I suppose a drip system would be the most effective way to adequately water without wasting and would save time. Doug and the neighbor laid out their respective plans over the winter for an elaborate drip system for our gardens. However, come spring we have enough budgeted for a new hose and maybe a sprayer. A drip system didn’t fit into our meager farmstead funds!
The system we came up with wouldn’t work in clay soil or in humid environments but here in the high plains of arid Colorado, it works really well. It also saves us a lot of money on the water bill. Last year I wrote a post about trench planting during the fires (see post here) and wondered if that would work. This year when Doug rototilled the front yard rows, I left all the dirt on the sides creating a long trench. I planted the seeds directly in the trench which is about six inches deep in some spots. We can water quickly by filling the trenches with a few inches of water which happens in ten seconds per area. It seeps in quickly and keeps two inches of soil wet for the next twenty hours or so. The plants are protected from the wind and the moisture doesn’t get whisked away so quickly.
In the garlic, onion, and potato rows I used the hoe to create small trenches along the sides of the rows. I can quickly fill them with an inch of water and they will seep in right to the roots.
Once the plants are established a thick layer of old straw cushions the plants. (See last year’s post on mulching here) I leave a little space around the stems so they won’t rot, but the entire area gets a nice blanket of weed squashing straw. This is a far easier way to keep up with the straggly and strangling crab grass and other fun weeds here. It really does slow down the weed growth and keeps the moisture in so that on some days we do not even have to water.
My biggest failures for the first twenty years of gardening came from these factors. Not enough water. Not enough weed control. And not enough diligence planting seeds. If seeds didn’t come up, I felt that that particular bed was a failure. I never heard of the saying, “Plant Three; one for God, one for the birds, one for me.” Boy, is this true! Every third seed seems to come up. The birds help, no doubt, and apparently there is a tithe involved with planting. So, if some seeds don’t come up, I am now out there planting another seed where I want it. All along the pumpkin patch there were spaces of missing plants. I just reseeded them. Same with the corn. Same with the brassicas. Through the middle of June one can keep planting seeds that will be ready for harvest and mid-July for the fall crops.
Three ways to assure good basic crops. Now we just hope for great weather and that Mother Nature looks kindly on our gardens!