We were hoping to put in new shrubs and fruittrees this year. We are pretty new at this. We are in NM and there is concern that we will experience an intense drought this summer. Any thoughts on putting plants in during an expected drought? ALso does anyone put a sponge underneath where they plant a tree? If so what material do you use?
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Neil Bertrando spoke at the permaculture voices conference about tree systems in the high desert, I think he is in Reno Nevada but he spoke a lot about water conservation. A swale, as noted above, would definitely be a good idea as would planting some ground cover around the tree to hold in some of the moisture. A woman in the crowd said she would dig about five feet down and fill the hole with some broken down plant material and straw, she claimed she got some good results with water that way. Someone else said that they had sunk a six foot pipe, with some holes drilled in the sides all the way up, next to the tree as they were filling up the hole and that way you can just water into the pipe and it would water far enough down for a young tree.
If you don't want to wait for the ground cover to grow you could also find some rocks and use them as mulch, will hold in the water the same way.
Hope this helps....
We have been planting a lot of trees here in Southwest Texas for the past 5 years (average about 15-18 in rainfall). During which we have been experiencing an intense drought. One method that we use and has had relative success is making a mulch basin or Zai holes. Both methods have yielded excellent results for some species we have planted including peaches, plums, apricots, vitex, live oak, red oak, and more.
If you experiment with burying wood or other organic matter under your tree remember that it will rob the tree of nutrients (especially nitrogen) for the first 2 or 3 years. You will certainly need some type of drip irrigation to mitigate for the lack of rainfall.
Check out these Deep Drip Tree Watering Stakes. Haven't used them, but it makes a lot of sense. Here is a link: http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Root-Watering-Devices-s/7848.htm Pricey, but might be worth the cost. Any moisture near the top of the soil in a harsh desert environment is transpired during the intense summer heat and wind. Thus, if you can get the water deeper from the start by all means do so.
My father use to drill a hole with the PTO driven post hole digger near a pecan seedling. He would insert a 4" PVC with holes drilled in the sides (not too big or dirt will fill in) and back fill it with dirt. He would use this to water and fertilize the trees. Back then PVC was cheap. Not so much anymore.
That's my two cents. Good luck!
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