Last year was my first year growing in the high tunnel.  One of my first realizations was that it doesn’t rain in there!!!  So watering is very critical.  We were also having trouble with our well having lots of iron and not flowing enough.  So we set up a 1500 gallon cistern tank and pump.  A weekly water delivery is pretty common in Homer, they drive up in a big tank truck and connect to a fitting on the outside of the house and refill the tank.  BUT delivered water isn’t free and the well is!  There’s so much iron, I need to clean the iron out of the screen filter daily.  But the plants don’t seem to mind.

After trying sprinklers and hoses of various configurations and failures, it was obvious a drip tape system worked the best.  A drip tape is a flat hose with small “emitters” spaced along the length.  You just cut off the length you need, plug one end and connect the other to the water source.  The water comes out of the emitters at a regulated rate.  The tape I’m using has 1 gallon per hour emitters spaced at 8 inches.  The tape is available in various configurations of emitter spacing and flow rate.  The water goes right into the soil and can be customized for what that crop needs.  To me, drip tape is a great opportunity to set up an automated system.  So, the engineer in me set up a irrigation system that can be automated and controlled from anywhere.

I’m using a OpenSprinkler irrigation controller connected to Orbit brand valves and plumbing.   The OpenSprinkler is an open source sprinkler controller.  The hardware and software are open source, so they can be modified if needed.  The controller works very well and has been reliable.  It has a web interface that I can connect to from my phone.  It’s fully programmable with a schedule.

I’m using the OpenSprinklerPi, which is the Raspberry Pi version.   The OpenSprinklerPI is a RaspberryPi connected to the controller electronics.  That opens up a lot of options using the Pi to do some extra stuff.  For example just for fun I set up a temperature logging script that has been recording the temperature for over a year now.  I’d like to add a temperature record to my crop postings.  There’s lots of other interesting things possible with the Pi.   I like to tinker and already have some small changes I’m working on.  I would like it to monitor the temperature and turn fans and vents on and off.  It could also connect to moisture sensors and adjust the watering if needed.

The Orbit valves have been nice to work with.  They assemble to the manifold with a slip fitting that allows them to be tightened and still facing outward.  They are also readily available on Amazon and at stores if I go to Anchorage or maybe Soldotna.  I haven’t found any irrigation supplies in Homer other than drip tape and connectors.

Anyway, here are some pictures of sprinklers and controllers and plumbing.

Bali Cherry Tree

7/7:. Harvest day

6/22:  The cherries are starting to plump up and turn a little red. 

This is our Evans Bali Cherry Tree.  It and two others were in the high tunnel when we bought the place.  The other two were taking up a lot of space so I gave them to a friend.  This tree had one cherry last year, it was VERY sour.  The tree is loaded with cherries this year.  The tree needs pruned but that can wait until the fall.


6/20:  getting a few berries each day.  The berries are small and not plump.  They’re wrinkled and deformed looking.  I’m going to water good for a few days and see if that helps.  I think they are to dry out not getting enough sun.

6/17:  Picked a few berries today from the Sitka berries.

6/7/17:. The new transplant Honeoye are making a few berries, they have been awesome.  The White Carolina Pineberry don’t have any berries yet but are growing well.  The Sitka berries are making lots of flowers but just one berry so far.