Organic Gardening: Irrigation Systems & Garden Photos

So far, our organic gardening project has been really rewarding and we have lots of colorful garden photos to show our progress!

This spring we began working in the Avalon community garden with the goal of producing fresh organic foods for our meals this summer and fall. We've worked on a number of projects already, but our primary accomplishment has been installation of new irrigation systems in our organic garden and passive solar greenhouse.

Organic Gardening Updates

Irrigation Systems
We recently installed a sprinkler irrigation system and controller in our outdoor organic garden. The garden irrigation system has made the task of watering much more mangeable and has freed our time for other organic gardening projects. In our greenhouse we've set up a timed drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation has proven to be a successful means of watering the greenhouse.
Garden Photos
To see more beautiful garden photos, click here. These photos were taken in our organic garden in mid-July after our sprinkler irrigation system was installed.

New Garden Beds

This spring we created several new beds, which are outlined in our garden plan. Though most of the garden is growing happily, the new beds aren't as successful and will require another season of working the soil before they are properly suited for gardening. In May we turned and fertilized a new in-ground bed for beans and sunflowers. While the sunflowers are thriving, the beans have been slow to grow. However, once harvest is complete the bean plants will be turned into the bed to help increase availbale Nitrogen in the soil. We also created a new bed for flowers and herbs and will be connecting it into the irrigation system soon. Once irrigation is automated in the herb bed, we expect that the plants will be much happier. Our third new bed this year was intended for potatoes. We got a late start getting potatoes into the ground and unfortunatly they don't appear to be growing; most likely because it is too hot.

Organic Gardening Challenges

The biggest challenge we've encountered with organic gardening in this region is the alkalinity of the soil and also of the water. We tested the soil and found it to have a pH over eight! Most plants require a pH less than seven to grow and we are surprised that our garden is growing at all! To help remedy our alkalinity issue we are preparing citrus compost, which we will be applied as acidic fertilizer in the garden. We are also applying coffee grounds to the base of many of the plants, in an attempt to acidify the soil. We've also had several inches of rain, which has an acidic pH, and our plants have really appreciated it as you can see in this photo.

We've also had to battle a variety of garden pests. Squash bugs have been prevalent in many of our beds and have caused several of our squash plants to perish from bacterial wilt. We've simply been removing and destroying the eggs, nymphs, and mating adults by hand. Aphids took a liking to our kale and broccoli, requiring an application of the organic pesticide pyrethrum to get them under control. After the applying the organic insecticide we released several batches of ladybugs, a natural predator of the aphid. Caterpillars and grubs have also plagued our garden and we've just been removing them by hand when we see them; so far their damage has been minimal. Mice or rats have found their way into the greenhouse and we've been taking steps to increase our cat population. All in all, we've managed to treat our pest problems successfully with acceptable organic gardening solutions.

Future Gardening Projects

Projects that we still want to tackle include preparing cold frames for several of our outdoor garden beds and reengineering and expanding the garden fence. We also have another garden bed planned, which we will prepare next spring and plant with a cover crop to help amend the desert soil for future planting. Our interest in vermiculture has also been piqued and we are making plans for worm bed near the garden.

To read more about our organic gardening project, click here.

For information on our greenhouse and our recent passive solar modifications, click here.

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