Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One More and Die

Water bubbling up through the ground in your yard is never a good sign. I had seen it before and knew that the drip irrigation tubing had failed. They say that plastic is not good for the environment and even when buried in the dump will not deteriorate for thousands of years. Well, I've got proof they're wrong. Over the past seventeen years this tubing has deteriorated in many spots. Each time I dig and splice in a new section. This time I decided to dig back to my last splice and replace a long section. With temperatures well over 100 I began digging. Although the low overhanging trees provided some relief from the heat, I managed to offset their benefit by cutting open my head on a low hanging branch. I was sure there was a splice only a feet back but after ten feet of turning dirt over, no splice. I may have missed it since whoever installed the system carefully laid three PVC pipes over the drip tube making some sections impossible to see. PVC pipe almost never fails. At 20 feet I found a splice and knew that tubing behind it was good. As I completed the last splice, dehydrated, clotting blood in my hair, and a lower back that said "it's ok, you'll be able to stand up straight tomorrow", a phrase my father used often ran through my head. "I wish the guy that invented this would make just one more and die!".

Whenever my father was getting frustrated making a device or tool do what it should, he would mumble "I wish the guy that invented this would make just one more and die!". It didn't make much sense to me then. Why make one more? Why not just wish him dead now? Did the guy that invented it actually make them too? Maybe the guy that makes them thinks they're crap too but is just making them to support his family. I wonder if my father picked this phrase up from his father or if he just made it up. I never asked him because whenever he said it, he was in no mood to answer questions like these.

I've always had doubts about drip irrigation. The concept is that there is slow deep watering minimizing evaporation and saving water. After 17 years of using and maintaining a drip system, I have no more doubts. It's crap. The drip heads typically are rated from 1/4 to 2 gallons per hour which is very low water usage. But here's the thing. Most automatic sprinkler controllers have a maximum time of one hour. This means you'll put a quarter gallon on a tree each time you irrigate. A passing dog leaves a bigger puddle than that. In an Arizona summer, that water will never reach the closest root tip. The sun eats up the heads and above ground tubes until they break and all the water savings ends up sprayed on your windows. Yard patrolling with a bag of heads and a roll of tubing is a weekly chore.

Although it gives me great satisfaction visualizing the inventor of drip irrigation in hell patching up the drip system in the devil's garden for eternity, I hope he doesn't die. I'm going to need spare parts for years to come.

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