Help with watering

I live in a basically high desert community of 3500' elevation. We get our ag water for $100 a year. I have a sprinkler system, but the garden is off one station, the rest go to trees and the yard. I can't really program a lot of separate times on these timers, so I think that my garden perhaps gets watered more than it should.
I am not a morning person. Nor am I heat tolerant. So, sometimes my garden gets neglected. I know that a big key of gardening is frequent checking to catch things before they get bad.
What are some insights into basic watering? Spray, or ditch? Top water? Water just those that need it with a hose? Let it get dry between watering? What is the trick?
Steve sw utah, 5a zone
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On 11/26/2013 1:58 PM, SteveB wrote:

If your climate is somewhat arid, see my "Gardening During a Drought" at <http://www.rossde.com/garden/drought.html . Where I live, it's almost permanent drought.
If you are serius about gardening in the U.S. in or west of the Rocky Mountains, invest in a copy of Sunset's "Western Garden Book". Unlike the US Department of Agriculture, which only considers winter low temperatures, Sunset's climate zones take into account summer high temperatures, persistent cloud cover, prevailing winds, humidity, lengths of growing seasons, and other factors. For south-western Utah, Sunset indicates three different climate zones, with a significant difference between Cedar City and St. George.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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On 11/26/2013 4:06 PM, David E. Ross wrote:

I have it around here somewhere.
For south-western Utah,

Which is precisely where I live. At Star Nursery, they have signs on the rows saying where the plants will grow, and CC is very different than SG. Went to CC today, and it was 41, snow on the ground. Nearly 60 in SG.
Steve
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SteveB wrote:

In general there is no best way. You need to adapt to your limits and objectives. If your water is expensive or very limited or you just want to conserve it use drip irrigation. Flood and spray irrigation both lose much water to evaporation and to flowing places that don't need it. But installing a dripper system takes time and money. I would think that in sandy soil flood irrigation would be woefully inefficient under any circumstances. Using a hose is quite efficient but very time consuming. It depends on the area to be watered, 100sq metres (1000sq ft) would be fine, 1 hectare (2 1/2 acres) and you would be there in the heat all day.
I suggest putting effort into both improving the water holding capacity of the soil and heavy mulch would both be important as these will save water overall and the number of times you have to water.
Also grouping your plants according to water need is important, this will allow you to set a schedule of watering that suits the group and not over or under watering a mixed bag.
Also schedule fewer deeper waterings rather than many shallow ones, this will encourage the plants to develop deeper root systems which will support them in dry conditions better.
If you cannot water in the morning then water in the late afternoon or even at night, watering in hot dry conditions in the heat of the day will lose much to evaporation. Fungus is not likely to be a problem with night watering and drippers don't wet the folliage anyway like overhead watering.
D
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On Tuesday, November 26, 2013 3:49:01 PM UTC-8, David Hare-Scott wrote:

!!!! What are you complaining about ???!! Count your blessing! I pay nearly that much per MONTH, including charge for sewers. (So Calif coastal). Am considering giving up growing vegs; too damn expensive.
HB
[...]
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On 11/27/2013 2:00 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

I pay an average of $143.71 per MONTH for water. That is just slightly less than the combined monthly average cost of gas, electricity, and phone. The water is used by a household of only two people: my wife and me. Our landscaped area plus the footprint of our house plus paved areas total less than 0.2 acre (about 800 m2). No swimming pool or fountains.
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On 11/27/2013 3:40 PM, David E. Ross wrote:

Oh! My water bill does NOT include sewage fees. Sewage is added as a service charge to my property tax bill: $501.60 per year. As a service charge, this is unrelated to the assessed value; every single-family house pays the same. This arrangement is because the water service covers only a small part of the sanitation district; the rest of the district receives water from other agencies unrelated to sewage.
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On 11/27/2013 3:00 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

I pay nearly that much per MONTH, including charge for sewers. (So Calif coastal).
Am considering giving up growing vegs; too damn expensive.

I wasn't complaining. But then, I looked at my bill. The bandits upped it to $32 a quarter! Can you believe it?
Steve
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Higgs Boson wrote:

there is so much more to gardening in an arid climate that can help keep water use down.
plant wind breaks to help reduce evaporative losses.
use deep mulches.
amend sandy soils with clay and organic materials to help keep the moisture in place instead of running through.
catch any heavy rains that produce runoff so that it can soak in (swales, diversions, rock walls, erosion strips and gullies).
use drip irrigation.
plant hardy species (not miniaturized fruit trees) noted for being able to withstand the climate, a few hours of dappled shade in the midday can be important if the weather gets really hot. fruit trees like dates and figs are two i would plant in almost any dry climate with enough sunshine and heat.
just a few things that come to mind...
songbird
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On Wednesday, November 27, 2013 8:49:20 PM UTC-8, songbird wrote:

Rain? RAIN? Did I hear you mention RAIN?! Whazzat?
HB
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songbird wrote:

Figs need a gooly quantity of water and don't do well in cold climes, certainly not the higher elevations in Utah. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/vegetables/tree_fruits_nuts/hgic1353.html Dates require their feet flooded. http://www.dateland.com/Tutorial.html
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Figs can grow and produce a good crop of figs without much water and where the winter temperatures drop to -9C.
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What's the knock on the hardiness of miniature fruit trees?

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Billy wrote:

...

every book on fruit trees i've read recently has noted that dwarfed fruit trees are not that hardy when it comes to the root stock because it is the roots which limit the size of the tree. so the root system will not be that hardy as compared to what a natural tree might accomplish.

and my reply was aimed more at Higgs in southern CA, and not SteveB in Idaho (who has a much harder winter climate) (re: figs and dates).
songbird
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On Friday, November 29, 2013 3:26:41 PM UTC-8, songbird wrote:

HB

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Agreed, it won't go as deep.
My thought about dappled shade during mid-day was to use an espalier of a miniature fruit tree(s), and then plant close to it. This would assure mid-day shade from a desert sun for veggies, and water for the fruit trees.

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Higgs Boson wrote:

Water for agriculture is not the same as domestic water, they are not comparable at all. In my case I pay a couple of hundred dollars a year for up to 26 megalitres (about 7 million gallons US). However I have to pump it out of the river and reticulate it which isn't cheap. This water is not filtered or treated in any way, unlike tap water if the river stops running there is nobody to complain to and it has nothing to do with sewers or other services.
D
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On 11/27/2013 10:09 PM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

In the southern half of California, the only differences between agricultural water and domestic water are:
* Agricultural water is not filtered; domestic water is.
* Agricultural water is not disinfected; domestic water is.
* Theoretically, agricultural water can be cut off in a drought, which is a significant justification for a lower cost than non-interruptable domestic water. Practically, agricultural water has never been cut off, even during the worst droughts.
The significant similarity between agricultural water and domestic water in southern Calfironia is that they both come out of the same aqueducts, fed from the same reservoirs, supplied from the same snow-melt.
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On Wednesday, November 27, 2013 11:27:06 PM UTC-8, David E. Ross wrote:

HB
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It's all good, but with water shortages either present or expected, I'd start prepping for a drip system, and use at least 2" - 3" (50mm - 75mm) of mulch. A few trees wouldn't hurt either.
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