I grew up in AZ but have been living and homesteading in the eastern US (blue ridge, virginia) for the last 6 years. For family reasons, I’ll be moving back to AZ this summer.
I’m considering moving to a property in Phoenix with roughly half an acre of flat, unused flood-irrigated land in the middle of suburbia. River-supplied flood irrigation in the desert is tempting, because it’s extremely inexpensive and opens up the possibility of growing a broader and more useful variety of tropical plants in a region that doesn’t naturally support that.
I know irrigation doesn’t exactly align with the values of permaculture, but I have some ideas about how I might be able to find a happy medium. As I am of course committed to diversifying my water inputs, making the most of a valuable resource without depending on it seems like a win-win.
I’m wondering if anyone has thoughts or experiences around using irrigation in desert climates, and/or any resources you could point me toward. I may have spent much of my life in AZ, but never as a gardener or homesteader, so even obvious-seeming pointers about the climate are appreciated.
Irrigation is fine but i would try to design my planting to where less is needed year to year. Geoff Lawton is who you should study. Many plantings are for shade to support the edible plants. I can't even start to tell you his methods. He is a genius in greening deserts. It's worth reading and youtubing his work.
In my region almost nothing would grow without irrigation, and the unirrigated areas of desert are extremely barren. So I'm all for flood irrigation, the traditional irrigation here. But my own personal garden has been small and not positioned on a stream or canal, so for years I hauled water for it. Now I've got a little more space and a hose, as well as a canal I can access. I have absolutely become devoted to mulch, but it works fine when you're pouring water onto the mulch from a container or hose. But it is a but tricky with flood irrigation, which can float the mulch off into a corner. I"m not sure how I'll deal with that.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Bryce, I have been plowing through the second edition of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 2 by Brad Lancaster. Its full of wonderful ways to help retain soil moisture through the use of earthworks in various forms. No matter what the source of your water, in the desert your always up against either a flood or famine so any way you can help retain that water is the key. I highly recommend it.