Water on the Brain

It doesn't matter where you're trying to grow. The fact is that water is a necessary component to this whole operation.  I doubt I need to elaborate.  Just imagine how cranky you'd be if you didn't get water for days.

This winter, and now spring, has really thrown us for a loop.  Based off historic weather trends and patterns, this year is very screwy.  This is our third week of overcast and rain, making it the wettest May to date.  Typically it's in the 90s and sunny as can be.  Since our snowpack was far less than desirable, we'll take any precip we can get! No complaints here.  However, just because it's been monsoon season for us Utah folk does not mean we are taking our water situation lightly.   

I like to imagine we are at least somewhat aware of our environment and what we're up against trying to cultivate life in this valley.  We didn't name our farm High Desert for the hell of it.  Our elevation, rainfall, climate, they all play a part!  We are always looking for more ways to reduce our mark.  

*A quick side note is an encouragement from us! If you have turf/lawn/grass please read up on these watering guidelines for the summer.  Many people over do their watering... by far! Grass is pretty tough stuff.  Save your MONEY. Save WATER! https://extension.usu.edu/yardandgarden/htm/lawns/establishment/

This year we are trying to hook up as many of our crops as possible to soaker hoses and drip irrigation.  We have used flood irrigation in the past, but would prefer to stay away from this if possible.  If it's not done right there can be flooding and muddy messes and erosion.  This method also waters everything.  Yes, it waters your crops.  It also waters every weed seed! Since we don't spray for weeds we were dealing with man-eating, spiky, invasive weeds all season.  This was a few years ago now when we started our growing venture with 7 acres of corn...!!!  A lot of water is lost through evaporation as well.

Soaker hoses and drip lines help us put the water where we want it and how much.  We've put shut-off valves to most rows so we can control what row we want watered also.  We are not watering potential weed forests and it also helps keep splashing of potential harmful pathogens to a minimum.  Also, many vegetable plants benefit from not letting their foliage get wet.  This helps reduce potential spread of viruses, spores and bacteria.  

A down side to the soaker/drip lines is that it needs to be pressurized.  That's how the water is squeezed out of all those tiny holes.  Right now this means we are using culinary water from the city (expensive).  We are in the process of figuring out the feasibility of a solar pump for our open irrigation ditch.  We could use that water on crops like corn or tomatoes, crops that are not as delicate and susceptible to nasty pathogens, like lettuce.  In the mean time we'll just keep plugging away!

Another project in the works is water catchment, which is now very legal and awesome. We have a few prominent structures around the property that could be wonderful for this.