Working on my large veggie garden this year has been quite a challenge. The time and resources it's taken to put it together have taken some work..and still more.
Running a water line back to our garden was a huge priority. In our climate, it hardly rains come July and August, so the garden would be in shambles if I had to drag a hose way out there every few days. It just wouldn't work.
My handy husband has set all of this up so I can start running drip lines down each garden row. This will reduce evaporation that occurs here from overhead watering and reduce fungal disease that often happens when water hits the leaves of plants.
Also, living in an area where drought is a possibility, we have to do everything we can to conserve water. Drip irrigation is the most efficient way we can water our garden. I will elaborate on other water conservation practices at a later time for gardens too.
I don't know if you can tell by this picture, but I'm using a form of gardening called Intensive. This is different than traditional row gardening and very similar to the popular Square Foot Gardening Method.
In this method, you are able to plant more veggies in less space. The beds are set up in a way that once they are prepared, they are left that way. You don't walk in them or cultivate them like a traditional garden. Over time, as needed, amendments are worked in by hand to build and replenish the soil. (and as you can see by the color of our soil we have a lot of silt which is grayish color and have a lot more compost and amendments to add for years to come)
There are several reasons I chose this method, even though we do have plenty of space for any type of garden.
** It's really windy and dry here at times so I want to reduce the transevaporation rate of the plants. Basically the plants and the soil dry out really quickly with sun and wind. By planting these closer in a cluster-like form, it forms a higher level of humidity within the plant group, reducing the evaporation rate thus better protecting the plants
** Pollination rate is higher when planting in groups rather than rows. This is especially true with corn. If you want higher corn yields, plant a square grouping of corn rather than a row.
** Living on silt loam, the water drainage is slow. The beds are mounded and slightly raised to keep from drowning the plants. which brings me to another point.
You may be able to tell from the latter photo that we are digging trenches that run the length of the garden. This is our walkway and also a way to hold/drain rainwater when it falls mostly to prevent pooling and flooding of our garden. It will also help to irrigate water deeper into the soil over a period of several days.
Our garden doesn't look like much now, but as the weeks progress we should be in better shape. Between our winter drought and trying to get the water line ran this past week, we have had our challenges. Now add that wonderful rain over the past few days... yes, I'm gaining hope. :)