How to Water Your Garden (Even If There’s a Drought)

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Garden planning needs to include some consideration of how to efficiently water your garden. Methods will vary depending upon size and siting, among other things. If your garden is a few pots on your apartment lanai, bringing it a few pitchers full every day, or even twice per day, shouldn’t be a problem.

But what if you have a large garden in your yard or even a Community Gardens plot? My garden, for example, is five raised beds, three-yard areas, and a deck holding twelve containers of various sizes. That’s more than a few pitchers!

Erica Nygaard recently published the pdf book, “The Dirty Truth About Homesteading.” Even though its directed at those wanting to start a homestead, she does offer actionable points on garden planning and food production. This guide would be helpful for anyone who wants to produce what they consume.

Below are a few suggestions to help you quickly and efficiently water your garden.

A little therapy for you, a little water for your plants 

One great thing about urban agriculture is the ability to hook a garden hose to the city’s water supply. Hook the hose to a spigot, turn on the water, and stand there watching the water soak in. I enjoy being out there. Using this method will help you efficiently water your garden. However, this isn’t very time-efficient. Keep in mind that the average vegetable garden needs about 1″ of water per week. I’ve found it challenging to measure the amount of water using this method. Using buckets of a known measure can help. That is how I water my trees and containers. But not my raised beds. 

Have a watering system do the watering for you

Watering systems come in three primary forms: sprinkler systems, drip systems, and soaker hoses. The system is laid into the ground and attached to the central spigot. Some even put a timer on them. Watering systems are very time-efficient. I enjoy being able to get other things done while the system waters for me. 

Sprinklers: Sprinklers are a bit wasteful of water. Water sprayed in a pattern around the sprinkler head tends to water the sidewalks if they are within range. And sprinklers can be expensive. Some systems are buried in the lawn and have to be dug up if there’s a problem. There goes your lawn. Cheap systems can work. Keep in mind you get what you pay for.

Drip Systems: Drip systems are more water-efficient. The system is laid into the bed or other area with a water line branching off of the main to each plant. Those lines can be buried under mulch or soil. The lines may need to be adjusted year to year if you’re planting different things in that area.

Soaker Hoses: Soaker hoses are permeable along the entire length of the hose. While not quite as water efficient as a drip system, they’re much more so than sprinklers and easier to move than drip lines. They’re also cheaper, but they do rot over time and need replacing.

Your humble writer pronged a hole in her soaker hose one day while using a hand tiller to loosen the soil. Since soaker hoses are much like balloons in terms of water flow, that large hole stopped the flow right there, and the hose became a sprinkler. Adjusting my new sprinkler so the portion of the bed past that hole got watered resulted in an extra shower every day as well. 

Let Mother Nature water those plants

Soil in urban areas tends to be alkaline from cement-leached lime. The natural acidity of rainwater helps counteract that. Best of all, rainwater is free!

Rainwater is an excellent option but unreliable. While I’ve found that my plants like rainwater better than municipal, this method is a bit uneven. Some days it’s a deluge and others a sprinkle, and none might fall for days. Inconsistent rain might work well for established vegetation but not for vegetable gardens. 

Collect rainwater while you have the chance

With a considerable portion of the country solidly in drought, some municipalities have begun rationing water. Home gardens aren’t always a priority for those making the rules. Granted, the concept of drought means it’s not raining enough, but when it does rain, why not save some if you can?

While it’s not illegal to collect rainwater at the federal level, some states regulate it, and others don’t. Then, of course, there are city and county levels to consider. My city allows residents to collect rainwater, but the collection barrels can’t be viewable from the street side due to “aesthetic concerns.” Guess where my downspouts are! I also live on a corner lot, which makes my entire yard viewable from the street. That presents a challenge for me. 

Another consideration with rainwater collection is OPSEC. Do you want your neighbors to see that you have water when they don’t? There are many ways to decorate and disguise your barrels, of course. Good decoration might even satisfy aesthetic concerns. And, I will repeat it, good fences make good neighbors. 

Use techniques that require less water.

Particularly with weather concerns, there are some ways to conserve water in your garden that Daisy wrote about in her book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide.

  • Landscape with plants that grow naturally in your area.  They should require little in the way of additional watering. Your county extension office can often help with this. You can also take a hike and find many lovely plants that thrive whatever you climate happens to be.
  • Grow organic. Chemical fertilizers can increase a plant’s need for water. (This book has some amazing tips for organic drought gardening.)
  • Use an organic mulch in your garden to help retain moisture.
  • When you clean out your fish tank, reserve the water for your garden. Your veggies will love the nutrient boost!
  • Devise a gray water catchment system for your shower, your washing machine, and your kitchen. This water can be used for flushing, watering plants, and for cleaning. Do keep in mind that some counties do not allow gray water to be reused, even in the midst of an epic drought. Do what you will with this information.
  • Use a nozzle on your hose so that you are only putting water where you want it, not spraying it uselessly as you walk to the garden.

There are all sorts of creative ways to conserve water while keeping your garden thriving.

How do you water your garden?

Have you discovered any watering tricks for your garden? Do you face any challenges adequately watering your plants?

Watering your garden is a huge consideration. Proper planning can save a great deal of time, money, and wasted effort. Isn’t your food source worth it? Do you use any special water conservation techniques? Do you have a unique watering system? Let’s talk about it in the comment section. 

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Amy Allen

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  • Great topic Jayne!

    The wife found and we are trying grow walls this year.
    I have found with rain, sometimes the water does not get to the lower levels, the top ones do.

    And, as you pointed out in a previous article, smaller containers require more watering.
    I have found when it is hot, sunny, I need to water them twice a day.
    The cukes, runner beans, melons, squash, peas, are all coming up nicely. Most of herbs are doing well. Parsley, not so much.

    Potato question: I am going vertical with them. At what point do I add more soil, and how far up their leaves?

    • 1stMarineJarHead I am confused about going vertical with a sub terrain tuber AKA Potato?

      I cut a piece off with an eye, plant it in compost enriched soil, keep it watered, hill all but about 20% of the current vegetation to allow the potato to grow more spuds on the newly buried parts and harvest when ready. I “Hill” every week to ten days according to their growth. Sometimes I poach a few baby potatoes as they are awesome roasted with whole garlic heads.

      Potatoes don’t need a lot of Nitrogen, just makes greenery Not potatoes. 5-20-20 is my choice if I am low on composts. Same with garlic and onions.

      I’ve even grown Potatoes in my Elderly neighbors Flower Beds as they Look NICE and later when I help her clean up for winter I give her a basket of fresh potatoes to enjoy. She like baby potato poaching also. If your gonna water flowers at least I hope they are edible or medicinal or maybe hide a potato patch 🙂

      I’ve seen the “Vertical” systems from pallets and such, not too impressed. Let us know if the internet is still free later this season as to the results.

      Watering plants is a critical skill. Too little stunted plants, too much wasted water and oddly Stunted Plants.

      Hand watering with a hose for example often gives you FAR LESS Water than you *think* your giving.

      Also rate of flow is a real issue at my place. Too fast flow of water MOST runs off and never gets to the target plants.

      I’ve gone to using 5 gallon buckets with a 3/8 inch hole at the bottom to direct a nice slow watering to my Fruit Tree Guilds. Guilds are wonderful ways to multi-task one area with for example my Apple Trees are surrounded by Block 14 Russian Comfrey (edible and AWESOME Fertilizer Tea chop and soak) Garlic , Walking Onions both nice and deters the bugs and deer from my Apple Trees for 2 years so far.

      I use gallon Vinegar Jugs again with a 3/8 inch hole (smaller just clogs from organic debris) to insure that my Elderberry Bushes and Blue Berry Bushes GET that Gallon of water aimed at their roots.

      I use a soaker hose for my raised bed gardens as I plant Companion plant densely and the Egyptian Walking Onions, Garlic and Potatoes seem to love it.

      My raised bed soil is so loose with compost I can dig potatoes with my hands. Permaculture hint, when in doubt ADD MORE ORGANIC materials into your soil. Lightens the soil, ADSORBS and Hold More Water (AND Oddly helps with DRAINAGE when you have TOO MUCH Rainfall) generates a more Ph neutral and feeds those plants.

      JUST BEWARE OF ROUNDUP (Scotts yard) and such contaminated Straw and manures from horses eating Roundup sprayed feeds. I’ve SEEN good gardens turned into a dead zone for over a year from that stuff. Heirloom Seeds are NOT made to deal with that stuff.

      I help elderly neighbors who are too poor to buy into the Scotts Yard nonsense and get lots of shred able leaves and lawn clippings for my compost piles.

      Permaculture tip If you see Dandelions REJOICE that’s not a Scotts Yard and the soil is decent. Plus Dandelions are wonderful to eat in salads, steamed like greens and were ACTUALLY Imported by our European Forefathers as a Spring Tonic Herb to refresh them after a LONG winter eating leftovers from the root cellars.

      MY Local Rainfall “device” is a tuna tin. As I walk around the place (Farmers Footsteps Best Fertilizer) I check it after a rain to SEE how much I REALLY got and adjust my watering thusly.

      • Hi Michael!
        Yep on the using boxes/pallets to grow potatoes vertically.
        I let some overwinter (covered with hay) and pleasantly surprised they survived and sprouted.
        I was asking as to when I should add more soil to go up, and how much of their leaves should I cover (sorry I was not clear).
        The new potatoes I planted are also doing well.
        I use a mix of 2 year old manure and hay. Seems to be doing well, as this is the same I use on the rest of the gardens.
        Of course it will be harvest time when I will really know (my last frost date is just before Memorial Day weekend).

        Thank you for all the suggestions/input!

        • 1stMarineJarhead, I believe what you’re referring to is hilling your potatoes. As the plant grows up, you add soil, basically burying it so that more tubers will grow from the main stem. If memory serves, this method works better with indeterminant potatoes. Determinant potatoes grow in a layer from the mother seed and don’t respond as well to being hilled. As for how far up-I saw a guy on a gardening show who pretty much buried his plants. I’ve never tried that so experiment as you will, but he seemed to be doing well at the end of the show. Since all of mine this year are determinant I’m not hilling them.

          Michael, thanks for the tips! I totally agree about glyphosate and while we’re using bad language, dicamba as well. I admit to using some pesticides, but only when and how much I must to get the job done. They’re terrible for soil fauna, but losing 90% of my strawberry crop last year to leather rot wasn’t much fun either. And I agree-measuring how much water you’re putting in is very important. I found out the hard way that top watering and letting it soak in a couple of times simply did not provide enough water. This year I’m using the bucket method for the containers and fruit trees, and soaker hoses in the raised beds. I also use the Finger Test to determine whether or not I even need to water. Please let me know if I should elaborate on that.

          I got the idea for this article from Robert’s article on drought. No water, no garden. I’m glad it’s useful!

          • Hi ya, Jayne!
            Tell ya what, we are going to find out!
            I will “hill” them and record the findings later.
            (Will write up an article for Daisy later at harvest season!)

          • Never knew there were determinate and indeterminate potatoes. Only thought that applied to tomatoes. Thank you.

  • I keep a large garden. We have tried various methods, including soaker hoses, which tend to clog up from our hard water. What is working well now is a combination of wood chip and whatever other mulch I bring in and several rain bird type sprinklers mounted at the corners of 6’ fencing that I run using a timer, supplemented with spot hand watering. I just make sure I’m not watering in windy conditions.

    This is our third year using this method, and we have only had to replace one sprinkler (compared with replacing many hoses every year). While it seems the soaker hoses would be more efficient, they really weren’t.

    • I can see why they wouldn’t be in your case. Hard water causes many problems! Good for you for finding such a creative solution! Thanks for sharing it, for others who might benefit.

  • Full Disclosure–I stole this idea from someone on the interwebz:

    We all take showers, right? We turn on the hot water knob and wait for the flow to warm up to our liking. That water, which otherwise would go down the drain, can be collected in a pail—you’d be surprised to see how much–and then it goes into plastic jugs on my balcony, ready to use when watering time rolls around.
    Yes, we get a lot of rain here in S. FL, but I’m too lazy to collect it.

    • That works! I actually do that in winter to fill my humidifier. And I too have rain barrels in my basement, but I haven’t set them up because I don’t want to attract unwanted attention from the city. But I have them if the water stops flowing!

  • I have a dehumidifier in the basement. I use the water that it collects to water my plants. It is very helpful because I can save the water and use it only when I need it. Right now it is reducing my water consumption for my garden by 25%.

    • That’s significant! With costs going nowhere but up, every creative idea helps. Thanks for sharing!

  • I raise garden in high mountain desert. Ancients used a method referred to as waffle gardening. Lityle raised walks shielded plants from wind and helped hold in moisture. I accomplish the same thing by using untreated pallets. They are laid out side by side and I plant between the slats. The support structure is now my series of paths to walk on for planting and harvesting. I have 14 matching pallets in two rows 7 pallets long. It is perfect for growing anything except potatoes. I just intensly companion pIant and use soaker hoses set in place. For root vegetables I alternate between leaf crops and root crops in the rows or between roots and faster crops that will be harvested before the roots make. A double row of tomatoes uses 3 tall tee posts and 30 ft of wire fencing set above the height of seedling plants. Drop strings to plants and use soft coated wire to tie up plants as they grow. A loop of soaker hose keeps it most with leafy veggies like lettuce planted to shade the ground and hold moisture. Bare dirt dries quickly. I plant everywhere intensly with good companions. The strawberry bed im planting isn’t raised but will be mulched with a few inches of leaves from the elm and cottonwood trees in the area. Berries- raspberries on a trellis, a section of collected blackberries, a section of Thornley blackberries are all planted where leaves naturally collect. That helps hold moisture. Elderberry clumps are planted to take advantage of drip lines from roofs. I haven’t been able to buy gutters so I plant to use those areas. The early lettuce and peas get the advantage of the last snowmelt and any rare summer rains. Hazelnuts grow near my old leaky yard faucet. A long bed that was part of the original garden has herbs that live from year to year. Soaker hoses are set 18″ apart with stepping stones for harvesting. Purslane, wild mellows of two kinds are a c allowed to live there along with mellons and winter squash. I built a zero fence down the middle that acts as a trellis for Vining th I ngs like cucumbers. Again – it’s always intensly planted. My fruit trees have walking onions, garlic, chives, Swiss chard and more growing around them. I set drip line containers in place to fill with a hose so I can monitor tree watering and add compost teas. I have full size but young pear trees, dwarf cherries(3), dwarf mulberry(2), dwarf apple(2), and full size d apples (3). Most are younger trees. I have grapes on a welded rebar arbor. 40 year old thompson seedless, younger red flame and concord. Wild black cherries and wild plums are thickets where they spread by seed and root runners. Under the shade of an ancient apricot tree I planted plantain, wild violets, Johnny jump ups, and seed this year for hostas. Salad greens and radishes are scattered there as well.
    Mulch is either living green leafy vegetables or fallen leaves. I have a couple of small gogi berry’s in a pot until I decide where they would best be planted. Same with new raspberries, blackberries, a Siberia pea bush(edible pods when young and seeds for chicken feed).
    Most planting is planned by how thirsty the plant will be and what grows as a good companion with what. I add flowers in the garden and along paths. The duck pond-tiny- drains for cleaning to a pre formed pond along the edge of the garden. Cattails and duck weed grow there. It overflows to another pre firmed pond with water rice from India, watercress and cattails. The humidity and any overflow aid the garden. Duck water has to be cleaned often. It is cleaned in the first garden pond and edibles grow in the second garden pond. The cattail pollen in the first pond is edible but I don’t eat the rest in that pond. Any chicken bedding, usually leaves, is composted from year to year. All fruits and vegetables harvested are eaten fresh, canned, or sun dried. Sometimes shared with other seniors in the area.
    I don’t measure water exact but I check for moisture with a meter to water again only as needed. Mulch and wooden pallets help hold water soil in place. Planting so there is little bare ground saves a lot on watering with bigger yields in a small area. Bare dirt blows away. I work to save top soil also.

    • PA-lease, please send detailed pics!! Your set up sounds absolutely fantastic!! But far beyond my comprehensive in this short explanation. You become got to show what you verbalized!

      • Clergylady, I concur with AJ

        I would love to get some photos and an article from you. Please hit us up at [email protected] for more information on becoming one of our writers! You have so many wonderful stories to tell.

  • A PS:
    I have several 330 gallon water totes in heavy wire cages. Since were going all solar those are filled in daylight hours. I have faucets set up for 3/4″ hoses. I can gravity feed water to any of the garden or tree areas. Warm but not hot water is good when watering plants. Especially good in spring and fall. It will be easy to switch gray water to those containers for Spring to Fall use when I finish those connections. I also have a dozen lengths of 4″ thin wall PVC for hydroponics once the lean-to greenhouse is finished. I’d planned on a walapini but without the use of my tractor it won’t happen. I’m getting too old to dig it by hand. So plans change.
    We have to stay planning, learning, and flexible.

    • I am stunned! And a tad jealous, to be honest. I’m going to read more about waffle gardening for sure. Your garden sounds amazing and I’m going to consider how I might apply those principles to mine. Thanks for sharing!

  • Love this topic!

    I have numerous cloth raised beds growing a variety of tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, kale, herbs, cabbage, onions, cukes and zucchini. I spend 2 hours per week (1 hour Sunday and 1 hour Wednesday/Thursday) watering by hand using a hose and sprayer.

    All my beds are heavily straw mulched so the soil stays moist longer.

    I also have a couple “LettuceGrow” hydroponic gardens in my basement using grow lights for my year round lettuce garden!

    • Sounds awesome! Does your hydroponic setup require lots of power? That’s been one of my concerns with those; if the power goes out you’re sunk. How do you handle that?

  • Hydroponic methods allow you to grow the same crops on 1/10th the water. If you go to extremes, aeroponic methods will allow you to grow on 1/20th the water of soil gardening. More importantly, you get 2 1/2 times the growth rate of soil gardening with Hydroponics. Take a class at any “Controlled Environment Agriculture” (CEA) school to learn more.

    Most people overlook the elephant in the room, which is to increase your crop yield by proper growing methods. In that regard, the Mittleider Gardening method has proven for half a century that it is the most productive gardening & food producing method to be found anywhere in the world. You can easily increse your vegetable yield by 10-12x, and it is without a doubt the most economical method to boot. Hint: You grow in a sterile grow medium – sand, sawdust, and perlite.

    There is a gardening “Boot Camp” taught twice a year in Kansas City MO, and is well worth the price. You’ll learn how to irrigate with hydroponic methods, and produce yields that are easily the above mentioned 12x of any other gardening system. The other showstopper that most people overlook is plant pathology. If you don’t know how to handle bugs & fungus, then you ARE going to go hungry!

    I’ve done 5 semesters of CEA at the University of Arizona (Tucson), and take courses from CropKing and other growing schools. Nothing comes close to the production of a Mittleider Garden. They teach you to grow food as if your life depends on it.

    I took the Mittleider class about 4 years ago, so I don’t remember the web site. But easily found if you look it up. LoL, and I haven’t gone hungry or had to buy food at the grocery store since!

    • I’ve read about the Mittleider method but never tried it. I volunteered with an aquaponics org a few years back, and they grew in soil because the food tasted better than grown in chemicals. Neither plants nor vegetables grow without proper nutrition so if not in the soil, those have to be added. If others want to grow in sawdust, go for it. Not my cup thanks.

      With respect to hydroponics and aquaponics, those are great methods but again, require lots of power for the lights and the pumps. There’s also some chemical testing involved to keep the system in the proper balance, especially for the fish. Great if you can do it!

      Always learning 🙂 thanks for the tips! I’ll look into those programs. Right now I’ve got my eye on a Purdue program that’s also pretty intensive. So many quality programs, so little time!

      • Jayne, you just destroyed your strawman version of a gardening system, that is neither hydroponic and absolutely NOT the Mittleider! I highly recommend you take a few minutes and actually learn the method, especially if you are going to denigrate it in a public forum.

        The central theme behind CEA is to increase your food yield by an order of magnitude, while reducing water and energy costs, again by an order of magnitude (10x) over conventional gardening.

        On top of boosting yields and reducing energy and water costs, the “Grow Food As If Your Life Depends On It” theme strongly embraces the idea of growing food SAFELY! If you are well informed, then you’ll realize we are about 10 years past being able to safely grow food with composting or any sort of method that includes animal products, including toxic or contaminated soil (Roundup). Like GMO, the animal products now include pathogens that you cannot cook out or remove from the food (ie Mad Cow disease).

        When animals are forced to eat their own poop (commercial chicken farming) or eat surface vegetation that is contaminated with chemtrails, contaminated surface water runoff, and commercial fertilizers (etc), it no longer is safe to consume food that is grown with long obsolete methods that include composting, chemical pollution, or GMO products anywhere in the food chain. However, that is not my soap box, so I’ll just say it is MUCH safer to grow in a sterile grow medium where you can eliminate 95% of the bugs & fungus & disease problem, and completely control every component of what goes into your food.

        Back to the Mittleider method of food production, which again is the most economical and safest way to produce food, and can be done in any climate in any region of the planet or altitude. I think the genesis of the program 80 years ago was a bit of religious competition between the 7th Day Adventist and the Mormon Missionaries, helping to feed native populations as part of their outreach program. In any event, it is a carefully studied and engineered program that was developed over about 40-50 years. Extremely precise methods to grow an exact amount of food with an exact amount of fertilizer and water.

        The Fertilizer and nutrients? Just plain old 16-16-16 fertilizer or any variant of equal portions (18-18-18 etc) and a 10 oz bag of micronutrients provided by the Mittleider HQ that you can purchase at the school or online. In other words, the same 16-16-16 Fertilizer that can be purchased locally just about any where in the world.

        Energy and Lights? This is the part where your comments and apparently lack of knowledge really annoyed me. My energy costs are zero. ZERO! I grow my food in the sun, just like everyone else. I used conventional fertilizer, just like everyone else. (and add 10oz of micronutrients) I have a well that is pumped by a windmill, and feed all 21 of my Mittleider Gardens with gravity. No Lights, No Energy costs, and very little maintenance once I set it up. Every year I change out the $30 timer to feed my gardens.

        You are correct that Purdue has an excellent CEA program. Purdue and UofA (Tucson) are the two best in the USA, and have been for decades. The UofA team is the one that set up the Land Pavillion at the Disney facility in Florida. Very intelligent people (PhD) with a great legacy system of accumulated knowledge, as is the Mittleider system. Many of the University and “Master Gardener” programs have challenged the Mittleider school to a “grow off” over the years. From the information presented in the school at MO, you’ll see the Mittleider method has outgrown the Ag University Methods by 10x-12x every single time. Which is why the Mittleider methods are now taught in many of the nation’s Ag (A&M) schools.

        If you have normal water pressure (ie a spigot) you can grow with food with the Mittleider Method. No lights, no pumps, and no other energy required. The yield increase comes from expert knowledge on how to configure and space your plants, and how to rig vining crops so you can produce extremely large yields on and over the same sq ft garden. Yes, you can even use the grow methods in soil if you wish, but after attending the school and seeing the health risks involved, it is highly unlikely that you would choose to do so.

        I grow up in the mountains, about 7,000 Ft MSL in a desert climate. I normally only get 1 grow season per year of between 3 and 4 months. Using the Mittleider method, I get 3 full grow seasons – again with ZERO energy or lights/pumps costs!

        You mention you’d like to attend the Purdue class and learn about some of the other intensive programs. LoL, a “Boot Camp” is not intensive enough for you? I share the same passion about learning the best growing methods on the planet, to include learning how it was done all through different periods of history and climate conditions. My point was that I took the time to attend all of these excellent schools, and found the best and healthiest and most efficient growing methods in the nation. The Mittleider out performs them all – by an order of magnitude. And it is current with 21st century methods such as eliminating toxins and chemicals from your food, and avoiding the consequences of CAFO and Chemtrails, and other such threats to our health.

        I share these lessons learned and gardening methods with you and the other readers, so they too can “Grow Food as If Your Life Depends on It.” Because it does! Now more than ever, with food scarcity converging at the same time as some major shifts in the weather. Not to mention the Food Supply Chains crashing. Optimizing food production, and being able to grow at the individual/family level is critical to our survival. Starting now!

        Please don’t dismiss or kick under the bus such valuable information. Essentially, you are dismissing Wisdom based upon mis-informed Opinions, and that doesn’t normally produce the best outcome. I am an Engineer, and I approached the problem with vigor to learn how to produce food in the most efficient and safest way possible. On the same patch of land that I used to supplement my food purchases, I now easily grow 15x what I consume, and have plenty to share with my neighbors. Also an extremely important idea to carry forward with the crashing food supply.


        • As I said, I’ve read about Mittleider. If that’s what works for you, go for it. If you prefer to grow your food in sawdust and add a ton of chemical fertilizer, then call it safe and efficient, that’s up to you. If the best you can do in the way of argument is call me ignorant because I disagree with your opinion, then you’re really not worth my time. The human race has thrived without CEA for a very long time and we’ll continue to do so. Honestly, I find the statement dubious that your aquaponics/hydroponics system needs no energy input whatsoever. Every such system I’ve read about and experienced in person requires heavy inputs, not only of energy but also chemical fertilizers. As for the pathogens, I’ll trust my immune system before I trust sawdust of unknown origin. A strong immune system can fight off many ills, including Covid. If your method varies, knock yourself out. I really don’t care what you think of my method. I’m happy with it and that’s what matters.

    • It also occurs to me that this site might benefit from your expertise in CEA. Perhaps you should write for them too. Unless of course you’re actually a troll with all the balls of a neutered cat. Peace.

      • This one is getting long in the tooth, but we’ve yet to communicate some rather important points, so I’ll go one more round and then give it a rest.

        Jayne, I’m not here to debate gardening methods with you. I’m simply trying to add valuable and perhaps life saving information to the “food growing in the apocalypse” conversation.

        You trashed some critically important facts, where it might have been wiser to simply absorb the information and add to your knowledge base. Especially when you admit that you know nothing about it! The end result is that you fouled the deck, and committed two very egregious Journalistic sins.

        First, you dismiss the Mittleider and Hydroponic methods, from the basis of “having read about them.” Well, once upon a time I wanted to be an airline pilot, so I read about it. Anybody ready to put me behind the controls on their flight?

        If you don’t have the wisdom or experience, would it not be wiser to listen to those who do? The logic escapes me why you would use dismiss some rather stunning claims about increasing food yields by 10x and decreasing water usage by 10x – without so much as a “tell me more” attitude. I have no heartburn if it isn’t your cup of tea, so just leave the information for others to digest and move on. But please don’t criticize or mischaracterize something you know nothing about. Which brings up the next, and much more significant Journalistic sin.

        From a semi-authoritative position as the Guest Author, you lambast the growing methods and discredit extremely valuable information that is life saving in the context of the Apocalypse. Denigrate and mischaracterize a solution that gives a 10x yield in crops, a 10x reduction in water, and an increase in growth rates by 2.5x based on what? Knowledge built on conversation and gossip? Oh, and Reading about it! The end result is you deliberately misinform and misdirect the readers away from the credible and extremely valuable grow methods. Pure and simple, that is EVIL behavior!

        Besides Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Mittleider (etc) growing methods that your comments indicate an incomplete knowledge base, you also seem to have gaps with fertilizers and grow mediums. Plants require minerals for food. 16 total minerals, of which 3 are derived from the air and 13 other minerals from commercial fertilizer or another food source. You seem to think that fertilizers are some sort of nasty chemicals, such as that produced by Monsanto. I’ve worked in 45 countries and 5 continents, and fertilizer in all of them is simply the extraction of the minerals and naturally occurring substances (N,P,K) via mining or gas purification. It would be accurate to say fertilizer is the extraction of naturally occurring substances, and using fertilizer in gardening is simply returning those minerals back into the earth from where they were extracted. No demons, entities, additives, or nasty (drug) chemicals involved! Here is an informative brochure that might help:
        US Fertilizer Production

        For people that wish, they can purchase “Organic Fertilizers” that are made from such things as animal waste products, or create their own with composting methods. If you attend any of the agriculture schools such as the CEA classes at Purdue or Arizona (or Mittleider, Cropking, etc) you’ll find that it is really unwise now to use animal products in your food production, simply because the toxins and disease cannot be entirely eliminated. This is a recent development over the past 2-3 decades, and getting worse.

        Grow mediums? You don’t like sawdust? Sterile means sterile regardless of the medium. I’ve used in my research extremely toxic and poor quality soils, and in the process sterilized the soil just to see if I could eliminate the toxins & chemicals and keep them from leeching into the food. Sawdust is simply from, well you know where it comes from. In many towns and communities, you can get all the sawdust you want for free. One of my indoor gardening experiments to grow fruit bearing vegetables in a hydroponic system with LED Grow lights uses recycle beer bottles as a sterile grow medium. And grows wonderfully! Whichever methods you choose to grow and fertilize your plants boils down to choice. The intelligent choices tend to be based on the most current and accurate information.

        I don’t present myself to be an expert in gardening. My claim is that as an Engineer and Research Analyst that I go out and find the best growing methods that produce the best yields, use the most efficient practices, and will work in any environment to include the degraded growing conditions expected in the Apocalypse. After traveling to the four corners of the nation and taking all of the credible hydroponic, aeroponic, CEA (etc) gardening classes that I could find, I presented the information for the benefit of the readers. When I find outstanding programs and brilliant people, I do all I can to learn of their methods and build a network with them, to include taking classes from the schools or visiting the hydroponic production facilities. You’ll find that several of the contractors and staff from the University of Arizona (CEAC Program) have been to my property to collaborate on the indoor production of fruit bearing vegetables. Likewise, in years gone by the business owners of such places as the Mittleider program and Hydrostacker ( ) have also visited my home and research projects. It is a wonderful exchange of information, and I’ve met and made friends with a number of interesting people.

        For what it is worth, my research goes way beyond food production. If I could boldly make a claim of my expertise, is that I am a research analyst for the Apocalypse. Food independence and production is but one small portion of what we need to know. In a knowledge and wisdom sense, I and my business partners are among the most prepared anywhere in the country. Note that I’m not talking about wealth and resources, just knowledge and wisdom. Which is what it will take to survive and thrive during the Apocalypse!

        You made some comments or allegations about my relationship to a neutered cat, and then imply that I’m a troll. Strange, as most sites I visit the definition of a troll is somewhat who makes such baseless personal attacks. In any event, I’m not going to exchange personal insults with you. My heartburn is unprofessional behavior, which I will call out every time in a public forum – because it is so destructive to the communication process. And detrimental to success. Likewise, you suggest that I contribute articles if I have any expertise in Controlled Environment Agriculture. Hello? I was doing exactly that before my information was lambasted and dismissed, and I was accused of being a troll. It is easy to contribute information, especially to a receptive group of like minded people, trying to learn about and prepare for the Apocalypse. The hard part is to keep the ignorant and arrogant (and evil) people from destroying the conversation.

        In closing, if you wish or need you can have the last word. This concludes my part of the conversation. I would recommend, and this is a serious recommendation to help you improve your journalistic skills: That you take some Business Ethics classes along with some creative writing. You have much to offer and seem to be a good writer. You just need to get the unprofessional piss and vinegar out of your material. Realize that when you post you are not necessarily the expert! You are simply part of the forum that is bringing people together, and facilitating the conversation. In this case an outstanding forum put together by Daisy. Please don’t pollute the water, or lead the conversation into destructive patterns. There is way too much at stake, and we ALL need each other, regardless of our opinions.

        Peace and respect!


  • I have dozens of 3 to 7 gallon nursery containers. If I had to I could garden in those. I often heal in young trees or vines and bushes until I can use a pick and dig holes. Even right now with 100° Temps I water those just every 2nd or 3rd day. Bigger is better when it comes to container gardening. I built shelves for seed flats in a dappled shade area. I start them inside on shelves then move the flats outside to start hardening off. Then mornings in full sun before planting out in the garden.

    • I agree, bigger is better with containers. Small is fine for greens & herbs but the more nutritious things like squash etc need lots of space. Thanks for sharing!

  • I rent, so I’m not putting in any permanent watering systems. I collect some rain water, but not as much as I’d like to, for my garden.
    What I do is use the “Olla” approach, only . . . cheaper.
    I collect empty plastic soda/water bottles. Cut off the tops. “Plant” them in the ground of my garden either between two plants (like tomatoes) or in the middle of 5 or 6 plants (like peppers). Once in the ground securely (and maybe with some rocks in them to keep them ‘planted’, I use skewers to poke some holes in the bottom. They are easy to fill. The put water down deeper in the ground and nearer the plant roots. Water there doesn’t evaporate into the air.
    For denser beds of beans or carrots or other smaller plants, I can do the same thing dispersed in the bed, or I can take those top few inches of the bottles that I’ve cut off and ‘plant’ those in the ground, top down. I can pour water into that ‘funnel’ and it, too, will go deeper into the bed and not be spread on the top of the soil like more ‘normal’ watering does.

  • We have water catchments on the property, and have installed underground watering for all raised beds. Simple as getting some pvc pipe, drill holes that will shoot to the sides and bottom of the beds, lay it in the middle of the bed, dig it down as far as you would like, we bring the front of the pipe up, drill a hole in 5 gallon buck and then add a drain cover to protect getting anything stuck in the pipes. Buckets collect the rain and add additional water into the beds. I do not do top watering as I want the roots to grow down not up. In containers I place bottles (plastic) from water to soda and juice. Again drill holes to allow the water to escape below the ground and fill it up once with the hose. Top watering is mostly evaporation and causes roots to reach up. Stronger plants and thrieving plants are what I want.

  • One thing I’m doing is saving the water that I rinse my vegetables in to water the herbs on the deck. It seems like a little thing but has added up to several gallons this spring.

    • Little things add up! You go! I’m just amazed at the creative solutions I’m reading here. I’m going to have to try some of them myself!

  • 1stMarineJarhead,
    Container potato growing: continue to add soil after 4-6 inches of new growth, until you reach the top of your container. Then stop.

    I have seen most of my water run off this year, ground so dry. I water by hand. I water a bit at each plant, and continue, and then circle back, in the past. But this year, it isn’t working. So, I poke a stick in the soil about 2-4 inches from main stem, and then pull out stick and water into the hole. My plants are doing much better, both in ground and in pots.

    I collect water from my water purification system weekly. Some goes for human consumption and some for plants. I save water from dehumidifier and from when I wash my or son’s hair in sink, and water whichever plant needs it most. I collect rain water also.
    I also use grow cloths over my veggies, open on ends, and whatever mulch I have and add it throughout the season.
    My friends laugh at me. They say water is so cheap, I shouldn’t need to conserve it!
    Love reading all the comments here!

  • OMG! Watering a garden, what a radical topic. The author and all who has posted here should be sent to the Gulag ASAP! (sarcasm)

    I still can’t understand how this site got defunded…..?

    • Probably because we have the unmitigated gall to live in a self-reliant way and like to share information so others can too. Some seem to be trying to bring about a total, 1984-style collectivism, and individualism has no place in such an order. Neither does self-reliance. And there’s that nonsense about alternative news that’s in opposition to the Official Narrative. That’s probably what did it, IMO.

      I’m reminded of the scene in Atlas Shrugged where they’re torturing John Gault and the machine pukes out. The technician can’t figure it out, so Gault is giving them instructions on how to fix it. Pretty sardonic actually.

      Having just paid my quarterly tribute to the King, I need to go weed. That’ll make me feel cleaner. Sigh.

      • @ Jayne, yup! I believe that the fact some of this sites articles end up on ZH and Whatfinger might also have something to do with it as well. I need to steak my tomatoes, pick green beans, and pull onions and garlic tomorrow. I do my gardening on Mondays as it “helps” . God Bless

  • There are a ton of comments here and I have not read them all, so probably someone has already made these suggestions. If you are not permitted to use rain water catchment barrels in your town, put out and empty kiddies swimming pool and let that catch the rain water. You can also leave some buckets lying around your yard, and collect rain water in those. During droughts when there are regulations against watering, I use organic camp soap for bathing and then use the used bath water for watering. It’s labour intensive, but it works if you cannot use municipal water for your plants.

    • Awesome ideas! And labor intensive beats watching your garden die, especially if there’s a food shortage. Thanks for sharing!

  • It takes several seconds to get hot water from our faucet so I have a bucket on stand by to catch the pre-hot water to use on plants in my garden or flower pots.

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