Over the course of New Yearâ€™s Day weekend, I committed a few hours to one of my favorite annual pursuits. I poured through the seed and plant catalogs that arrive by mail each winter, planning out the coming yearâ€™s garden.
This is always an enjoyable exercise. But it was made even more fun this year by the knowledge I am prepared to pursue a significantly expanded garden. No fewer than 15 new raised beds are waiting to be filled in the main garden. I will also install four extra-large raised beds within the protected confines of my orchard deer fence.
The orchard beds are great because they provide a lot of room for growing large plants like pumpkins and watermelons. Thereâ€™s only one problem. The orchard isnâ€™t as close to a water source as the garden.
Since Iâ€™m doubling the number of beds from four to eight for 2022, Iâ€™m going to need twice as much water to keep the plants suitably supplied.
This is going to require a little thought. My current solution, which works well, is to place a 35-gallon leg tank filled with water in the back of a wagon and haul it to the orchard using a lawn tractor. But dispensing a tank by gravity takes time. If I were to purchase a larger tank to serve my needsâ€”say, a 70-gallon tankâ€”Iâ€™m apt to spend twice as long watering the garden beds.
During the peak of a busy farming summer, Iâ€™m concerned I wonâ€™t be able to find the extra time.
This is prompting me to explore other options. For example, I could purchase a second 35-gallon tank and dispense water from both tanks at the same time, cutting down on watering time for the expanded garden.
Iâ€™m also curious whether the tanks could provide enough water pressure to work effectively with soaker hoses. If I could thread soaker hoses through each bed, I could theoretically open the tanks and let the water flow evenly through each bed without supervision. This would allow me to work on other orchard projects in the meantime.
Of course, time isnâ€™t the only question here. Fresh water weighs about 8.34 pounds per gallon. My 35-gallon leg tank tips the scales at nearly 292 pounds. Thatâ€™s a fair chunk of weight to haul around with a wagon and lawn tractor.
Part of me wonders if doubling the payload to 584 pounds is asking too much of my tractor. Iâ€™ll have to consult the user manual and see how much weight itâ€™s rated to tow. If it exceeds or pushes the limits, I may need to find a different solution.
Maybe the old John Deere Model 40 has found a new job?
Catch in Place
In addition, Iâ€™m pondering whether I can install gutters along the top of my orchard deer fence to catch rainwater and guide it toward a rain barrel. The front section of the fence is made of wood and spans more than 200 feet.
During a heavy summer rainstorm, it might catch a fair amount of water that I wouldnâ€™t have to haul to the expanded garden using the tractor and wagon.
Suffice to say, there are a lot of possibilities to ponder. I donâ€™t know yet which option (or combination of options) will prove most suitable.
But one thing is certain. My expanded garden presents a fun logistical challenge to analyze while waiting for spring!