Irrigating an orchard

I’m trying to figure out an easier way to irrigate my little fruit orchard when enough rain doesn’t come along to do it. Until now, I’ve been either running hoses, using buckets, or a combination of both, but with 20 trees in 2 rows, this can get a bit time consuming. They’re a mixture of (eventually) full size and dwarf/semi-dwarf varieties. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pond or spring nearby to tap, just the water faucets from the house (100+ feet away) that are fed from the well. Water pressure is OK for household use, but not all that great.

Keeping in mind I need to not only mow grass inside the fence, and also compost and mulch each tree (creating small berms), what sort of system would you recommend? Trenched? Drip? Pop-ups? I don’t want to keep moving hoses or pipe to mow during the summer if I can avoid it.
Someone suggested putting a few of those big oscillating sprinklers on the corner posts of the fence, but at some point I would think the trees will grow too tall for that method to work, not to mention watering more than just the trees. Perhaps once everything gets well established it won’t be quite as necessary, but between now and then, there will be a LOT of water buckets in my future if I can’t figure something better out!

The easiest way is to install drip irrigation for your trees. We did that with Mom and Dad’s fruit and shelterbelt trees in New Mexico and it worked great. They actually used less water that way than when we used sprinklers and watered the trees much better. It’s best to bury the supply lines as you can mow over them. But we didn’t do that and it still worked great. It’s cheap and only took two days to hook up. And I’m no rocket scientist. It’s sort of like Tinker Toys. Do install a filter just past your faucet to catch any sediment as it will plug up the emitters that water each tree. I put two emitters on each mulched tree that only put out a fast drizzle each. That kept me and the trees real happy, only watering when the soil around the trees was dry down a few inches. You will have to check them every time you water to make sure they are still working. Dripworks has components although we got ours at a local big-box hardware. Hope this helps keep you and your trees happy. — Jackie

Wheat for chicken feed

I have never grown wheat before and wanted to try a small plot. I want to use it as chicken feed. I can’t figure out what to buy….I was going to buy on line but most of what comes up is red wheat which says it’s wheat grass? What type wheat seeds would you recommend?

Johanna Hill
Arcanum, Ohio

Any wheat will make chicken feed. They call it “wheat grass” but that’s just immature wheat plants. It’s too late this year to plant spring wheat though. So either plant a winter wheat or wait until spring to plant your feed patch. Any hard white or red wheat will do fine as chicken feed. You also might consider planting millet as you get a little higher yield per square foot with millet, such as White Proso millet, than you do wheat and chickens love it. — Jackie


  1. Belle,

    Good idea. The fodder article in the past issue of BHM gave how-to info for building a tray rack for those of you who missed it.

  2. I am growing wheat sprouts in trays in the house. 4 levels that just drain thru to a bucket underneath. The girls like it and it cost me 11 bucks for 50 lbs and when full grown( 1 wk) I get 6 times more feed. Its a good deal.
    I also give them commercial feed.

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