Round Table Farm

Donkeys, Goats, Books and Chickens

Watering the Garden

The Wobbler

Each year, it has been challenging to get water to all parts of our 1/4-acre garden. We have water rights along our ditch, which means we get all the water in the ditch for 1 day every ~2 weeks. While we can do a little flood irrigation, we can’t simply throw the ditch gate wide and hope for the best. That would flood out our garden and erode the little pasture we do have. Top soil is thin and precious in this part of the world.

The Spinner

So this year we are trying something different. First, we tried a shower-wand attached to a long garden hose. But this was a manual watering, as in one of us had to stand out there and walk around watering. For 2-3 hours. Twice a day, if we truly cared. Well, after the muscles of my upper back locked up fiercely one afternoon, M3 decided we needed something else.

We purchased two small pumps and have placed them in buckets that have significant holes in the bottom. This whole configuration is then placed in the ditch. The holey buckets keep most of the sand and other debris from the pumps (letting the pumps last longer) and the pumps pump water to our sprinklers. We messed around with a variety and finally found 2 that we like. The typical sprinkler heads that we tried first had fine holes and the sand from the ditch water was clogging them easily.

But these guys are the bomb. They have wide holes, so they don’t clog. One type, we call it the Wobbler, spreads large drops in a circular pattern. It is best on the pasture, as it does tend to miss spots up close and also the large drops can damage newly emerging plants. The second type, we call the Spinner, provides lighter drops. Additionally, the higher the pressure, the more mist-like those drops are. Each of these are put on 3-foot risers in the garden to give the best coverage. On non-ditch days (the majority of the time) we have it set up to run off the faucet (not our first choice, but necessary).

I love these little guys. They are a time saver, give better water coverage than I can manually, are easily supplemented with a ditch-water soak, and save my back to be abused by other farm chores.


  1. Very interesting article! I didn’t know you lived right in the desert.

    I spent a summer with my uncle in Palm Desert, CA, very long ago. His house sat at the foot of the mountains to the west, looking out across the desert to more mountains on the far side. Soft, subtle hues against a background of sand and shades of blue and purple out there in the mountains before us. It took only a few days to attune my eye to its spare, subtle beauty.

    Your mention of the ditches reminded me of a book and film that I expect your have read or seen. If not, I think you’d like it. The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols. Dates from 1974. The film was done in the early ’80’s. Robert Redford directed. Really good stuff.

    • I saw that movie when I was a kid and always wanted to go read the book. It is nestled comfortably in the foothills of my TBR mountain.

      Northern NM is high desert – we are about 7200 ft elevation. We have lots of cactus, yuccas, pinon, scrub oak, and sumac.

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