Weekend Coffee Share – Gardening With Less Water

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Welcome to our weekly coffee date! How are you doing? How is your week? Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! 

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This week got off to a sweet start, when I unexpectedly was surprised with these beautiful roses. I can’t remember when someone gave me roses the last time, and now at the end of the week they are still as beautiful as the day I got them!

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I’ve been working as usual this week, but on my free time I’ve had a little project. That I’m also going to dedicate a big chunk of my weekend too. I’m learning about rainwater catchment systems, how to safely store water, and gardening methods that require less water. I live in the Mojave Desert right now. I have access to city water at the moment, and it’s relatively easy to have a garden when you have access to city water, but there is not an endless supply of water in the desert. My future homestead is also in the desert. It is not as extreme as it is here. The weather is more comfortable at 5400ft elevation, but water is still something more precious than gold. 

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I love this book, that is both beautifully made, and written in a way that makes you want to do your part in using our water responsively. 

I want to learn everything I can about smart water saving methods for my garden. I’ve watched hundreds of Youtube videos, binge watched Homestead Rescue (some episodes are from the desert,) and I’ve ordered two books from Amazon that I’m studying. I feel that I have solid knowledge about growing crops (5 years of growing the majority of our food in California, along with gardening in cold climates growing up in Sweden,) but this aspect of using less water was something I needed to learn more about. I don’t think that I need to know everything, about everything, before I start my homestead, but knowledge is power, and I have the time to learn now. It would be stupid to not take take advantage of the opportunity. 

Especially one of the books I bought Gardening with less water, by David A. Bainbridge, describes in depth the use of Olla’s. I’ve heard of it before, but now I feel more confident in using them. It’s basically clay pots that you bury in the garden, next to your plants, that slowly evaporates water to the roots. This books claims that you can save up to 90% water, compared to watering at the surface. That is nothing short of a miracle in the desert where every drop counts. I’m very excited about this idea. I can see myself using it in my raised garden beds, and big clay pots next to my trees. I was planning on planting trees at my homestead as soon as I can get it fenced in, (no point in doing it earlier, they would get trampled by free grazing cattle.) Now the ideas of planting trees, in a sustainable way, that would survive, even now when I live three hours away, seem very doable. When I dig the wholes for my trees, I simply dig them bigger, and bury a huge clay pot next to them. When I fill them with water, they will slowly water my young trees for weeks, without me doing anything. (In theory, but I think it could work. I’m going to start small, and document the process when I do it.)

In one of the episodes of Homestead Rescue that I watched they made a Waffle Garden, for a desert homestead. It’s basically a row of square cells, that you dig out, and plant in. The native used this method for hundreds of years. The thought is that when you have monsoon rains, your little cell fills with water for your plants. I am hoping to use this method, in combination with Ollas. I figure that it’ll likely work for the trees as well. The back end of my property is a little lower than the rest, and there’s a seasonal creek flowing there during rains (there is zero chance of the house site being flooded, it’s at the top of a hill.) I’m planning on planting my trees on both sides of where this seasonal creek flows. In combination with Olla’s, I believe they have a really good chance of thriving. I found a good article about how to use Olla irrigation here.

The pieces of the puzzles, that are going to be my homestead, is coming together more by the day. I’m thinking that when I have the excavator there digging for my septic tank, I should have them dig me a root cellar as well. I could frame it later myself, if the hole is already there. That would be a tremendous help for preserving food. When I do move out there, I’m going to be prepared for success. I know there will be hard work. Any gardening is hard work. I like it, but I also like being smart, and prepared.   

Do you need a refill on your coffee?

My daughter is very eager to get chickens again, and we’ve been talking about that, and discussed designs for a chicken coop this week. I encourage her to learn everything she can about chickens. We have many ideas, but haven’t settled fo a design yet. (Still plenty of time.) A portable design would be kind of cool, that way they could fertilize different areas, but it has to be absolutely predator safe. I‘m guessing it’s easier to make a permanent chicken coop predator safe.

I am going to have the perimeter of the property fenced in with a sturdy fence. I’m planning on burying the fence 2ft underground, and have it 8ft high, with metal posts, sturdy livestock fencing, and barb wire on top, and underground. It’s going to be a project, and a big expense, but one of the first things I do. If we, our animals, and crops aren’t safe, then we’re working hard for nothing. There’s coyotes, mountain lions, free grazing cattle, and maybe even the occasional stray wolf. Mexican grey wolves was introduced into Arizona as a part of a preservation project, to keep them from getting extinct. (Wolves are not common in the area. There’s supposedly only 67 in the whole State of Arizona. Some say there’s more.) There’s also predatory birds, rattle snakes, and spiders. Lots to think about.

I don’t think there’s any bears around 😉 I have spent years living in bear, mountain lion, and rattle snake country. I’ve shot a few rattle snakes, and turned them into stew. They are not aggressive by nature, the ones I had to take out were provoked by a horse I had, that was overly curious about everything, and unfortunately loved playing with rattle snakes. The bears have never troubled me (we’re talking black bears, not big bad grizzly’s,) even though I have respect for them. I’ve picked black berries next to them. I’m more afraid of the enemies that aren’t easy to spot, like spiders, and wasps (that I am very allergic too.) The bigger predators you learn to coexist with. My German Shepherd would not let anything creep up on me. I’ll probably get another German Shepherd when we move to our property permanently. To me that is logical. LOL.

It is much easier to handle the high temperatures we are experiencing in Las Vegas now, having an interesting project like this to work on, even if it’s mostly in my head, and on my computer so far. I hope your week is fabulous! If you have a garden, how is it doing? Is it full summer in your area? Happy Summer Solstice!

Love,

Ms Zen

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PS. I am not an associate to any of the links I provided in today’s post, just information that I personally found useful.

37 Comments on “Weekend Coffee Share – Gardening With Less Water

  1. Wow! Mountain lions, rattlesnakes and wolves! We mostly see squirrels, raccoons and an occasional skunk! Sounds like you are planning very well for all situations. Love the idea of the buried clay pots for watering. So clever. And I love your photo! Thanks for the coffee.

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  2. Wow, the expense of the fencing you describe will be so well worth it in the long run, it’s a must have. It sounds like you’ve acclimated to the desert heat MJ, it takes a couple summers in my opinion. Much cooler today, so lovely! Love the photo of you, so pretty! ❤️

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    • Thank you John. I do believe that good fencing can’t be compromised. I’m not sure about acclimatizing, if it means avoid being outside…then yes. I still hate it here, just trying to turn it into something positive. Not waste the time. It wasn’t so bad this morning. The whole week its been 80 degrees at 6am, but not this morning 🙂 I enjoy your interesting photos from around town. Thank you for having coffee today!

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      • Your welcome MJ!

        Acclimating for me means reaching the point where the 100+ temperature doesn’t immediately have you feel as though you can’t handle being in the heat.

        It won’t happen quickly. I’ve been in the valley six years and much prefer the summer.

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        • In that case I have definitely not acclimatized. I pray every time I leave my car at a parking lot that I will reach the grocery store, or wherever I’m going, without collapsing.

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          • Wow, you are really struggling! I hope your future home in Arizona will be cooler, you did mention that it’s above 5000 foot so it’s got to be cooler than the valley! Keep chugging that nice cold water, both of you. ❤️🌵🌴

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  3. I agree totally Yes another puppy. Researching & designing is so much fun I have a book that I keep all my ideas in over 20yrs worth, I love looking at it to see how much ive done & how often I have changed my mind. lol. if clay is cheap enough to source you & your daughter could make your own pottery water urns if that’s the way you go. a fire pit works just as good as a kiln. Love the morning coffee share.

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  4. Those roses are so beautiful!! I am enjoying coffee with you this weekend and I so enjoy reading about all your plans. I can’t believe all the ways you can save water and/or help with desert or dry area plant gardening. The clay pots are so interesting how they work and I love the waffle gardening! I visited the sites you shared and I think I may have to buy some gardening books. Oh and another puppy would be so FUN to add to your chickens on your homestead! I am having a nice weekend, mostly relaxing and riding my horses. Thanks so much for the coffee!! ❤ ❤ ❤

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  5. Lots to do and prepare for, I’m glad you have the time to do so now. Dreams are so engaging!
    We’ve had a very cool spring and it looks like tomorrow the temps return more ‘summery’ in the 80s. Luckily, most of my gardening is done (except weeding, which is ongoing, of course). Mostly flowers, I’m excited to see how it looks as the summer progresses. I love flowers, growing and arranging them is my purpose in life! 🙂

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    • I’m hoping to avoid some detours in the future, by preparing now. I was so impressed when you told me about all year years in the city, before you were able to find your paradise. That is inspiring!

      Do you experience cooler springs in general? Or is it just this year? Your flowers are always something of a marvel. I really enjoy seeing your gardening photos.

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      • Thank you for your kind comments, M. Yes, where there is a will there is a way, lol. My dream of living in the country was strong and persistent! As Churchill said, ‘Never give up.’ 🙂
        Our spring this year has been cooler than usual. Conversely, some years we’ve had temps of 90 in April, which happens occasionally. I prefer the cooler weather as it makes for easier gardening. I wither in the heat!

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  6. It was nice sitting down for coffee with you and hearing about your future plans. The simple life ain’t so simple 😉 I hope you have a great week!

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  7. Our biggest issues with animals are pigeons damaging our fences when landing and a squirrel that likes to store it’s waste peanut shells in our drains. Don’t think I could cope with bears and wolves. Best of luck with all your projects. Sounds like you’ll have your hands full.

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  8. The roses are beautiful and your water project sounds great.

    I have always wanted to own chickens, but it isn’t an option where we live right now. Maybe if we move. I would like to own bees too!

    Have a great week.

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    • Thank you! We can’t have chickens where we live now either, but we can when we move to our property. I’ve had chickens before, and its really is very easy to have chickens, and they are kind of fun to have around. My daughter loves to collect the eggs in the morning. She would also just sit in their enclosure and talk to them for hours. It’s very peaceful. I hope you’re having a great weekend.

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  9. Beautiful roses! And keep being diligent with all your research… it will come in handy when it’s time to begin the Building of your Homestead!

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  10. Water saving methods for gardening sounds so interesting, using clay pots… never thought of that. Love that show Homestead Rescue! I wish you luck with getting your homestead ready, sounds like you are doing a good job preparing! 🙂

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  11. Using water efficiently is important for all no matter where you live. It is a lot of work but it seems you are up for it.

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  12. Wow! Your gardening efforts are impressive. Our garden is a wasteland and after heavy rains overnight, it’s mud. I just ignore it atm but perhaps our efforts will revive in Spring.
    Hope you have a great week.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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    • Thank you Rowena! I’m hoping to be mostly self sufficient when I move to my own property, three hours away from where I currently live. At the moment I’m happy for all the stores nearby. Have a fantastic new week!

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