It has been very hot, dry, and humid here in Rockport, Texas, this summer. My garden friends and I have discussed how much in minutes and how often to water our gardens and fruit trees. We all agree that some kind of drip irrigation is best. Most of my friends water much less than I do to save money, or to save draining their well, or because they keep hoping for rain.

In El Paso where I gardened for over 20 years, it was not unusual to pay over $300 per month to water the garden, fruit trees, and small back yard that had drip irrigation lines under the sod. El Paso gets an average 7 inches of rain a year. The soil there was a rich loam with an even mixture of clay and sand. The soil held moisture well if I watered three days per week, usually for 20-30 minutes twice a day depending on the temperature. There was a caliche layer about 2 feet below the surface that helped maintain the moisture.

Here in Rockport, we have sugar sand (very fine) with little organic matter and limited minerals. In the summer without much rain, the water table can be five feet down. If we have a high tide in the bay 300 or so yards away, the water table can rise. The well water here is too salty and has possible toxic minerals in it, plus it stinks. The sand repels water with an anion negative to negative charge which means the water goes straight down leaving dry sand. I brought in 13 cubic yards of clay and tilled it into my 30×54 foot garden to help hold moisture. I have tilled in 10 -12 inches of compost each of the past ten years plus adding various organic fertilizers and mined minerals in hopes of adding both fertility and a balance between the anion(-) and cation(+) exchange to the help hold the rain and irrigation in the soil. A few drops of Ivory liquid added to a sprinkling can when I drench helps the cation balance.

I water the garden twice a day, every day for from 20 to 30 minutes each time. I water the fruit trees 3 to 4 times per week for 75 minutes each time. In the summer when it is so hot, I will usually use a sprinkler to water each tree for 30 to 45 minutes once or twice a month in order to moisten all the soil around the tree that is not watered by the drip system. I also water in the composted chicken manure that I add in March, June and August. I try to keep the ground around the trees covered with a mulch.

Yes, my water bill is from $225 to $275 per month. Yes, I do have to consider water restrictions when they are in place.

-Herman Green

8/15/2017    Watering