March 20, 2012

Fixed waterline under low-tunnel lettuce bed
Photo by Jim Ruen
I’ll leave the fixed waterline under my low-tunnel lettuce beds uncovered for a few days until I’m sure there are no more problems.

If you decide to bury some waterlines as I did a few years ago, don’t forget to map them … and then refer to your map before working around them. I buried waterlines as they lead away from our house and down a slope. Normally, they work great; however, late last fall, water pressure fell off on one of them. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to discover what had happened. Water bubbling up through the soil told us where and what the problem was. While reinstalling hoops for our low-tunnel lettuce beds, I drove a stake through the waterline.

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It was too late to worry about it last fall. This spring is different. I need that particular waterline for our berry canes and bushes, as well as for the flowerbeds.

So I began digging. This meant carving away part of one lettuce bed to get room to access the pipe. To make it even more interesting, I had laid the waterline alongside drain tile that carried water away from a downspout and from a drain near the outside water outlets.

Soon I had about a 2- by 2½-foot space cleared out, giving me room to work. I was able to slice the pipe at the leak and insert a connector in one cut end, tapping it into place. To get it into the other end required a few seconds of heat from a blowtorch. There wasn’t much flexibility to the short length of exposed pipe, but I managed to bend it around and over the connector’s exposed end. 

After a few minutes’ work with clamps, the pipe was again whole. So far it is working fine under pressure. However, I am leaving the hole open for a few days. If there is going to be a problem, I’d rather know now.

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