gift
Rocket Mass Heater Plans: Annex 6" L-shaped Bench by Ernie and Erica
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Leigh Tate
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • paul wheaton
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Jay Angler
  • Beau Davidson
gardeners:
  • Jordan Holland
  • thomas rubino
  • Nancy Reading

Xeriscape Fruit Trees?

 
Posts: 7
Location: Modena, UT (5500')
trees wood heat greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone, long time lurker and first time poster!

I recently bought land in southern Utah near Cedar City (many of you can already guess exactly where this is lol). The local climate is considered cold semi-arid (high desert, sagebrush steppe), annual rainfall is usually 10 inches, though it can vary between ~5 and ~20 inches. There aren't any water rights included, so I'm completely reliant on trailered in water and rainfall. The plan is to eventually have a small irrigated orchard of some cherries or other fruits that I cannot grow too well here in the low desert.

In the meantime, I'd like to plant some fruit producing trees/shrubs that wouldn't mind going awhile without some water (maybe a couple months if I find myself very busy). Does anyone have any ideas on what would potentially be a good fit? The plants would be well-mulched and in a large basin. So far my ideas are mulberry (common in the area), chokecherry, utah serviceberry, and I believe I've read somewhere that nanking cherry does well with low water? I'm also gonna assume that I should grow seedling plants for extra drought tolerance from a taproot.

Some additional considerations:
- This is in zone 6, 5400'
- Bonus points for alkaline tolerance

I know this is a bit of a longshot, but I can't help but think that someone has done this sort of thing before, at least accidentally
 
pollinator
Posts: 1129
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
317
2
hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like a challenging situation. Are medium to large earthworks an option? I know roof catchment is technically illegal in many western states with archaic water rights laws, but often localities and state governments have openly said they will look the other way for small, responsible exceptions that aren’t interfering with fish passage or risking a flood if they fail. Some would argue catching rainfall and snowmelt to foster life and self sufficiency is a form of nonviolent protest. Best of luck.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3544
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
474
2
forest garden solar
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Grows seeds, don't buy $2 seedling and then transplant them.

There are trees that grow in the desert/middle-east, like dates(but you are too cold), apricots, almonds, filbert/hazelnut, mulberry, figs(Chicargo hardy cultivar), pistachios(i think from a university in utah, that one green world now sells), jujube. There are other trees that grow in sand dunes like beach plums, sand cherry, seaberry (and autumn olive too). There is also
gooseberry/jostaberry/currants and walnut too. I would give a few of the caneberries a try (wineberry/blackberry/raspberry/etc)
 
John Witherell
Posts: 7
Location: Modena, UT (5500')
trees wood heat greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They recently made rooftop collection permitted as long as your storage tank is under 200 gallons. Of course I don't think that anyone with a setup will actually follow that lol, but I can't do rooftop catchment atm because I have no roof to do so. I'm not entirely familiar with Utah's laws on things like earthworks, but I'd be inclined to think that they don't care; this area is in the middle of nowhere and people live "illegally" in RVs around there with little interference. Do you have any good resources on earthworks?
 
John Witherell
Posts: 7
Location: Modena, UT (5500')
trees wood heat greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

S Bengi wrote:Grows seeds, don't buy $2 seedling and then transplant them.

There are trees that grow in the desert/middle-east, like dates(but you are too cold), apricots, almonds, filbert/hazelnut, mulberry, figs(Chicargo hardy cultivar), pistachios(i think from a university in utah, that one green world now sells), jujube. There are other trees that grow in sand dunes like beach plums, sand cherry, seaberry (and autumn olive too). There is also
gooseberry/jostaberry/currants and walnut too. I would give a few of the caneberries a try (wineberry/blackberry/raspberry/etc)



I seem to remember manchurian apricot mentioned somewhere else for drought tolerance now that I think about it. I'll look into some caneberries too, thanks for the suggestions
 
pollinator
Posts: 352
Location: Missoula, MT
135
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's some pretty good info applicable to your situation, Bill mentions acacia, mesquite, locust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnQZ-iGqEZg
 
Posts: 44
Location: Western Colorado, Zone 5b-ish
10
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You've gotten some good comments already. I'd add that I've experienced nanking cherry doing well in bad soil with poor irrigation and heavy deer browsing. I'm a big fan. Otherwise I'd only caution that Utah serviceberry, at least the wild populations I see, often produces icky, dry, unpleasant fruits.
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 1129
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
317
2
hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For rainwater catchment ideas I’d look into Brad Lancaster’s work:
https://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

I’d also go back to Mollison’s foundational work in the Designer’s Manual as well as his other work (Permaculture 1 and 2).

Mollison drew heavily from P.A. Yeomans’ work on keyline design:
https://www.academia.edu/26823321/Yeomans_Keyline_design_for_sustainable_soil_water_agroecosystem_and_biodiversity_conservation_a_personal_social_ecology_analysis

Geoff Lawton, Mollison’s protege, also has done some great work in dry lands:
https://www.greeningthedesertproject.org/videos/

Other good names to look up:
Sepp Holzer
Zack Weiss
Bill Zeedyk

 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 3544
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
474
2
forest garden solar
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In terms of water you might be able to double or triple your rainfall amount. if you had a 10,000sqft roof/catchment area you could funnel it to a 10,000sqft garden/orchard. thus double the amount of rain fall it gets.

But I can hear you saying where will I get an acre+ roof from. Thats were swales on contour comes in. if you were to extend a 5000ft swale/gutter on contour across your slope, even off your property. and funnel all the 'flash flood" water during a rain event to your orchard/front yard, you would be creating a monster. it wouldn't just be 10inch of rain but 10ft of rain, washing away everything or creating a seasonal pond/creek.
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 1129
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
317
2
hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A couple key water catchment points that seem like the may apply:

- Any hardscape, whether a roof, road or rock, can be used for water catchment.

- Sand dunes can hold and filter immense amounts of water if we can absorb the runoff, which deep tree roots do well. Of course dunes shift so plan accordingly

- for that flooded swale concern that S Bengi mentioned, level sills for spreading and pacifying runoff will be key. This is basically the lowest high point in your berm or wall where any excess flood water can run off with minimal force over a wide and flat hardscape, thick grasses, or forest
 
pollinator
Posts: 554
Location: Málaga, Spain
182
home care personal care forest garden urban food preservation cooking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This topic is what torments my sleep!

First look at how it rains in your location. How much water per season, how many months without any water. Then look at the plant you want to grow: does it like the climate? If it needs more water, there are a few techniques: macro-catchment, micro-catchment, drip irrigation. If there's enough rainfall but it doesn't stay for long, then you have to look where and why does that moist go away. Is it heat? Is it wind? Is the soil in really bad shape? The good will advice here is to mulch your soil, but hey, you can't grow anything yet, so how are you supposed to mulch it? When your soil is too bad, you can only work with dirt, stones, or import soil and compost.

So, what I am doing now is working with whatever grows already well here, digging deep beds, and using the organic matter to improve the soil, to form green barriers agains winds, to keep shade in summer. Once I've managed to achieve something that looks like a functional ecosystem, I will try to grow more edible things.
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 3544
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
474
2
forest garden solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Something that works really well include a legume into the planting hole with your fruit tree. It provides nitrogen, biomass and shade.
 
Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Seuss. Tiny ad:
Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heaters (8-Movie Set) by Paul Wheaton
https://permies.com/wiki/134176/Wood-Heat-DIY-Rocket-Mass
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic