Today I connected an integrated garden watering system.
We have several gardens. Our main production at the moment is the kitchen greens garden on the deck which is prolifically producing Rainbow Chards and herbs.
This is watered by hand from a big old french wine barrel I bought on a whim by the side of the road coming out of Byron. The barrel is filled by the catchment of the teepee that is stretched over the deck. It can be booster filled by hose from the community water or rain water.
The kitchen greens garden is grown in an old bathtub, the old pumphouse and an old twin washing tub. All have drains, so all the water and nutrients are cycled from the twin tub, to the pumphouse and then finally to the bathtub. The bathtub drain is above a sink, and the sink drains into another bucket. By this point the water is almost clear again.
It is then poured onto the secondary herb gardens of mint, calendula, comfrey, thyme and more parsley. The water then returns to the ground. I'd like to get another bathtub in under the sink and then that into another bed without the need for me to move any more water by hand.
I can add worm castings, worm juice, seaweed extracts, and compost to the first bed in the chain and I know that by the end of the cycles most of the best nutrients have been taken up by the life in the soil.
As we come into Spring, we have prepared several more larger beds for more vegetables. This area was once dominated by a huge privot, a particularly noxious weed around this area. We had it removed by a kanga and some terraced beds cut into the hill.
A rockwall was built by Kirrah and her sister, and the space fenced off by Marc. I collected two wheelbarrows full of cow manure from next door and we filled the back of Karlee + Marc's ute “Dolly" with the slashings from the community pasture. This was piled onto the beds and thoroughly soaked. I also added some of the soil life from a mixture of old compost.
At the top of this garden is our connection to the community water, this water is pumped from Webster's Creek when it is above a certain level. It fills 60,000L's of tanks that landmark the entrance of the community. From here it flows down to our share. We use it directly when it is pumping and also to fill a 9,000lt galvanised steel tank for storage on the top of the hill. This tank also collects the runoff from the bungalow shed roof.
Then down the hill to several taps including one in the new garden. At the moment there is just a tap – however I have plans to run an efficient drip irrigation system over the main beds. A drip system means less work watering and less water wasted as it is released under the mulch layer right where the plant wants it.
As the quality of the creek water is inferior to rain water our garden water systems are fundamentally different to the house water system.
Today we moved four posts and some 2×4's that I am going to build my bike shed with into position. This freed a beautiful space where Kirrah created a garden. It is a raised bed using the besa bricks that kept the wood off the ground.
I fertilised today with seaweed. There is a new surge of growth with the coming of spring. I used the potency of two capfuls in four litres at the top of the system. The runoff will be cycled through another very productive bed. Then onto the tier two herbs and fruit trees.
I just finished watering and can hear the trickle as the water makes its way through the system. Beautiful design.