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Planting cherry (or other fruit) in 1 foot of topsoil.  RSS feed

 
Millo Magnocavallo
Posts: 3
Location: Portugal
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Hi,

First of all I'm new to this site. Much respect to Jim Wheaton for this site. Really nice effort!

As with most forum posts I always wonder if I'm reposting something that's already been posted but I coudn't find anything so if there is something that's already been posted regarding this then please point me to that and I'll take a look.

I've recently purchased land and it's quite rocky (granite). The soil is good. It's pretty much loamy / sandy soil. I am finding, however that the soil is quite shallow in alot of places. There are lots of young oak trees growing everywhere (there was a fire that wiped out what was here about 5-6 years ago I was told) and they grow especially well amongst the rocks but I don't really know how deep they are going with the roots. I mention this because I've recently started planting fruit trees. Now, with things like almonds, figs, hazelnuts and the more hardier types of trees I don't mind, but I've been trying to find a suitable place for the cherry tree, which could do with a more moist place and when I find areas that are more moist than others I usually only get about 1 foot deep before hitting rock. I'm not sure if cherry could deal with this or whether perhaps I should consider trying to build up a kind of hugelkulture mound / plateau and plant on top of that? Could that be a suitable option and would it be necessary?

Any ideas would be welcome.

Many kind regards and thanks in advance.
Millo
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 9518
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
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Your place sounds just like mine!!!

I'm still experimenting, so don't take anything I say as the final word on the matter, but I've found that the main problem with shallow soils, especially in a Mediterranean climate, is that things dry out in August and September and you really don't want any kind of raised bed as they tend to dry out faster.  Maybe try planting in the soil 'as is', but with logs buried nearby to act as a water reserve, and then mulch the whole area like crazy with whatever you can find to reduce evaporation, which seems to be the real killer.  With shallow soil it's not really possible to keep it moist as there are no deep reserves to call on, so you have to aim at reducing the amount lost any way you can. 

Where abouts are you? 
 
Millo Magnocavallo
Posts: 3
Location: Portugal
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Thanks Burra Maluca!

That makes sense to me. I think it's probably about the best I could do and worth trying. The area does seem to retain more moisture than most other areas during summer (and damn was it hot and dry this summer) so I've tried planting some bamboo close by as well, hopefully that can generate lots of mulch as well that I can then throw on around the tree. I don't think I'll have a shortage of mulch though. Lots of scrub to cut down around here yet. Thanks for your response.

I'm on the north west end of Serra de Estrelas, between two villages Carrapichana and Vila Ruiva. It's out towards Guarda.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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Welcome, I'm sure that a hugel bed would be great, but make sure you put in plenty of absorbant materials and a good mulch..I put cherries on a slope and one started to die, I realized all the water was running away from it so I built a small swale below it and filled the swale with mulch, and it is growing fine now (less than a year ago)..

you might need to do that if you build up too high a mound, put a swale and mound on the down hill side of it if water runs away from the roots of the tree too much..if it is a round mound on flat soil, try putting a small trench all the way around to hold some water and fill the trench with mulch..
 
David Miller
Posts: 286
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Brenda Groth wrote:
Welcome, I'm sure that a hugel bed would be great, but make sure you put in plenty of absorbant materials and a good mulch..I put cherries on a slope and one started to die, I realized all the water was running away from it so I built a small swale below it and filled the swale with mulch, and it is growing fine now (less than a year ago)..

you might need to do that if you build up too high a mound, put a swale and mound on the down hill side of it if water runs away from the roots of the tree too much..if it is a round mound on flat soil, try putting a small trench all the way around to hold some water and fill the trench with mulch..



I agree with your conclusion, that hugelkultur would work really well for this problem.  I've used it successfully in areas with 6inches of topsoil.  BYOS  build your own soil.  Remove the current soil for the entire drip line of the tree, put 1ft deep of logs down, 1ft deep of brush, 1 ft of leaves, then replace topsoil on top.  Plant the tree right into the mound and perhaps follow the advice to swale and mulch but I'd do that first and build the hugelkulter into the swale/berm.
 
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