Edibles · Garden · Irrigation

Irrigation 101

The first step in starting a garden (or really planting anything) when living in the desert is to figure out a water source.  How are you going to water the plants?  With edible gardens this is especially important because they need water everyday especially in the summer.  Do you have visions of standing outside taking in the beautiful sunrise as you hand water your plot?  In reality that almost never happens long term because life usually gets busy at some point.  And what about taking off for a vacation every now and then?  Sometimes neighbors and friends aren’t around to help and veggie plants won’t last without regular watering especially in a desert.

Water source…this is your FIRST job when installing new plants.  I’ve heard this countless times at probably every gardening class I’ve taken.  I’ve said this many times to many gardeners.  But I have not once done it.  Not once.  Every time I have planted a new garden it’s the last task I’ve actually followed through on.  I may have thought about the water in the planning stages but I have never actually figured it out until it becomes a problem.  And it ALWAYS becomes a problem at some point.  Then you’ll find me rushing around trying to throw some automated watering system together at the last minute.  I kick myself because I know better.  I vow never to put off the water again.  But I eventually make the same mistake…again.  Like a few weeks ago…

We built (and by we I really mean the hubby) two 4’x4′ raised beds about a month ago in mid-August.  Our new house has an in ground irrigation system but something is wrong with the line that feeds the back yard.  I was hoping to figure it out and tap into that line for the irrigation for the new beds and the many pots that we moved from our old house.  The problem is somewhere past the valve and at this point I just need to start digging.  I’m really not looking forward to doing that… which is why I haven’t done it yet.  I’ve been watering the pots by hand twice a day and I’ve been very good at following through it with that.

Well, I couldn’t just let two new garden beds sit there!  We had to get planting!  One bed is for our girls and my goal is to have them do as much of the work as possible.  I decided to get a jump on the cool season veggies and have them plant some seeds.  We were very good at hand watering.  Lettuce and carrots started sprouting!  Then we went out of town for three days.

I knew about our trip well ahead of time.  I knew even before hubby built the beds.  I knew I would have to figure something out with the irrigation.  I finally gave up on the in ground irrigation and hooked up a hose and timer to a spigot and installed drip irrigation for the beds and the pots.  It was so last minute that I had to guess about the minutes for it to run and how often because there was no time to test it and adjust.  I finished the install the night before we left while working under the light of a flashlight.  I must have guessed right because everything was still alive and well when we got back.  Whew!

Even though this story ends well, I have several others that didn’t work out at all.  Who wants the stress of irrigation issues while trying to pack and head out the door for a trip?  Apparently, I do.  🙂

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