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Real Food Breakfast Stromboli

Breakfast Stromoboli

Whenever breakfast Stromboli goes on the menu for the week my kids celebrate!!  Breakfast Stromboli is one of their favorite meals and of course I enjoy making it because it has bread in it!  However, since we have switched to only eating real food I have had to change some of the ingredients of a lot of my dinner recipes so they will fit this new eating style.  I didn’t change too much of this recipe, just a little here or there, it was super easy.  I have listed my changes below.     It seems so obvious to me now but when you change to real food it makes all of your meals taste so much better!!  It is so silly to think this and kind of a no brainer but isn’t it amazing how much better real food tastes, because duh, it is real food.

I started making this meal as Pizza Stromboli and then changed it to breakfast Stromboli.  I mean who doesn’t like having breakfast for dinner?    We still do the Pizza kind too and in fact if you feel like being adventurous try out different fillings to put in the bread, I am sure it will turn out great!!

I used to use all white flour for the bread for the Breakfast Stromboli but we have slowly added whole wheat flour to all of our breads and I love the taste of this.  I do still put in about a 1/2 cup of white flour in the dough, to help it will rise nicely.  I just haven’t had time to play with the dough recipe a lot and so eventually I will convert it to all whole wheat!!   The funny thing is, my kids are so used to wheat that they don’t like the taste of white flour breads anymore.  Yes!!  Finally they have come around!!

I also use BBQ sauce that I spread on the dough for Breakfast Stromboli.   I am still trying to find the best homemade kind.  I have tried 2 different recipes and they tasted good, but more like enchilada sauce.  Here are the links to Taste of Home and My Whole Food Life.  I even looked on the ingredients list in my favorite kind and tried to mimic it but without the sugar and corn syrup, but again it tasted like enchilada sauce.   I have also tried this without BBQ sauce and it tastes just fine.   So it is up to you to put it on or not.   I am still working on it to make the perfect version or maybe I can find a healthier version at Whole Foods?

I miss our chickens!!!   I loved having our own eggs and they taste so much better, but our city still refuses to let us have chickens on our lot size.   It is so frustrating!!!  My suggestion on eggs in this recipe is to find someone at your local farmers market who sells eggs.   I just think organic is priced ridiculously high and finding a local farmer is always a better option.

The bacon or sausage does give Breakfast Stromboli a great flavor, but you don’t need to add if you don’t want it.  We used to use Turkey bacon and on occasion we still do.  However, turkey bacon may have less fat, but it doesn’t have a clean ingredient list.   There are nitrates added to it to help preserve it.   So luckily for us my sister raised a pig on her farm this year and she gave me some bacon and sausage for Christmas!!  Yes!! I love my sister!!  If you can find local bacon or sausage then of course that would be better.

Breakfast Stromboli-Real Food Version
Whole wheat Pizza Dough(recipe below)
7 Eggs
7 Tbs of whole milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ Green Pepper chopped (optional)
½ Onion chopped (optional)
6-8  Bacon Strips
3 Tbs of Homemade BBQ sauce (you can use more or less of the sauce depending on what you like.  If you add too much it will be a little overpowering. )
1 cup of shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Make the pizza dough first according to the directions.   While the dough is rising I crack my eggs and mix them together with the milk.   Heat oil in a pan and if you are using green peppers and onions sauté them first until tender then add your eggs and start cooking them.  While they are cooking you can also start cooking the bacon.

Making Breakfast Stromboli

After the dough is done rising then put it on a greased cookie sheet and roll or push out with hands until it is roughly 10×15 in size.   Using a pastry brush, spread the BBQ sauce on the dough, don’t add too much or it will spill out while cooking.   Then put your eggs on the dough and add the torn up bacon on top and then the shredded cheese.  Fold the dough up and  pinch the edges together to seal the seam shut.  Fold each end and seal them shut also.   Let the dough rise for another 30 minute.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and once the dough has rose enough then put it in the oven for 12 minutes.   If the top is brown but the bottom isn’t yet after the 12 minutes then put tinfoil over the top so it doesn’t get too brown and bake for another 3 minute and check then if not done repeat again until the bottom is a light brown.

Breakfast Stromboli 1

This makes only one Breakfast Stromboli, I always double it for my family and I also serve it with homemade hash browns!!      Have fun making it and I hope you will love it as much as my family.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe
2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm water (115 degrees)
1 tablespoon Honey
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl.  Stir in oil, honey, salt and 1 cup flour.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Add more flour if needed.

Turn dough onto floured surface:  knead until smooth and elastic (5 minutes).  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side of dough up.  Cover and let raise in a warm spot until double, around 30 minutes.

 

From the Farm Hop – February 27, 2015

Friday is here again!  We have had a fantastic week here at Stoney Acres!  Our best readership week ever with several thousand new readers!  Wow!  Thanks for joining us here!

The From the Farm Hop is a chance for bloggers to share their posts.  Each week all of the hosts choose a favorite from the prior weeks hop to feature on their sight.  This week I chose the post “Easiest Vegetables to Grow” by Tracy over at Our Simple Homestead.  It’s a great little post on the best veggies for a beginner to plant and grow in their garden.  Be sure to jump over to Tracy’s post for more details!!Easiest Vegetables to Grow

 

Now, let’s get on with the party! This week’s Favorites:

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Warmly,Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts: The Homesteading Hippy | Spring Mountain Living | Lil’ Suburban Homestead | The Homestead Lady | Urban Overalls | Once Upon A Time in A Bed of Wildflowers | Oh Sweet Mercy | Honey’s Life | Lone Star Farmstead |Stony Acres

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Growing Peas in your Garden

Growing Peas

The gardening season is getting so close I can almost feel it!!  As the first of March approaches I start getting really excited to get planting!  And one of the very first seeds we plant in the garden is peas.  So it’s time to get off our tails and get planning.  Here’s everything you have ever wanted to know about growing peas.

Types of Peas

There are 4 main types of peas, Shelling (sometimes call garden peas), Snow, Snap and dry.

Shelling peas are the type we are all use to.  These peas are grown strictly for the “pea” inside the pods and the pods themselves are tough and uneatable.  Shelling peas are the most work at harvest time because you have to shell them to remove the peas from the pod.  This is a pretty manual process and is best done with a couple of adults and 3 or 4 kids.  The adults are there to keep the kids from eating all the peas!!

Shelling Peas

Snap peas have a more tender pod that can be eaten, but the pods are allowed to develop like a shelling pea so that the peas inside are mature as well.  Snap peas are perfect for stir fry’s!!

Snow peas are grown for their eatable pods.  They are usually harvested while the pods are still small and the peas inside are immature.  Snow peas usually have a very broad flat pod.  They are great in stir fry’s, but don’t forget to eat them raw as well.  Our kids love May and June because they can have a big handful of raw snow peas for lunch every day!

Drying peas are grown for the peas.  They are allowed to stay on the plant for much longer than the other types of peas so that the pods and peas dry out.  The peas are then shelled and are great in soups.

Cool Weather

Peas are a cool weather veggie.  So what does that mean?  Peas prefer temperatures between 55° and 75° F.  Peas really start to suffer when the temperatures get above 80° F.  You need to get them in early so that they can mature before the real heat starts!  Maturity dates for most varieties of peas range between 60 to 70 days from germination, so use that as a guide when planting.  Our March 15th planted peas are usually ready to eat beginning the end of May through mid June.

Soil & Sun

Growing peas prefer a well drained soil, with lots of organic matter.  Work 2 inches of compost into the top 4 to 6 inches of the soil in the fall, then the bed is ready for planting as soon as things dry out in the spring.

Peas also need full sun.  Be careful to avoid parts of the garden that are shaded by trees or structures while the sun is still low in the sky during the spring.

Planting Times

Because of their love for cool weather, you will traditionally be growing peas in the early spring.   In our zone 5/6 garden we target March 15th each year.  That of course depends a lot on the weather and soil conditions.  Peas will germinate with soil temperatures as low as 40°F but they prefer soil temperatures between 55°and 65°F.  If your soil temps are between 55° and 65° then your seeds should germinate in about 7 to 10 days.  Generally accepted planting times for peas in the northern hemisphere are between March 15th and May 1st.  That of course depends a lot on your latitude and elevation.  In warmer climates peas can be planted in the fall and grown over the winter and planted again early in the spring.

Soil Thermometer

I bought this little soil thermometer for only $5.  It comes in really handy for telling me if it is time to get seeds planted.  In this photo its reading 40°F my bare minimum for germination.  But 40° means a slow germination, so here’s a little trick I learned in my master gardener class.

Cover With Plastic

Cover the bed you are going to be planting in with clear plastic for a couple of weeks before you plant.  This will bring the soil temps way up and also keep the soil from getting soaked in a late winter snow storm.  Be sure to use clear plastic, it lets the UV rays into the soil and keeps the heat in.

Planting your peas

The night before you plan on planting your peas I suggest you soak the peas in water.  This softens up the dried up seeds and promotes quicker germination.

Kids Love to plant peas

Plant your peas ½ to 1 inch deep and about 1 inch apart.  Most growing guides recommend planting in rows 12-24 inches apart.  My personal opinion is 24 inches is way too far apart.  12 inch spacing between rows is perfect and allows the plants in the rows to support each other as they grow.

Peas on Tomato Cage

Snap peas and sugar peas are usually taller growing and require some support.  I will often just use my tomato cages for my snow peas as the peas will be done long before the tomatoes need the cages.  Shelling or garden peas are usually self supporting.  I have found that at the very end of there production the plants will fall over.  If you want to help avoid this you can simply run some garden twine between some sticks to offer them some support.

Caring for your peas

Weeding is important; keep those weeds!  This is especially important during the first 6 weeks of growth when the plants will be most susceptible to competition from weeds.  Mulches, compost or even grass clippings will help with weeds.

Frequent water is vital for peas.  Be sure you keep the soil moist.  The nice thing about growing peas is Mother Nature usually helps with the watering in the spring, but be sure to watch them close between rain storms.  Water is most important while the peas are flowering.  Be sure to keep the soil moist during the time the pea pods are forming.

If you have amended your soil well with compost and other organic materials you shouldn’t need to fertilize your peas.  In fact, never fertilize with a nitrogen fertilizer.  Nitrogen will cause excessive leaf growth and will often delay flowering risking your entire crop.  Most peas actually take nitrogen from the air and “fix” it in their roots via the aide of soil bacteria in their roots.  Because of this, planting peas will often improve the soil for the crops that follow.

Harvesting

The appearance of flowers on your pea plants is the indication that your harvest is coming soon.  You should expect your first harvests about 3 weeks after the flowers appear.  Be sure to harvest often, every day in fact.  With most pea varieties the harvest will last about 3 weeks.  The first week will have a small amount harvested, followed by a week or so of huge harvests, which is then followed by a few days of a low trailing off harvest.  You can of course extend your pea harvest by staggering your plantings by a few weeks.  But I prefer to get it all over with at once!!  Expect about 20 pounds of shelled peas from 100 feet of plants.  So for example the bed I showed you above is 25 feet long.  We plant 3 rows of peas in that bed and end up with around 12 to 15 pounds.

Harvest Peas

You begin to harvest your shelling and snap peas when the pods have swelled to almost a round shape.  You want the pods to be full and solid but not bulging.  The photo above shows the various stages of pod development.  From left to right:  First on the left, this one is just getting started way to soon to pick, second from the left is close but not quite ready, the middle one is perfect, second from the right is still okay but is getting a little old, the last one the right is too old if you’ve waited this long you’ll be disappointed.

Preserving Your Harvest

Of course you want to eat as many of your peas fresh as you can!!  There is nothing better than a fresh picked pea either eaten raw or cooked.  But peas are actually one of the easiest veggies to preserve.  Peas can be canned (but you MUST use a pressure cooker), dried or our favorite frozen.

Frozen Peas

For shelling peas we simply shell them, wash them and freeze them on a cookie sheet, then put them in a bag after they are frozen.  Follow this link for a quick tutorial on how we freeze peas.

For Snap and Snow peas you must first blanch them for 2-3 minutes in a steamer before freezing.

Pests and Diseases

Peas are actually one of the least disease & pest prone plants I know.  I’ve never really had any problems with peas.  They are however susceptible to a few pests and diseases.  If you would like more information about these pests and diseases I will refer you to this excellent publication by Utah State University.

Birds can be a big problem to growing peas.  You are growing peas early in the spring when there is not a lot of food for the birds.  I have seen birds dig up new planted seeds.  Also birds will eat the newly sprouted seedlings.  In our area Quail seem to be the biggest offenders.  You can easily deter them by covering your beds with a good fabric row cover until the plants have grown to about 6 inches in height.

A few other thoughts on growing peas

Peas are self pollinating and pollination on most varieties actually occurs before the plants flower.  Because of this peas are one of the easiest plants to save seeds.  Very little, if any, cross pollination occurs when growing peas.  If you have planted an open pollinated or heirloom variety you can simply let some of the peas ripen on the plant and save them for use next year!

You can also try growing peas in the fall.  Your success will vary a lot with fall crops.  For us here in Utah planting time for fall peas is between July 15th and August 1st.  That’s a very hot time of year for us so the plants are usually under a lot of stress.  That causes our crop size and over all quality to be pretty poor.  Most years we don’t bother (although we do plant snow peas some years).  Also we always seem to go from summer to winter and pretty much skip fall around here, so we some years don’t even have time for the pods to mature.  But if you live in an area that has long cool falls then by all means plant a big crop of peas in the fall as well!

Pea Harvest

I’ve given you the basics on growing peas, so get out there and get your peas planted.

This post Shared this week on:

The Homeacre Hop

Monday Harvest Report – February 23, 2015

Whew, what a week!  This has been the most successful week we have ever seen on the blog here at Stoney Acres!  Because of some kind blogging friends sharing one of my posts from last week on both Facebook and Pinerest, we had 4000 people come to the site last week!  2,300 of them yesterday!  It feels really good to have one of our posts appreciated like that.  THANK YOU so much for reading Stoney Acres!  We are very excited to be able to say we had that many readers in a week!!

So what was the post?  This one posted last Wednesday on our PVC Drip Irrigation system.  Go check it out if you haven’t already!

Also in the rush of excitement about that post I’ve really missed promoting Valerie’s Post from Saturday on our Real Food Journey and switching to more “real food” dairy products.  So be sure to read her post as well!

Monday Harvest Report - Greens

We did have a little bit to harvest this week.  We cut a big pile of greens on Friday night.  It’s kind of a combination of lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard.  We totaled about .75 of a pound total for the week, between the Friday picking and a few others during the week.

Monday Harvest Report - Sprouts

Also this isn’t technically a garden harvest, but we did harvest a nice batch of alp-alpha sprouts on Sunday as well.  They went perfectly on the salad of mixed greens we had for lunch yesterday!

This weeks harvest brings our annual total to 4.41 pounds, of mostly greens.

Since there is so little going on in the garden right now I thought I might take a chance this week to highlight a few of my favorite blog posts from my blogging friends around the web this week.  Here’s a highlight of a few of the many posts I read:

 

First Year of Farming for Profit

Lady Lee’s home is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs.  It is follows the journey of a couple who has decided to turn some acreage that they own into a market farm.  She has some very cool stories already as they approach their first year of work!!  Go read about it.

 

No, You Can’t come to My House

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this since I started gardening.  “If something ever happens (i.e. a natural disaster, riots, etc.) we will just come to your house.  We know you have food because of your garden.”  Well my friends over over at Homestead Dreamer have an answer for that comment and the answer is NO YOU CAN’T!  I’m not sure I 100% agree with everything they said in this post, but it sure made me think a lot about how I should respond.  And reading the comments on this article was just as entertaining as reading the article itself!

New & Beginner Gardening Tips

Carole over at Garden Up Green, has a lot of good advice for new gardeners.  The thing she said that I liked the most was to start small!  I think that is super important for a new gardener.  A garden the size of mine would put fear in the heart of any new gardener.  The key to being successful with a new garden is to make it manageable and then add on as your skills improve!!

 

Well there’s this weeks Monday harvest report!  Welcome to all our new readers and please come back often.  We will have some more fun posts this week!  The pressure is on now!  We have to top last weeks readership, right!!  :)  Have a great week.

 

Real Food Journey – Real Food Dairy Products

Real Food Dairy

I love Dairy foods.  I know there is a lot of talk out there about how bad dairy is for you;  I don’t believe it!!  I realize, of course, people have food allergies or are lactose intolerant but I just don’t buy into the dairy’s bad crowd.   I just couldn’t live without it.  I love cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream and milk!!

Bagley Farm

I have great memories of going to visit my Grandpa and Grandma in Idaho on his Dairy farm when I was little, I loved it!!  But I was always super afraid of my Uncles who always threatened to throw me in the huge tub of milk in the barn!  My Grandpa drank whole raw milk every day and he lived to be 95!!!   Not having dairy isn’t a consideration for me just because of how my Grandpa ate.   Maybe this is why I love dairy!!!   I didn’t love the smell so much, we would have to come home and wash our clothes to get the dairy farm smell out!!  But I loved being there and watching my uncles work and milk the cows.

I just need to get my own cow and move to a farm somewhere in the country so I can live like my grandparents did and get out of the noisy city!!!  Sigh, oh how I wish I could!!!

Since we have moved to eating clean/real food, I had to change what I was buying in the dairy group. I love yogurt it is one of my favorite foods.  I was buying strawberry Yoplait yogurt.  This obviously doesn’t qualify as a real food,  I realized I would have to give up this yogurt.  It is full of sugar, and preservatives and additives that I just don’t want to eat anymore.   I switched to plain Greek yogurt that I buy at Costco.   It was hard at first, but as I experimented adding my own flavors, I now love this yogurt.  I add my own home grown strawberries and when I don’t have those I buy an organic frozen berry mix from Costco.  I add a little bit of raw honey, a couple tablespoons of flax and top it off with some homemade granola.  It doesn’t get better than this.  If I am having a sweet craving, this is what I eat.  I have only convinced two of my kids into eating this new yogurt but oh well my other teens just don’t know what they are missing!!

My next real food dairy item to change was sour cream.  I always bought fat free sour cream, thinking it was healthier for me because it contained zero fat; Right?  Boy was I wrong.  I was stuck in the “have to buy low fat foods and they are better for you,” trend.   When you look what they have to add to low fat and fat free foods to make them it is sickening.  I now buy full fat Daisy Sour cream or Darigold sour cream from Costco, it has one ingredient instead of 20!!  It tastes so much better and makes everything so yummy!!!

It took me awhile to change from skim milk to whole milk!!  We have just converted to all whole milk in the last few months.  I love the taste, it is so thick and creamy, and my meals that contain milk taste so much better now.  This has been a hard switch, because according to Tosca Reno’s Clean Eating, you should still do skim milk, but if you are a real foodie you should do whole milk or raw milk?   I am not completely sold on whole milk yet, but I do love the taste, I will just have to wait and see what I think, whether or not I should switch back?  Whole milk only has a couple of ingredients, and skim has just a few more, so I am still trying to decide.

Now I know if you are a “real foodie”, everything I have just switched to, should be organic and for the milk it should be pasteurized at a low temperature and be non-homogenized milk.  This is a lot of rules and so I am just still taking baby steps. It is also hard to swallow the prices on organic milk.  It is really expensive for a family of 6 like mine.  So for now I am just making these simple easy switches and maybe in the future when organic goes down in price I will move to that.  Organic and local is of course always my goal, but I can only do so much without breaking the bank.

I didn’t have to change my cheese at all because I was using mozzarella cheese already and so I am just sticking with that.  The yellow cheeses actually have dye in it, did you know that?  I found that out when I read the 100 Days of Real Food Book.  I am glad I had already switched to mozzarella years ago.   I did make one change because I was using pre-shredded dry parmesan cheese until just a few weeks ago.  I decided to buy some real parmesan. And oh my word I have been missing out on it.  It is so yummy to add on top of breadsticks or soup.  I will never go back to that disgusting kind ever again.

We also had to change what we were using for butter.  I am ashamed to admit that I used margarine instead of butter.  It of course is cheaper but have you ever looked at the ingredients list of margarine?  Yuck!!  We now buy stick butter from Costco.  I don’t eat butter a lot and when I do add it to food I try to use as little as possible.   I do substitute coconut oil for butter because it is a healthier fat.  However, the battle between whether to use margarine and butter is sold to me in the fact that butter has one ingredient,that is it!   You can’t get more natural than that, not to mention tastes a whole lot better too!!

Of course, I have to add ice cream to this dairy switch.   I love it, but since I switched to real/clean food I haven’t touched the stuff with all of the ingredients and additives and sugar, it is so bad for you.  However, I found the recipe for homemade ice cream on 100 Days of Real Food and just had to try it.   I mean we have to have a treat every once in a while!  We bought a Cusinart Ice Cream Maker from Amazon and it is the best!!  It is so easy to make homemade ice cream and it you won’t believe the taste!!   It only takes a few real food ingredients like heavy cream, milk, pure maple syrup, and vanilla.  Mix it together and letting it chill for a little bit and then when you add it to your Cusinart Ice Cream Maker it only takes 20 minutes.  I love how easy it is!!!  It is so much better than store bought…and it doesn’t even have sugar in it!!!  I have so been missing out on this little treasure.

Cusinart ice cream maker

I know what you are thinking, adding all that fat to your diet will make you gain weight, right?  Wrong!!!  Since I have been very strict with my real food and took sugar out of my diet I actually have lost weight.  I can’t believe it either but seriously it is so true.  I will be writing a blog post about what I did later so you will know how I transformed my body and went down a whole pant size in 4 months!!   I do use all of these full fat dairy products and I lost weight.  It is a lot of fat, but moderation is the key.  Obviously, just because it is real food and better for you, you don’t pile up that potato with sour cream or put tons of butter on your bread sticks either.  You still have to be careful how much you eat and how much you put on your food!!   As I have made the switch to real food dairy products, the taste of everything I make has improved.  This switch was pretty simple to do, so I would encourage you to take a look at what you consume in dairy and what the ingredient list includes and make the switch today to real food dairy!!!  Good Luck!!

From The Farm Hop – February 20, 2015

Hey guys it’s time for another installment of The From The Farm Hop!  Last week by far my favorite post was Carole at Garden up Green.  Carole’s post is about new gardeners and the need to start small!!  I say Amen to that.  You don’t know how many times over the years I’ve seen new gardeners start with a huge garden plot and then ending up discourage and giving up.  Starting small is super important!!

 

Now, let’s get on with the party! This week’s Favorites:

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PVC Drip Irrigation System for your garden

PVC Drip Irrigation System

Let me start out this post by strongly stating my opinion about drip irrigation systems.  I think some type of drip irrigation system is the ONLY way to water a garden of any size.  In fact I even know market growers with “gardens” over an acre in size that use drip systems.

There are several reasons I feel so strongly about drip systems.  First they use a ton less water.  Drip systems deliver water directly to the plants and don’t water all the surrounding empty space so they save water.  Second, because you are only watering your plants, you are by default not watering weeds.  This makes a big difference in the amount of work you have to do weeding your garden.  Third, they are much more flexible allowing you to change the configuration of your garden each year.

There are really 3 types of drip systems each has its own advantages & disadvantages:

  1. Kit systems that use distribution systems and tubing for individual plants.
  2. Soaker hoses
  3. PVC Drip Irrigation systems

Kit systems are great for bigger plants.  You can run the tubing to each tomato or squash and get the water right where you want it.  But kit systems are very expensive; to do a garden my size would take hundreds of dollars.

Soaker hoses are great for row crops but waste some water when you are dealing with larger individual plants.  They are also very expensive as you have to buy a lot of hoses to water a big garden.

PVC drip irrigation systems are the perfect solution in my opinion.  You can deal with larger plants and row crops based on the number of holes you drill in the pipes.  They are cheaper to build for larger gardens.  PVC systems can also be very flexible.  The one disadvantage is the initial set up (the first year) can take awhile because you have to drill a lot of holes in the pipe.

So let’s take a look at my PVC drip irrigation system:

PVC Drip Irrigation

Here’s a shot of it covering my whole garden.  Notice it works for both the row crops like carrots, peas, beans, potatoes and corn.  And also works perfect for larger crops like tomatoes and squash.

PVC Drip Irrigation Borrow

Here’s a shot of the drip system we use at our second “borrowed” garden.  Again it works perfectly for all the row crops we grow here.

First time set up is easy, but time consuming. The biggest time commitment comes from having to drill hundreds of holes in the pipe.  But after the first year set up and take down of the system is quick and easy!  To get started you need pipe, several connectors, elbows and tees, a drill with a couple of small drill bits and something to cut the pipe (a pvc pipe cutter or just a hack saw).

So let’s talk pipe first.  The first PVC system I set up I used ½ inch PVC pipe.  The ½ inch pipe works great for shorter lengths, but when I have to cover big long rows of 20 feet or more they don’t work quite as well.  So I have now slowly started converting all my long row crops to ¾ inch pipe.  Those pipes hold more water so the water seems to get to the end of the pipe a little better.  So for a garden like mine, if I were to do it all over again I would use all ¾ inch pipes.  If you are dealing with shorter beds, like 4 x 8 foot beds the ½ inch pipe will be fine.

PVC Drip Irrigation

For row crops I drill a 1/16 inch hole in the pipe every 6 inches.  The water from each hole soaks out about 3 inches from the center so each hole’s water meets in the middle.

PVC Drip Irrigation

For larger crops, I drill maybe 1 or 2 slightly larger holes maybe 1/8 inch right where the base of the plant is.  Then when I put in my plants I form a small basin of soil around the plant to help keep the water right around the base.  Then I simply lay out my watering system BEFORE I plant each year, then I know where to put the plants so they will have a water hole close buy.

PVC Drip Irrigation

For longer stretches of pipe I simply join the pipe with a coupling piece.

Then I of course add an end plug on one end.

PVC Drip Irrigation tees

Most of the time I will use 2 or 3 rows of pipe in my 4 foot beds.  The number really depends on the crops I am growing.  So I uses some 90 degree elbows and 3 sided tee’s to  create a little distribution system at the top of the bed like you see in the picture above.

DO NOT under any circumstance glue the pipes together.  This will be a low pressure system and the pipes will stay together WITHOUT GLUE.  If you glue the pipe together then you loose the ability to move pipes around to deal with different planting configurations.

PVC Drip Irrigation connector

You can go as simple or complicated as you want getting the water into the pipes.  I simply have this little connector that attaches to my hose and fits over the end of the pipe.  I then move it from bed to bed with the hose.  I find that with my longer 25 foot beds I can only water one bed at a time and still have the right amount of pressure.

You can also be more complicated and add a main line that connects up to each bed and has a valve that you can turn on at each bed.  The main line would be under more pressure so you may want to glue those pipes.  Or you could even be really fancy and add a filter system and an electronic valve box and timers.  The sky is the limit!!

I like having my system attached to a hose bib.  That way I can control the amount of water pressure using the bib.  You want just enough water running through the pipes for it to get to the end and drip or ooze out of the pipe.  If you have the water pressure up too high the water will spray out of the pipes with too much force.  That will drill holes in the ground and possibly damage plants.  Also too much pressure tends to mean the water will be coming out too fast and it will run off the beds instead of soaking into the soil.

PVC pipe is cheap, over the years I have maybe spent $75 to $100 to get my system to where it is now and it waters 100% of my garden.  Since going away from sprinklers and flood irrigation the amount of time we spend weeding the garden has also gone way down, especially in the summer when there is no rain in the garden to sprout the weed seeds.

Do you use a drip system in your garden?  I’d love to hear about it and I’d even be happy to share links to your site or photos!!

 

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