Home Automation via WiFi – Tomato Irrigation via Internet
Water tomatoes via Internet
Home grown tomatoes. Delicious! Satisfying! And a fun hobby.
The best homegrown tomatoes begin with careful attention to all the requirements of a healthy tomato plant -- including proper watering.
A simple drip irrigation system for your tomatoes will make your watering job a lot easier.
With a home automation watering controller you can control your watering system via personal computer or WiFi-enabled phone.
How to grow tomatoes
There's nothing like picking vine-ripened tomatoes grown at home. Eat them on the spot or slice them and serve with cool cucumbers – they taste great. Delicious recipes from around the world have made tomatoes a tasty and popular ingredient in many dishes.
As you plan your home-grown tomato project, keep in mind that the growth of healthy, juicy tomatoes requires:
- Plenty of sunshine
- Warm weather
- Tomato-friendly root zone
- Adequate drainage
- Tomato-friendly nutrients
- Careful watering or irrigation
Where to grow tomatoes
You can choose among numerous varieties of tomatoes, depending on your taste. And you can grow them many ways:
- Grow them in your vegetable garden.
- Plant them in raised beds.
- Plant them in the decorative pots around your patio, deck or rooftop.
- Hang them upside down in special containers.
- Make special tomato planters out of plastic storage boxes and steel tomato cages.
Let's say you carefully planned your tomato-planting project according to your lifestyle desires. You decided to grow tomatoes in containers on your patio, Your project is now complete. You've planted healthy tomato plants, and given them just what they need for healthy growth. From now until you pick your juicy tomatoes, careful watering or irrigation is essential.
How to water tomato plants
Tomatoes require just the right amount of water for healthy growth. There are several basic approaches.
- Let nature do the watering for you. Caution: During long dry spells, your tomato plants compensate for the lack of water and slow their growth. The result: shriveled vines and puny tomatoes.
- Use a watering can or hose and water your tomato plants a couple times a week. Try to avoid wetting the foliage; apply the water to the root zone. Caution: Repeated wet foliage can lead to fungus and disease. Sometimes you forget to water your plants or don't have time. Or you overwater them. Or you go off on vacation during a dry spell.
- Plant your tomatoes in a container that has a water reservoir and wick system. This keeps the soil or planting medium moist and allows the roots to extract just the right amount of moisture. This is an excellent approach. Caution: Don't forget to replenish the water in the container's water reservoir.
- Use an automatic drip watering irrigation system. There are easy-to-install household drip irrigation systems on the market today that can apply just the right amount of water directly to root zones of your tomatoes. Caution: Make sure the system is working properly and applying just the right amount of water.
Drip irrigation watering for your tomatoes
Let's say you decided to grow tomatoes in containers on your patio, and you'll use drip irrigation. Rain Bird offers a wide variety of components, kits and parts that make a simple drip irrigation system easy to install.
You'll need a faucet connectiion, enough connecting tubing to run from your faucet connection to your patio and alongside the plant containers, and short lengths of quarter-inch tubing attached to drip emitters that deliver a precise amount of water to each one of your tomato plants.
Here's how it works.
Faucet connection kit
Rain Bird's Faucet Connection Kit includes a backflow protector to prevent water in the irrigation tubing from being sucked back into your house plumbing.
There's a water pressure regulator to reduce your house water pressure to the 25-30 psi required for drip irrigation.
Finally there is a filter to help keep the water free of debris.
At the end of the connection there is a fitting for the half-inch connecting tubing.
This half-inch tubing runs from your faucet connection to your patio and along your plant containers. It comes in 50-foot and 100-foot lengths.
Lay it out along the desired line from your faucet to patio and along your tomato plant containers.
Put an End Closure at the end of the tubing. The End Closure can be removed for cleaning and draining the tubing.
After you have placed the tubing in position, hold it down with these wire secures.
Patio drip watering kit. The Rain Bird Drip Watering Kit Includes quarter-inch tubing, 10 spot watering (drip) emitters, stakes
and hardware for attaching quarter-inch tubing to the connecting tubing. Here's what you get:
Pressure Regulator with 1/4" Tubing Adaptor (1)
1/4" Tubing (25 feet)
1/4" Stakes with Bug Caps (10 feet)
1/4" Barbed couplings (2)
1/4" barbed tees (8)
Tubing mounting clips (10)
Spot watering emitters 2GPH (5)
Spot watering emitters 1GP (5)
Depending on which Spot Emitters you choose, water is dripped at flow rates of 2 gpm (gallons per minute), or 1 gpm.
Drip irrigation timing control
Here are several ways you can control your drip irrigation system:
Manual. Simply turn your faucet on and leave it on for a measured amount of time, then turn it off. This works, but it is definitely not for those with limited time and patience.
Timer. This Orbit Digital Watering Timer and Valve connects to your faucet. You can program it to turn the water on and off every day, every 2nd day, 3rd day – and more – up to 4 times a day. Many other programming options are available.
Home automation -- Internet controller. If you are inclined to home automation, there are ways to control your drip irrigation schedule via Internet. For example, if you have installed an INSTEON Plug In Starter Kit to control home lights via Internet, you can incorporate an EZFlora INSTEON/X10 Sprinkler Controller into your home automation system
The EZFlora Irrigation Controller controls up to 8 zones. (Only one zone is needed for the tomato drip irrigation system described in this article.) It controls 24-volt valves, such as those supplied by Rain Bird.
You can turn your drip irrigation system on or off using your PC or WiFi-enabled phone – from anywhere.
Locate the EZFlora Controller inside your house, in the garage or other protected area. Run a pair of wires rated for underground burial from the EZFlora to the 24-volt ac valve located near your patio in a valve box for protection. Use water-proof electrical connectors. For a permanent installation run underground plastic piping from the 24-volt valve box near your patio to a shutoff valve at your house. Be sure to install a backflow protector and adhere to your local plumbing and electrical codes.
An irrigation installer can help you plan your system and install it for you.
Whether you choose a simple drip irrigation system or an Internet-controlled system, have fun putting it together and watching your plants produce delicious ripe red tomatoes.
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