The first season that I successfully grew a bumper crop of tomatoes, something not so pleasant also materialized: a $200 water bill.  In Phoenix, every drop of water is precious, much of it shipped to us from wetter states via an elaborate network of rivers and canals.  What I didn’t realize was how expensive that water could be and I felt the pain of it when I wrote the check.

I was fairly certain that we had not grown $200 worth of tomatoes to offset the cost of the water.  Though I enjoyed the fresh tomatoes, I wasn’t willing to go broke to grow them.  I began to ask the question, Exactly how much and how often should I water my tomatoes? I was looking for the minimum amount of water needed to grow the maximum number of tomatoes.  The answer, I discovered, is it depends.

It depends is a response that I find myself using regularly, and it originally came from my good friend Greg Peterson of UrbanFarm.org.  At the time, although delivered with much sincerity and kindness, it sounded flippant.  But as I dove into the topic more deeply, I discovered that while my query seemed simple, it was a loaded question, one that demanded more questions in order to formulate an accurate response.  Temperatures, soil types, plant varieties, humidity and, of course, rainfall, are few of the factors involved.  (Read more in Chapter Three of City Farming: A How-to Guide to Growing Crops and Raising Livestock in Urban Spaces.)


Raising Dairy Goats at Wish We Had Acres Farm

How We Got Started Raising Dairy Goats & Tips for Cold Weather Farming

Raising dairy goats in the city may sound like a strange idea.  But nothing beats fresh, sweet milk and cheese that can only come from backyard goats.  If you want to get a goat, be sure to get plenty of advice from urban dairy farmers beforehand so that you understand how to keep goats and how to get the most out of them. We had the good fortune to meet our mentor goat farmers by happy accident.  Here is how we got started raising dairy goats and some tips for keeping goats warm in winter.

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Learn to Farm at the Center for Urban Agriculture

Interview with Peter Condon of MCC Center for Urban Agriculture Where Students Learn to Farm Using Sustainable Agriculture Methods Kari:  I’m here with Peter Condon and Christee Rothbard at the Mesa Community College Center for Urban Agriculture, where students can learn to farm successfully and profitably.  We are here to […]

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Sunken Gardens Conserve Water in Phoenix


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Edible Landscaping at Longevity Gardens

Arizona Homeowner Grows Beautiful and Productive Edible Landscaping:  Interview with Jake Mace of Longevity Gardens (Phoenix, AZ) You have an amazing farm and beautiful edible landscaping.  How did you get started? I really didn’t know what I was doing, and I really made a ton of mistakes.  So basically, two […]

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Backyard Permaculture at Rodman Farm

Backyard Permacuture with Urban Farmer Heather Rodman The internet is a wonderful tool for connecting with like-minded folks.  I recently asked a question online about Tattler canning lids, and received a wonderful reply from Heather Rodman.  Her response piqued my interest in her farm.  I discovered that Heather is a […]

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Start a Farm Business: Notes from Stone Hoe Gardens

Interview with Tina and Bruce Leadbetter of Stone Hoe Gardens on the history of the farm, how they manage their dairy goats, how to start a farm business, and how farm businesses evolve.   (Kari) I’m here with Tina and Bruce of Stone Hoe Gardens in Phoenix, AZ to talk […]

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Farm Plan at Terra Rosa Fertile Farms

Interview with Susan of Terra Rosa Fertile Farms (TERFF -Cottonwood, AZ) July 10, 2015.  Susan discusses her farm plan, from permaculture design and product selection to business planning and marketing. Sue, you have a wonderful piece of property.  What is currently happening at TERFF and how you are creating your […]

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Soil Building at Sweet Life Garden & Orchard

Interview with Jill of Sweet Life Garden & Orchard (Phoenix, AZ) 2015-07-15 Jill describes how they acquired the land, its features, and how they did easy soil building using a technique called lasagna gardening.  She also tells the story of her orchard, dairy goats, and selling products to their neighbors. […]

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Rainwater Harvesting for Livestock

Watering livestock can be challenging in terms of cost as well as labor.  The photo above is our daughter filling livestock water buckets with a hose, a highly inefficient system.  Fortunately, nature offers an alternative in the form of rainwater and storm water, which can be harvested and moved via gravity […]

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Directing Storm Water

Although swales are primarily a passive water harvesting tool that is implemented in dry climates, they can also be used to reduce flooding and erosion in wet climates.   Swales direct the flow of storm water, reducing how quickly it spreads and sinking it back into the soil.  They can also […]

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