I posted a while back looking for advice on building an automatically-irrigated raised bed system for my Sarracenias. After some great ideas from John B. on the ICPS forum (stock trough float valves!) and finding a YouTube video of a guy using a 12v demand pump, a car battery and a small solar panel, to water his grass and wash his car with rain water, I have what might just be (for me at least) the perfect system.
It's still being finalized and installed by a truly impressive landscape guy I found on Craigslist (thank you, Damion!), but today, for the first day ever, I watered my CP in the greenhouse using a hose (attached to a pump that moves rain water from my 550-gal rain barrel array about 40 feet and slightly uphill). It even had enough water pressure to wash my hands and scour the algae off the bottom of my plant trays.
I can't wait until the rest of the works is in place (hopefully next weekend). Will post photos and a more detailed description when it's done. Basically, it's going to automatically feed the beds when the water level drops below a preset point, any overflow will go into built-in reservoirs under the beds, and I can pump water from the reservoirs (which doubles my current rain water supply to just over 1,000 gal) back into the rain barrels if/when they need to be refilled. Another line runs from the outside beds into the greenhouse and attaches to a hosebib (see above).
Now I know what it feels like to live downstream from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in N. Cal (or in other lucky locales that have low TDS water from the tap).
"Perfect System" also isn't a bad Oingo Boingo song (as if there was such thing as a bad Oingo Boingo song ...).