Thursday, June 05, 2008


One of the reasons I moved to Sonoma Valley was to be near Bob Cannard, Jr., soil shaman and green string farmer, who at the time (twelve years ago), was giving a horticultural class through the junior college. Bob taught about listening to the soil, about adding energy ingredients to the water (pine needles from a high energy forest, deer droppings from a free animal, herbs of various potencies and properties), about respecting weeds, about using rock dust.

He also said something that I’ve neglected to follow at times, always to my later regret. He said, “Before I plant something, I make sure my irrigation is in place.” Ah, yes. It’s so tempting in the nice wet spring to just “stick ‘em in” the ground, the soil being wet and the weather forgiving. And since we’ve just “stuck ‘em in,” when it gets hot and dry, we start to lug the hoses around, and that gets to be a habit and we have “too much” to do (always too much to do in a garden), and then we are lugging around hoses all summer. Each hose watering, say taking 45 minutes, whereas a drip system, once installed entails 10 seconds to turn on a valve and 10 seconds to turn it off. But now we are busy and the 3 hours to set up the drip (and especially, the additional couple hours of shopping for the stuff first time around) seems “too long,” and so the 45 minute waterings go on and on and on, until we’ve spend 50 hours on watering our garden instead of 5 minutes, all because we didn’t have the three hours (five really) to set up the drip system.

Now, if you’ve never set up drip, it can be a bit daunting, and the local supplier is probably not the best way to go. I’d recommend taking the long drive out to Harmony Farm Supply at the west edge of Sebastopol and getting someone there to help you get a real setup. You might want to combine that, if you have a free schedule, with a Wednesday trip to help in the garden at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Occidental. Another time I'll write more fully about that place, but if you want to see beautiful land and what a garden can be with twenty years of one person’s stewardship, this is a real treat.

Anyway, get yourself some half inch plastic tubing, and some of these things called “Barb and Loc Sleeve” (page 17 of Harmony Farm catalog), and some T tape, and something to reduce your water pressure a little and something to connect the hose outlet to the half inch line and you can have gobs of garden covered by one twist of the hose.

This sounds complicated.

Oh, well. Learning something new can either be exciting, if we go slow and really enjoy the process, or frustrating if we rush through and demand that we instantly know now what we don’t know yet.

In fact, “not yet,” as in, “I don’t know how to do a handstand, yet,” is one of life’s great gifts we can give to ourselves.

So maybe you have a nice irrigation system, maybe your irrigation system is Not Yet created. Good luck, and have fun learning and saving big batches of time if you do create one.

And, oh yeah: this saves a lot of water, usually, like 60% or more.

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