Easy Low-Tech Garden Watering Solutions

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Watering your garden in the desert can be frustrating when you are trying to grow food. It can be costly to put in irrigation systems for varying plants, and the water itself isn’t cheap. If you are living off grid you may also need to find solutions that don’t require electricity at all. I’ve got some ideas to help you whether you have a great system in place, or are saving up to get one. You can still get those plants in the ground to start growing now.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

GARDENING

DESERT

SUSTAINABILITY

WATER

Get these basics down first.

The best place to start managing water is with the soil, which is actually also the best place to store water. Organic soil full of humic acid, mycellium, and root systems will hold moisture to support that living system. You can help your soil do that by covering our mineral-rich native soil with several inches of organic material like wood chips, compost, or leaves. This does a few things:

  1. It prevents moisture from evaporating
  2. It cools the root zone
  3. It creates a microclimate for soil life
Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Grow your microclimate

We all know that the sun is intense in Arizona. We don’t walk around barefoot and we don’t take our pets out for walks without proper footwear. Exposed soil can be very hot and dry. You may water it, but the evaporation rate removes it quickly.

Covering your soil with mulch, as stated above helps hold that moisture in. If you aren’t able to access mulch, or you it doesn’t work for your situation, you can provide shade with structures or by growing it. Here are some great options for shade-producing plants:

  1. Trees (deciduous tress allow light in the winter with shade in the summer)
  2. Annual Vines like luffa, Armenian cucumber, squash, pumpkins, gourds, beans and sweet potatoes
  3. Tall plants like castor been, sunflowers, bamboo, sugar cane and corn.
Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Making Water Accessible

Sometimes water is accessible, but not as close as you’d like. I have a very long hose in my garden, but it can be a pain to drag through all the rows for watering things like trees and seedlings. I’d much rather use a watering can that I can quickly fill and walk to specific plants. However, I don’t want to run back and forth to the spigot at the far corner of the garden every time. So I decided to place 5 gallon buckets at the end of my rows and keep them filled to use easily. I like my garden to look pretty, so I dropped the buckets into large nursery containers and painted “WATER” on them just for cuteness.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Adding “Fertilizer”

One thing I do love about having these buckets of water always available is that I can keep a couple buckets that are just for fertilizer. I add a few scoops of chicken manure to one and compost to another. I stir it every day as I go about my gardening and add a few cups to my watering can water. My plants seem to thrive with this added nutrition, and it also boosts the microbes in the soil.

Water fruit trees without irrigation

I have several fruit trees that I planted this year, but I don’t have the ability to run a hose for slow, deep watering all day long.

My solution?

I drilled a 1/8 inch hole in the bottom of several 5 gallon buckets and place them next to my trees. Then I fill each bucket and allow it to slowly drain. I know my tree just got 5 gallons of water right where it needed it. I can also add compost or maure tea to the water when needed. As the trees grow they will spread their roots in soil that also has grown to be healthier, shaded, and moisture retentive.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

The Problem is the Solution

My garden used to be a horse arena filled with dirt only. In my mind, I am building in two directions: up and down. I’m growing microclimates to grow the soil so the soil can grow my plants. It is a cycle that only increases. Each year that passes I will find more problems and more solutions. That is one of the principles Permaculture: The Problem is the Solution.  By fully understanding the problem, in a systems context, the solution will be provided.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

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