In Southern California at that altitude (a very similar climate), they grow apples and stone fruits (cherries, plums, peaches, etc.). Almonds and pistachios are also good if you are worried about the climate being too dry. Almost any tree that goes dormant in the winter and has some chill requirement is worth a try. The only thing you would have difficulty with would be things that are not deciduous, like citrus, avocados, and tamarind, but you could probably even have those if the walls of your garden are south facing and you can add some covering or extra protection in the winter.
Loquat is a non-deciduous tree that does well in zone 9. It will tolerate winter temperatures down in the teens, but the flowers and fruit set can be damaged by temperatures below 25F. One thing that is nice about loquat is that it blooms in early winter and the fruits ripen in March and April, when nothing else is yielding.
If your area has been deforested, it may be worth starting a bunch of oak trees this fall and planting them wherever they are needed. Oaks are hosts for many types of mycorrhizae, which improve the soil and the acorns support many species of wildlife. There is a group at the University of Valladolid that has coined the term "oasification" as the opposite of desertification and they are working to restore the oak forests in Spain. Most of them are also pretty proficient in English and you could ask them for resources.
I was born in Portugal and I am familiar with hot dry long summers. Also with cold winters since I now live in Iceland.
You can try to reforest the place with honeylocust, siberian pea, some hardy mesquite, as nitrogen fixing trees. Also try figs and chestnuts, and almonds should grow quite easily. Promegranates are another species that should be well adapted.I think carob and olives would die in winter, but just at what grows around.
And most soft fruit should work good. Plant resistant varieties.
Many hardy perennials will work fine if sheltered and in moist spots.
Annuals: grow grains like millet, quinoa or amaranth, certain legumes like cowpeas, etc... its already a good beginning to try all these
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
Your best resource outside of the forum, will be locals who are successful gardeners. You may need to bring along an interpreter. People like to show off their growing skills. Much of what you see will be visual. Hand gesturing and head bobbing can work in a pinch.
posted 7 years ago
Thanks for all the helpful replies guys.
Around here there is a massive monoculture of olives. I have also seen almonds, figs, pomegranates, cherries and other stoned fruits going so I will give them a go. And I will check out some of the plants you recommend that I have not heard of.
Is the best plan for low maintenance/high yield to go for some kind of forest garden then?
Water does not seem to be too much of a problem here. It comes out of mountain springs. Most of the locals use drip irrigation on their veg patches. I have a tap in the garden so I guess I should just do the same?
I see a few mention of zones eg Zone 5, Zone 9 - what are these zones? Am I zone 9?
posted 7 years ago
Climate zones are an American thing. They go by the lowest temperature (Fahrenheit, of course) of the winter: no lower than 32 = zone 10; no lower than 20F = zone 9; no lower than 10F = zone 8. I'm guessing you get many frosty nights in the winter, but nothing real cold where the temps are below 20F. Olives are known to suffer damage if the winter temps get below 15F, so that is another clue to your climate zone.
A forest garden is one of the ideals of permaculture, trees that only require a little annual maintenance and yield year after year. Another tree that might be of interest is the chestnut. The island of Corsica is famous for its chestnuts, and it sounds like you might be in a fairly similar climate zone.
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