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dry-climate forest garden book?

 
mark andrews
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I am new to the concept of forest gardens and need a recommendation as to what books to read.
I live in Roswell New Mexico (zone 7a), so I'll need something geared towards deserts and/or the southwest.

I'd be interested in knowing what edible perennials to plant as well as where to plant.

So what books would you recommend?
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Not about plants per se, but Brad Lancaster's books are classics for dealing with the waters of the SW
http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

A site that might give you some good insight for NM plantings:
http://www.drylandsolutions.com/dryland.php?i=4

Good source for seeds of the region:
http://www.plantsofthesouthwest.com/
 
neil bertrando
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Location: Reno, NV
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for more info and updates on plant lists check out my permaculture global site
http://www.permacultureglobal.com/users/2660-neil-bertrando

I don't know how to post a table on permies.com so check my updates there. there's a list of perennial veggies with sources


 
mark andrews
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Thanks Neil,

That is a great list and since Reno is also zone 7a it should be very helpful.

I will look forward to learning more about each one.

 
neil bertrando
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Location: Reno, NV
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if you don't get below 0 F, it is likely you can grow many more than we can. we've measured -7 F and -10 F in the past three years here and historically -22F

lots of stuff not on this list too.

lycium chinense is an edible leave wolfberry
there are good edible cholla varieties
lots more to consider beyond that

high and dry from Timber press is a book to consider

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Hi Mark:

I also recommend Brad Lancaster's excellent books on Water Harvesting. Essentially, in drylands, you need to plant water along with the trees. You didn't mention if you were on a large property or an urban/suburban property, but Brad's Vol 2 has a chart on what the best types of earthworks are for you in your situation (p. 42). For example, if you're on sloped land, swales on contour are great. If you're on flat land (like most urban lots), infiltration basins are the way to go. Planting trees right in the basins/swales as opposed to on the berm/earthmound of a swale is also a dryland adaptation. Plants that have lower water needs are planted up the sides or at the top of swales/infiltration basins (cacti and succulents, for example - although not all of these are low water). Brad also includes edible and other useful plants that are low water in the appendix of Vol 1.

Here in downtown Phoenix, my property is FLAT! And some areas are very narrow. So I've chosen infiltration basins for rain and graywater, sunken veggie beds to keep water in the bed, as well as some French drains for some narrow areas.

I also recommend finding out what your "water budget" is (how much rain and graywater you have access to) before you begin your design. I truly wish I had! It would have saved me loads of time and money.... Live and learn! (over and over and over again!). You can determine your water budget at Brad's website here: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/rainwater-harvesting-inforesources/rainwater-harvesting-online-calculator/
Please keep us updated on how things are going with this project!

Best,
Jen in Phoenix
 
mark andrews
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Thanks for the information.
I live on 2 acres of FLAT DRY land.
Some years we have had as little as 1 inch of rain, but the average is supposed to be 15.
However, it usually comes in such small amounts that the ground is dry within a few minutes.

I had just assumed I would need to water what i want to grow, but you have convinced me to do a hybrid setup.
I will drip and spray parts of what I WANT, but will work on learning more about the basin approach for things that I NEED to have.

I pay about a penny for every 10 gallons--so I'm willing to use whatever I need to get things started, but I am concentrating on perennials that will need little to no help after 3 years.

Thanks for all the advice.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I had no idea Roswell was quite that dry.

Very cool that you are thinking of doing a hybrid system. With the West running dry, I think its the only way to go - even if water is cheap (for now).

I don't know if you've checked it out yet, but Scott Pittman's site has a bunch of great articles online from "Dryland Permaculture" magazine. You can find them here: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/beekeeping (I have no idea why that url ends in "beekeeping" but it's the right page).

You can see several dryland designs here: http://permaculturedesigns.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=8. These were done by students of geoff lawton's online PDC class - there's a real variety. This was our place to post our designs and get feedback before submitting our final project.
 
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