We joined a CSA—

No it is not the Confederate States of America

While I was at the Texas State Fair I asked about

Organic Farmer’s Markets while visiting the Texas

A&M booth. While the information I got was not

very precise, it was sufficient for me to find

Marie and Eden’s Organic Garden Center.


Marie started her small organic farm and is working to

make a place where people can purchase organic

produce and as a center for other local farmers to

sell their organic products.


Our first meeting on a hot Texas morning—


I ventured out one Saturday and found Marie hard at work in the fields with a group of volunteers and workers. Marie had lots of rows of small plants that looked like they were in need of water. She had installed an irrigation system that required a gravity feed water supply and a catchment system to operate.


Marie went on to say she wanted to install a renewable energy system that would run a water pump to move water from the pond as the catchment system had not been completed. For the present she was hand watering her garden. As build an RE system is not a difficult project, I said I would help and thus began a delightful relationship between a geek and a farmer.





The power source for the first configuration used solar panels. The solar panels are mounted on a 6 ft high platform originally set up to hold the water barrels. However, as that system is not yet complete we used them for the solar system. When the barrels are finally installed the solar system will go on a top platform. The black plastic battery box is directly under the panels.

The second pump was a marine grade unit from Jabsco. It worked the first day and solved all of the problems we had encountered with the inexpensive unit.  I installed a check valve and an inlet filter. Unfortunately we got a good bit of rain so the level in the pond went up and we could not use the inlet filter. In the next configuration we will install a better filter system.

Text Box: Once the pump was running the irrigation system started to work . Unfortunately the pump did not last for more then about two hours before it failed. However, we knew that the system design was sound,  but we just needed a better pump.

Before the pump failed we could see that the irrigation system would work. Once the pump issues are sorted out, I will install a wind turbine to augment the solar system. The solar system does a nice job of keeping the batteries charged on sunny days but it is clear that if we operate a pump for several hours on a cloudy day, we will need to augment the charging current with a wind turbine.



Text Box: First pump installation

The water pressure is now improved and the blue distribution hose for the irrigation system is completely full. What was found after replacing the failed first pump was that the inlet hose had a hole in it that allowed the pump to run dry and burn up. In addition the hose from the pond to the pressure regulator had a bad flange on the outlet side which allowed air in the system . When those were corrected and the pump was replaced with a larger one, the system worked just fine.



Inlet  Screen

Check valve

Pressure regulator

The first part of the RE system was to install a set of solar panels and expand from there with a wind turbine to charge batteries that would run a pump. The plan was to expand the system with an intelligent controller, a smart battery monitor and a configuration that would make Maries life easier.


Her first effort at watering from the pond used a garden tractor battery to run a spray pump, The battery soon failed because it was designed to start a tractor and not run a pump. The pump failed because it was not designed to lift water the required six feet and pull it 15 yards from the pond to the garden.


While the first replacement pump that was used also failed, the use of real deep cycle AGM solar batteries solved the power problem. As noted below, the pump problem was also solved with a marine grade pump.

The initial calculations for the battery system show that we can run the pump for six hours before we need to recharge the batteries (20% discharge rate). As the watering cycle is based on the amount of rain received, it looks like the irrigation system can be run every other day from the solar system alone. However, if a few days are cloudy, then there is not enough power to run the pump. Therefore, a hybrid system that incorporates a wind turbine is necessary to augment  the battery charging requirements.

Herb & Barbara our interests and family