Getting Water to the Compost Pile

Organic Moments is a presentation of Alabama Master Gardeners and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Compost is a wonderful thing, but in order to make it work right, you have to keep it damp. We have a compost pile back here that is getting too dry. And the reason I can tell it’s too dry is because we have ants in our compost pile. Note: an active compost pile is too hot for ants. So I know I can water it from the faucet that’s on the other side of the fence here. But I can’t get to that faucet easily when I’m down here because we have to keep the fence closed to keep the deer out. So today I’m trying to extend a water line underneath the fence, so that I have a faucet right out here where I can get to it. We need a fair number of tools and supplies to make this happen. I’ve put them all together here so we can see what goes into this project. First you need the pipe, of course. Note: about five dollars. This is what I just brought down. And you need a box that you’re gonna bury in the ground. Note: cost is about 17 dollars. Inside that box is a faucet and a little joint that’s gonna fit Note: together, about $8. on the PVC pipe. And this is the “T” (cost about 50 cents) that’s going to take the PVC pipe from the existing line and send it our way. Then we need several tools for digging. We use a pickaxe to get at the trench itself. We use a spadefork to loosen up the earth, a shovel to do the digging, of course, and when all else fails, I’ve got an axe to cut roots, as well as lopping shears to cut roots. Then when we get ready to do our gluing, we’ll cut the PVC pipe with this hacksaw, we’ll scrape off the pipe with a putty knife, wipe it down with a towel, and then we will glue it with the cleaner and the adhesive that is made for PVC. Then when we get ready to screw on the faucet we’re gonna use a little plumber’s tape. and for my delicate knees, I have a knee pad. Also have some gloves for the digging. I have done most of the digging now, so what we’re going to do is just a little more digging, and then we’ll be finished. Sassafrass. Want to make some tea? [Frustrated sigh] What we’ve figured out we need to do is thread through these huge roots that are coming from this hickory tree that’s right close by here. We decided we really didn’t want to sever them because that’s too important to the tree’s growth. so we’re trying to thread through them, and in the process of threading them I’ve gotta be coming down at such a harsh angle that I can’t curve the pipe to be flat in the box. So we’re gonna have to stop here, go to the hardware store, and get a 45-degree angle joint to go here. So that when it comes through this threaded tree root, we can do the 45, and then we’ll have a flat pipe that we can attach our faucet to. We’ve been to the hardware store now, and we have our 45 degree angle (another 50 cents) and it’s installed, so now we’re ready to cut that water line. This is always the moment of truth when you start doing this, because once you do this, you can’t go back and do it again. [Sawing] Fortunately, this is 3/4 inch PVC pipe, which cuts rather easily with a hacksaw. And we’re severed. You can get started with the cleanser, and there’s really no hurry You can take your time with the cleanser. Let it set for just a second; by the time you get your adhesive on, that’s plenty of time. Once you start with the adhesive, though, things need to happen pretty fast. So I’m gonna put the adhesive inside the “T,” outside the pipe, put the adhesive back in place, stick the “T” on, make sure it’s aiming in the right direction, and then hold it there for about 10 seconds. And now that joint is secure. [Sawing] Believe it or not, the most challenging part for me in all of this is getting the screw joint to work and hold water. What we’ve got is a faucet that’s going to screw into this PVC fitting. And in order to help it hold water well, I’m using this Teflon plumber’s tape. And what I’m going to do is wrap a couple of courses of it around this brass fitting, before I screw the brass fitting into the PVC. That’s the angle I want. My question is can I rotate it another 360 degrees. And I think I can. Good. So now I need cut a little piece of PVC to go from this joint to this fitting. We’ve turned the water back on now. The “T” is holding. Now let’s go look at our old faucet. [Water running] Make sure that it’s flowing fine. And now let’s look at our new faucet. Oddie has decided he likes being down in the water. You’re gonna like this even more, Oddie. [Water running] So now our faucet is working. Give us a minute to get Oddie out and put the box in and then we’ll be able to look at the finished project. So our project is finished now. We’ve filled in the soil around the boxes, and everything seems to be stabilized. We’ve hooked up a hose, and I am actually watering the compost pile with our hose as we speak. Soon, we’re gonna have compost! To find out more,check out To become a Master Gardener, check out Announcer: Adrian Lee Olson Music: Bama Sunshine by Elion Olson

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