Main water supply lines can be configured on a ceiling, and ultimately drop down to plant containers, trays, benches, or beds to supply them with water.
These configurations are recommended when cultivators need to move individual beds, tables, benches, etc., or just to avoid the tripping hazard of water supply tubing along a floor.
While polyvinyl drip tubing can be used, generally stiffer PVC tubing is recommended to configure ceiling manifolds so it does not sag. PVC tubing diameters of anywhere from 1/2″-1″ are generally adequate for Blumat Systems.
Water should be ran at full pressure up to ceiling level, branched out to individual rows of beds/tables/trays, and enter pressure reducers prior to entering each branch.
This ensures the water will flow up to ceiling level with no problems, and will also not have excessive and problematic pressure levels for the system.
As water travels down the main branch for each row of tables/beds/trays/benches, tees can be installed. If the main supply tubing is 1/2″, it is recommended to continue to drop down in 1/2″ from the tee until roughly chest/waist level. Then, an adapter and valve can be used to transition to 8mm tubing to supply a Blumat System.
For Raised Beds
Most of the container kits for garden & raised beds from Sustainable Village are best supplied using 8mm tubing.
Let’s take the example of a facility with four rows of raised beds, each row with 10 beds.
A pump or otherwise pressurized line will run to the ceiling, where it will then enter a series of tees to create a branch of supply tubing for each row of beds. Stiff tubing such as PVC should be used for this purpose. In our example, we’ll use 3/4″ PVC.
Each branch will begin with a pressure reducer. This ensures that the tubing prior to the Blumat system has adequate pressure to get to the ceiling, but the pressure is not excessively high when entering the Blumat tubing and BluSoak drip tape.
Above each raised bed, a 3/4″ PVC tee fitting should be installed. 3/4″ PVC tubing is used to drop down to head, chest, or waist level–whatever is preferred by the cultivator.
Adapters are used to get into 8mm tubing–quick connects are recommended here, as they afford the ability to move the beds from side to side, or be wheeled in/out of separate rooms. Extra slack in the 8mm tubing to be able to move the beds should be taken into account as well.
8mm Tubing is simply ran across the raised bed themselves to supply each Blumat with water.
For Smaller Containers on Tables
The design for tables would be identical to that of the raised beds above, until the water supply line enters 8mm tubing. At this point, plants/containers on tables would be configured like a standard system.
Each row of containers should get its own row of 8mm tubing. The 8mm tubing is generally looped at the end of the table, with a shut-off valve installed at the point furthest from the input of water supply in the loop.
For more economical designs, 8mm tubing can supply two rows of plants/containers.
For Multi-Tiered Systems
Designing multi-tiered or racked systems is identical to configuring the above-two designs until entering 8mm tubing.
The 8mm tubing will drop down, entering 8mm tees to each individual tier or level of the rack. This will allow individual branches of 8mm tubing for containers, capillary mats, or beds on each rack. Quick-connects are generally recommended to begin each branch of 8mm tubing.
The tubing branches should be concluded with shut-off valves to be used as flush/purge valves.
Key Principles & Takeaways
- Water supply lines should be ran at full pressure up to the ceiling, with pressure reducers integrated at that level, or after dropping back down in elevation
- Ceiling manifolds of supply should be used to avoid tubing on the floor, and ease the process of moving tables, benches, beds, trays, or any other rolling/moving platform
- Ceiling manifolds are the golden standard of commercial facilities, as they maximize performance and convenience
- Ceiling manifolds should generally be larger diameter tubing (1/2″-1″ PVC), and drop down using adapters into 8mm to supply Blumat systems