Irrigation Update

A few more years of working with irrigation have lead me to this conclusion:

Compresson tees w/hose fitting plus tape adapter

Compression tees w/hose fitting plus tape adapter

Don’t use these compression tees to assemble your system. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but they take a lot more labor to install than the barbed fittings.    The header tubing has to be cut to lengths, and each tee has to be forced onto a length on each side, which takes time and hand strength.  Then you have to have a second fitting to join the drip tape to the tees.

An easier way?

An easier way

Much better, in my opinion, are the barbed fittings.  You just punch a hole in the header tubing and push the barb into it.  The drip tape attaches right to the other end of the fitting and it’s done.  No cutting and very little forcing.  Very fast.  Cheaper, too.

If you need to change the layout the following year, just buy a new roll of header tubing (100′ = about $15) and punch new holes.  It’s a lot better than having to pull all the tees off, cut new lengths, and push the tees back on.  If there are only a few  changes, you can put goof plugs in the old holes and punch new ones.

So, anyone want to buy a bunch of tees?

Greenhouse Re-do

Five years ago I built a little greenhouse outside my basement door and thousands of mostly happy little plants have been grown in it since then.   The chronicle of the project is here.   I had to make it narrow to fit the available space and that has always been a problem, principally because the widest door I could fit into it was 22 inches wide — not good for getting any bulky items in and out of the basement.  Also, I had added a sort of bump-out on the side of it to get more room, which it did, but that bumped up the ugly factor a little more than I could stand. I’m no longer growing flowers for the local farmers’ market, so I don’t need as much room as I did.

The old structure was 5′ x 10′, and by digging some dirt out on one side, I was able to stretch it out to 6.5′ x 10′, and raise the height to almost 9′ at the peak.

new 1053

I was able to re-use the base sides and braces and make longer end pieces.

new 1054

Only five frames this time instead of six.  That gives 30″ OC spacing, compared to 24″ before.  It turns out that snow load is not a big problem because it’s easy to knock the snow off from the inside.  There’s no big buildup.  The sides are also taller.  I was able to salvage the plywood gussets and the two by fours for the roof from the old greenhouse.

new 1056

Frames are up with longitudinal and diagonal braces — screwed to the base and to the house.

new 1057

Showing my $20 storm door from the Habitat For Humanity ReStore.  It’s 36″ wide (yippee) and is a way better door than the one I made for the original house.

new 1060

The old greenhouse shelving used something called metal lath, which I thought would be great because water and dirt would just fall right through.  That was actually a good idea, but the stuff had sharp edges and I poked holes in the bottoms of too many plastic plant trays.  Holes in trays were OK for greenhouse use, but not for in the basement where the seed starting happened.  This time I decided to rip salvaged two by fours into slats and staple those down.  I think I’ll like it better.

new 1061

The right-hand shelf has a little warp, the result of using lumber salvaged from the first greenhouse, but what will that hurt?  Nuttin’, Honey.  I hadn’t noticed it until I looked at this photo.

new 1065

And here it stands.  Along with ten two-by-fours, I did have to buy some new plastic, due to the bigger size and the fact that the old plastic was five years old, one year past its stated lifetime.

A couple of details:

I used aluminum channel and wiggle wire to fasten the plastic to the wall corners and gable ends.

new 1066

To seal the greenhouse to the siding of the house, I put duct tape on the siding and used foam to fill the gaps.  The duct tape was to keep the foam from sticking to the siding.  Someday, I will be moving the greenhouse and I don’t want to have to do a lot of scraping then.

new 1075

Just for fun, I made some comparison pics, the original greenhouse on the left and the new version on the right.


As I write this in northern Michigan, we are having a rare sunny November day and the greenhouse thermometer is reading 100 °F.  I wish I could say that will last.

Blue and Gold

I have a real fondness for blue and yellow. It probably goes back to my days as a Cub Scout.  I had the shirt, the cap, and the yellow neckerchief with a brass slider.  At the end of the year we had the Blue and Gold Banquet where we got the badges that we had earned. It was a tremendously big deal. I try to remember how it was then when I’m dealing with my grand kids now.


The day lily is one that I believe was bred locally.

New Flower Bed 5

I’m pretty happy with how the new bed is looking now.  Most everything is blooming.


You can’t say it’s not colorful.



Annie had to get into the picture.




Lilies, yarrow, and liatris.


Not a pretty photo maybe, but you can see the basic layout.  The mixture of grass and weeds that makes up our “lawn” over here has been suffering from a lack of rain.


From an upstairs window.

All in all, I think it’s OK for the first year, but I’ve left myself some room for improvement.