May 19, 2013

Orchard in the Making

With more water, we are starting to plan out a new orchard area.

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As things stand right now, we have 3 apricot trees, 1 plum, 3 peaches and 1 cherry, all of which are doing great and producing some fruit. We had some bare-root apple trees that never made it (not enough water probably, and some were too close to Junipers and couldn’t take it). These trees are in the circle drives and in the garden area.

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This year we installed a pipe at the base of each tree. It goes into the ground about 18″ and has holes drilled in it all the way down. We pour water into these pipes, so that the roots get wet and evaporation is minimized. We have been super impressed by how wet the ground stays, and by how much less water is needed. We will be doing this from here on out with all our trees.


So, that’s what we have already. However, with our new surplus in water, we are planning an orchard area. It will eventually include 4 rows of about 9 trees and their guilds. There will be canopy trees, nitrogen fixers, smaller trees, and each will have shrubs and ground cover and vines that are compatible with it. And each one will produce food for us or our animals. This form of orchard is called “forest gardening” and we are super excited about getting it going.

We have marked out the first two rows of tree spots with lengths of rebar. We used a water level to make each spot on the same contour (with a couple of inches drop every 10 feet). Now we need to start building an area around each spot that will have pipes buried in it for watering, good soil and rotting wood for long term water retention and fecundity. Hopefully we will be able to get a few done soon to be able to plant some trees this rain season, but right now we are super busy so who knows what we’ll be able to get to.


We did take cuttings off our current trees, which we have in rooting hormone. Maybe some of them will be ready to plant later this year, or at least next year.

The orchard will include the following (and all their guild plants of course): Honey Locust, Mesquite, Pistachio, Mulberry, Cherry, Persimmon, Plum, Almond, Peach, Apricot, and then Fig, Loquat, Berries, Kiwi and Grapes for a wind protection around the edge. It’ll take decades to see it all how it already exists in our imagination, but that’s the deal with trees.

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