These guidelines are what is termed a "prescriptive standard" in the building industry. A prescriptive standard is a set of rules and/or methods that, when followed, allow you to skip the engineering calculations for a design. Obviously this saves a lot of time and effort in preparing a design. The downside to a prescriptive standard design is that it tends to "over-design" in order to make the design "one size fits all". Unlike sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation systems are much more forgiving of design error, the cost of over sizing the materials is minimal, and so a prescriptive design method works very well for almost everyone. To prepare a fully engineered drip irrigation design requires a massive number of difficult mathematical calculations. If there was ever a great place to use prescriptive standards for the design, it is drip irrigation!
Emitter Type and Flow:
Use pressure compensating emitters if you have an elevation difference of over 1,5 meters (5 feet) in the area you are irrigating. For more level areas turbulent flow emitters will work great and are often less expensive. For gravity flow systems use short-path emitters, they typically work better than the others at very low water pressures.
For most soil types 2,0 l/hr (0.6 gph) emitters work well and are more economical. For sandy soil use 4,0 l/hr (1 gph) emitters.
How Many Emitters are Needed?
1 or 2 emitters per plant, depending on the size of the plant. Trees and large shrubs may need more. Obviously, using two allows for a backup if one clogs up (which happens now and then, even on the best designed and maintained drip systems.) But just as important, more emitters also wet more soil area. This results in more roots, and a healthier, happier plant. Exception: if the plants are very close together you may need to use less than 2 per plant in order to maintain the minimum spacing between emitters. Minimum spacing for emitters: In most situations install emitters at least 450mm (18") apart. A good default spacing for quick and dirty design is to space the emitters 600mm (24") apart. For supplemental watering of low-water-use plants, use one emitter per plant. Supplemental watering is used for establishment of drought tolerant plants that are not likely to need irrigation once they have developed a good root system, or might be used to apply a little extra water now and then to make them a bit more lush. Use of low-water plants with supplemental drip irrigation is considered very "green" and is the current trend in landscape design.
Rule of thumb- install emitters 600mm (24") apart under 80% of the leaf canopy of the plant. That's where the roots are, and the roots need water. If the soil is very permeable install emitters 300mm to 450mm (12-18 inches) apart.
What valve type and size to use:
Use a 20mm (3/4") valve for most systems. Any type of valve may be used.
How many emitters per valve?
Use the charts below to determine how many emitters to install on each valve circuit.

Emitter volume used
Any water supply that comes out of a building, such as a hose bib. Any system with a pump*.
20mm (3/4") water supply. Use a 20mm (3/4") valve.
25mm (1") water supply. OK to use a 20mm (3/4") valve.
2,0 l/hr (0.6 gph)
4,0 l/hr (1 gph)

*Pumps can be tricky. This is a conservative figure in order to make it work with the majority of pump fed systems. You may be able to use a larger number of emitters by calculating the actual output of your pump.
Water supplies coming out of a building are also a problem. The piping in buildings is almost never designed to carry large amounts of water such as is used by irrigation systems. To be safe I assume you have significant restrictions. 95% of buildings have these restrictions so don't increase the flow unless you really know what you're doing. Increasing the flow could cause extreme damage to the plumbing in the building.
Backflow Preventer:
Drip emitters rest directly on the soil so it is especially important to have a backflow preventer to prevent water contamination by soil-borne disease. There are several types that will work depending on your situation and local codes.
Mainlines & Laterals.
Use 25mm (1 inch) PVC, PEX or polyethylene irrigation pipe for mainlines ("mains") and laterals. The total length of the mainline and the lateral together should not be more than 120 meters (400 feet). So you could have 100 meters of mainline and 20 meters of lateral, for a total of 120 meters of both. But you should not have 80 meters of mainline and 60 meters of lateral because the total of both would be more than 120 meters. Remember mainline is the pipe before the control valve, lateral is pipe after the control valve. Many drip systems won't need mainlines or laterals. Or they may need just a mainline, or just a lateral.
Maximum drip tube length.
The length of drip tube (or drip hose) may not exceed 60 meters (200') from the point the water enters the tube to the end of the tube. Thus you could have 120 meters (400') of tube if the water entered the tube in the middle (that would be 60 meters from the point the water enters the tube to the end of the tube in each direction, which would be OK). You can extend one tube off of another as long as the total length of the tubes that are connected is not more than 60 meters (200').
Buried Emitters
Never bury emitters underground unless they are made to be buried. If you bury the emitter roots will grow into it and clog it. If you do want to bury the emitters do a search for "subsurface drip irrigation" to find specialty drip products designed to be buried. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for those products as they must be designed and installed to very exacting standards to avoid problems.
Buried Tube.
Don't bury the drip tube. If you do bury drip tube don't complain to me if gophers, moles or other rodents chew it up. I've seen them gnaw to pieces a buried drip system over night. One day it works, the next, it's garbage. It only takes one gopher (or mole, squirrel, etc.), and one evening! You've been warned! Other wildlife (and most dogs), will also chew the tubes. It helps if you provide a water source for them to drink from if possible. A water bowl with an emitter over it to keep it full sometimes will distract wildlife from the tubes. You may need to train your dog not to chew the tubes, dogs seem to chew on the tubes for no real reason other than to annoy you. If you want to hide the tube, dig a shallow trench for it, so that it is just below the level of the surrounding soil. Don't put dirt over the tube. Throw some mulch or bark over the top to hide the tube, or plant a low spreading plant that will grow over it and hide it.
Hard-Piped Drip Systems
A type of drip system used in commercial and high quality landscapes called "hard-piped" uses buried PVC pipe rather than poly drip tubing. The PVC pipe is installed underground and a pipe goes to each plant location, so it takes a lot of pipe. At each plant the emitters are installed above ground on short poly tubes called "risers". Hard pipe systems can be pretty expensive due. The design of a hard-piped drip system is essentially the same as shown here, except you would use PVC or larger size poly irrigation pipe in place of the inexpensive drip tubing.
Fittings- Use the correct size!
This is really important! There are many different sizes of drip tubing sold, and the fittings have to be made for the exact size tube you are using! If they aren't, they will either be very hard to install, or the tube will blow off the fitting. Sometimes it takes a week or so for the tube to come loose, but if the fitting is even 1mm too large, the tubing will come off eventually. Never heat the drip tube or use oil on it to make it easier to insert into or onto the fittings.
Stake down the Drip Tubes!
Stake the drip tubes to the ground once every meter (about 3 feet). This keeps the tubes from wandering. No kidding, they tend to move around by themselves! Staking them also helps protect them from damage. I prefer to use metal stakes as the plastic ones I've tried pull loose too easily. Wire that rusts holds even better, as the rust binds the wire to the soil. After a few days they can be almost impossible to remove. They will rust away in a few years, but by then the tubing has adapted to its position and stays in place pretty well. Standard 12 gauge wire works well, as does pieces of wire coat-hangers. Buy some coat-hangers at a yard sale or thrift store and help recycle! Bend a 300mm (12 inch) length of wire into a"U" shape to make a tubing "staple". Or you can buy metal staples that are made for holding down erosion control blankets, they work great.
Check Valves, Slopes, Hillsides:
Install check valves if the drip system is on a hillside of slope to prevent the water in the tubes from draining out through the lowest emitter each time the system stops running.
Air Vents:
Install an air vent at the highest point on each drip valve circuit. If there are multiple high points you an air vent installed at each one. Air vents should always be used for drip systems on sloped areas. Air vents are often not installed on small homeowner drip systems without any slopes. If air vents are not used be sure the emitters at the highest points are not installed where dirt could be sucked into them.
Flush Valves and End Caps
Install a flush valve or end cap at the end of each drip tube. Automatic flush valves are available, however my personal preference is for manual flush valves.
Gravity Flow Systems:
A gravity flow water source like a rain barrel can also be used to run your drip irrigation system.

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