"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Epicenter

It has been about as perfect a gardening year, weather wise, as I can remember. The temperatures have been extremely hot but we have had a decent rain every 2-3 weeks since spring...today included. We have used less water this summer than ever before, even with the close to 90-100° temperatures and an ever expanding garden.

The above picture depicts our gardens "epicenter". Isn't she a beauty? Yeah...not really. Filled with timers, modes, and valves attached to eleven hoses that stretch hundreds of feet and are attached to various soaker systems and sprinklers...the garden can literally water itself.

I set up this system a few years ago so that we could take a vacation and not worry about watering the garden in August, our driest month, it worked great. Depending upon the weather and particular location in the garden, I set the timers to water for a certain amount of time, when needed, at night. They turn on and off automatically or manually, and I am able to carefully control the amount of water I use. The timers were set up for the first time this year, a couple weeks ago, when I could no longer justify the time it took to manually water the gardens.

We use the soaker hoses on our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, and the outskirts of the main garden. Everything else is still watered using overhead sprinklers that I hope to replace with soaker hoses over time. Some of our plants, like my "no water" tomatoes never get a drop of water. I have other crops that are deeply planted and mulched that I hand water once a week or so.

These little cherry tomato plants in the chicken run never get any water from me, and are just starting to produce a few nice little fruits.

Anyway, I like the automatic watering system and have cut my water output by at least half, perhaps even more this year, since setting it up. Hopefully as time goes on and I become more advanced in "no water" gardening I will no longer need to use it at all, but for now it is my best solution to water conservation in the garden.


LynnS said...

I have a used a watering timer in my greenhouse, but most everything in there is regulated with individual stats. Automation makes it easier when you are not there.

Until we converted our garden-watering from well-water to storing rainwater, I wouldn't consider soaker hoses because our groundwater is so 'hard' and it would have clogged up the porous material. Hand watering the base with a hose is such a wasteful way to water, but it's all we could do at the time.

This year, we have only watered our garden once. Had it been a dry year, we would have begun rigging up some type of an irrigation system using drip or soaker lines. With all of our rainwater available, we'll be able to use irrigation lines now since that water is so soft. Just not sure if we want this set up above-ground for the season or below ground for permanent lines. Another project....

Mr. H. said...


Only watering the garden once is pretty darn good. Out here we have nice soil but it is sandy and the water moves through it rather quickly. So between that and the wind I have a hard time not having to water anything that is not heavily mulched or deeply planted.

Our future goals are to grow the plants more spread out and use our barn roof as part of a rainwater catchment system. So many projects.:)

Steve and Paula said...

Plans Please??
I would also love to use Olla's, but they are so spendy!!!
www.pathtofreedom.com sells them.
I might need to learn pottery and make my own.

Mrs. Mac said...

This is a good plan. I still need to get my soil built up so it will hold water better.

Mr. H. said...


It's a simple Orbit watering system. Each battery operated timer can be attached to four valves that act as timed on off switches for 4 different sprinklers. We have 2 of these set up to automatically water 8 different areas. So the plans depend upon each individual garden.

I originally purchased a different type of timer and had to return it as it did not work very well. I have had the Orbit timers for over 3 years and they still work great. They are sold through Amazon at a big discount compared to our local hardware store. I believe that is where I purchased my second one.

I have never used an olla pot and don't know much about them. I will have to look into it. I would also like to learn pottery, imagine how nice it would be to make your own bowls and crocks.

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

We have built our soil up pretty good but it is still sandy and the water drains right through it. I'll take that over clay soil any day though.

Rick said...

So do you lose a lot of toms to your chickens then? I have been growing some peas near my chicken run as a treat for the hens from time to time. I like the idea of planting near the chickens as extra fertilizer. Maybe pumpkins next year.

Mr. H. said...


For whatever reason the chickens don't like tomatoes, I noticed that last year. So we are able to grow about 10 of our plants in various locations around the chicken coup.

They are pretty spoiled chickens and get so much other garden produce that tomatoes just don't seem to interest them I suppose.

Roasted Garlicious said...

Mr H and Rick... perhaps the reason that chickens don't like tomatoes is that the plant (minus the fruit) is highly toxic... being a member of the Deadly Nightshade family as are Peppers and Potatoes could well be the reason... when we had chickens, they weren't even fond of potato peelings either..

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

Your probably right, it may be toxic to the chickens. Although, every year the deer eat every tomato leaf they can reach through the fence...they even eat the potato leaves. Crazy deer.

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