we're growing fruittrees, mostly apples, some pears and plums, on semidwarf and seedling rootstocks. It's a dry-ish area. Zone 6, continental climate (NE Slovenia, Europe, at the edge of the Pannonian basin), full sun, quite flat land. 2 to 4 weeks of drought during the summer. Temperature range -20 C / +35 C.
I was thinking of digging some miniature ponds, maybe 6 x 6 x 2-3 feet, between the trees. Their purpose would be to serve as water collectors (the dug-out soil would be placed in a bladder shape around three sides of every pond), to promote wildlife and to be enjoyed by domestic ducks eventually when we get there. Also, maybe they would buffer the temperature extremes a bit.
The ponds would be mostly encircled by 3-6 ft bushes planted to slow down the wind, create a bit of shade and, again, attract wildlife.
My main worry is that the evaporation from the ponds would raise general humidity in the orchard which sounds good until I think of fungal infections of the fruit trees.
Is this a sensible thing to worry about or am I being too careful?
Each fungus is a species in its own right, with a lifecycle. Moisture alone might not be the trigger. I'd research your local fungal diseases. Apple scab reinfects from leaves. Anthracnose overwinters in bark. Varietal selection and how you approach pruning may be more important than you ponds. Sorry, nothing decisive.
Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
Thanks for your reply, Paul.
Having done some more reading I think I'll dig infiltration basins instead - ie. non-permanent collection areas.
And plant them with swamp iris which tends to grow in ditches around here.
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