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watering - getting water to the roots more efficiently musings ahead of the planting season

 
Susan Doyon
Posts: 146
Location: Massachusetts
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not sure if I have this in the correct forum

this past 2 years I dug holes by certain plants and buried an upside down gallon milk jug with the bottom cut off and a few rocks in it . This is to decrease surface evaporation to try and get the limited water I get to apply to the cooler soil 6-10" down
I hate having the plastic in the yard
I was wondering if any one had tried filling holes or narrow trenches with composted wood chips or other materials that would allow water to quickly go down toward the roots and be a compost type item that will eventually enrich the soil I have access to many cubic yards of 2 year old partially composted ramial wood chips from areal tree trimmings

In my mind I am thinking of just putting the shovel in straight down a bout 10 inches from where I will set the plants and just rocking the shovel back and forth to make a V in the soil to fill with chips
I could also use 1/2 finished compost and 1/2 wood chip waste with the idea the compost would help enrich the soil

Am I crazy ! July and august can be brutal on the plants but we have watering bans where we can only use a hand held hose certain hours and sprinklers are not allowed

I am not even sure what to call this I am sure some one has made this type of quick soak water trap before
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9445
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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This method has enabled me to use much less water: http://www.permies.com/t/52077/hugelkultur/Buried-Wood-Beds



 
jimmy gallop
Posts: 196
Location: east and dfw texas
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bee chicken forest garden hunting trees woodworking
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Sounds reasonable to me.
look at some of the diy drip systems water tank obscure under ground line last for years fill when they allow hand watering
If you don't want the plastic use glass but then there is clay, if you have any clay you can dig a hole and line it with clay lid of any rock or paver
dig hole line it with news paper or cardboard fill with chips cover with paving block
another thought worm towers just shorter,lower maybe entirely in ground
as far as droughts mulch is your best friend rocks make the perfect mulch they conserve moisture and collect dew regulate temperature and you can put things under them
just throwing some more ideas out there
 
Susan Doyon
Posts: 146
Location: Massachusetts
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the garden is about an acre that used to be hay field . because I use a planet JR dual wheel push cultivator with sweeps / scuffle hoe ,furrower and Husband occasionally insists on tilling with the 5 foot tiller on the tractor I am trying to move to methods that do not include rocks or any thing I need to dig up or move prior to him using the tractor .( I am trying to get him to use the tractor less but he was a dairy farmer and old habits die hard , this is his family farm so I am trying to slowly move him toward my low till mulch methods . I am thinking of the furrows filled with compost or chips as ways to direct any water natural and added down to roots rather than allowing run off and add organic matter oasis's ( have added 2 dug in Hugel beds to capture spring water one put in 1 1/2 year ago second started in fall one needs the top compost and top soil layers finished as they are still to the side ) I will finish the second hugel bed when it is warmer again and start a 3rd

I saw in a post some where this idea that stuck in my head of adding organic matter to help direct the water downward but I can not remember where or what it was called
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9445
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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You might be able to save water if you reduce the size of the garden but grow more intensively. http://www.growbiointensive.org/

But if your husband insists on gardening with a tractor, I'm not sure if intensive methods will work.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hay and straw make wonderful mulch, which helps soil retain moisture, especially if you put it on 3" thick. This material will end up in the soil and so continue improving the soil.
Wood chips as mulch are also great as is leaf mold for the same soil improving reasons.

If you hubby insists on using the tiller, try to spread a really deep mulch (6" or more) before he makes his passes.
This will get those materials spread within the soil and good things will then happen as they decompose.

Improving the soil will increase it's ability to hold moisture. Also doing green manure crops prior to his tilling are just as good for soil improvement.

To help him understand the no till methods, have him leave a small plot untouched as an experiment.
Photos of this plot taken at least four times a year will get him to see the changes in soil appearance and that might be what he needs to see.

If you could get the "leaky pipe" soaker hoses, they can put water in the soil with little to no evaporation. This depends on finances more than the other methods.
We, for instance, use water catchment, held in 270 gal. Totes. This water is used for all our gardens and orchard so it doesn't come under regulations.
 
jimmy gallop
Posts: 196
Location: east and dfw texas
3
bee chicken forest garden hunting trees woodworking
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I also have fair size garden
I disk in the fall and put in turnips and winter greens
and till in spring but in between I mulch a lot
after I get things going my way
then I don't till any more till fall
If I need to clean a row I put the chickens on it
I have a bad case of chufa grass or sedge/nut grass.
probably never get rid of it.
 
Susan Doyon
Posts: 146
Location: Massachusetts
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some good ideas to think about ,
the problem with going any more intensive is you need to walk and get the garden cart around I plant pretty tight , but I need rows and places to put my feet . Husband would say I plant way too intensive !
this year UI am actually considering wider walkways to make it easier to get the cart to the plants with compost , mulch and my tools . I have gotten him to stop tilling a few spots by letting radishes self seed he loves radishes and by adding garlic and perennial onions . So for Christmas I bought him a quarter lb hailstone radish and I will add that and let some go to seed
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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