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When to plant?

Posts: 35
Location: Southwestern New Mexico
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I have been given inconsistent advice on when to plant my new trees. I always thought mid winter was best when the trees are "asleep" but here in the Southwest desert of New Mexico (USA) I have also been told to plant a container plant early spring, but that puts them in the hardest part of our hot drought season (May and June). The first attempts were planted last February and suffered from our usual early warm period followed by a couple of freezes and did have some damage and one loss. We are watering them heavily. So far they have leaves and some new branch starts so I haven't killed them. A third suggestion has been to use our expected annual heavy rains in July and it just seems like a good time to give trees a better start. So, I want to hear your opinion(s) before I invest in trees for summer plantings.

I was only sent one cherry (no tag to define variety... yes unprofessional and not again trusted) with the top broken off so it is becoming sort of bushy. Can I plant Cherries in the wet summer? How close can they be placed? The comment that a lot more cherry trees was wished has encouraged me to think perhaps each pasture/section might host it's own pair? I should note these pastures cover no more than a quarter acre and is presently divided into 5 sections. The hens will also have occasional access to the "back yard" and the front parking area, also being planted.

I am planning to plant the guilds once the hardest weather is past so I appreciate all suggestions. The ultimate goal is a series of food forests as chicken pastures surrounding some hugle-burms for next years vegetables. Those cover crops will also go in this July.
Posts: 1288
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
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A dry spring and wet July is not a weather pattern I'm familiar with... did the person who advised you to plant in 'early spring' come from a part of the region with a wet spring and dry summer?

In our climate, for example, we average an inch of water per month (most of it as snow) between October and April, two inches in May and June, next to nothing in July - August, and sometimes the rain starts again in September. But the actual pattern varies a lot because of patchy storm systems, one area can be dry while another has flash flooding. And elevation - we get some frost and 'cloud-forest' condensation effects at elevation, which may account for more water than the actual precipitation in some winter months.
In our area, most people tend to obtain dormant fruit trees once the shipping routes are relatively frost-free, and plant them out soon even if it's slightly before the last frost to catch that May-June moisture before things dry up for the summer. Last frost is sometime in May; many people seem to plant trees in April.
Almost everyone around here with successful fruit trees seems to provide them with water somehow - either by planting near natural water features, by doing stone 'dew-traps' or swales, or the vast majority with conventional irrigation or hose-watering. How much water, for how long, is a matter of debate and choice. Some trees do survive especially in the river bottoms and banks without irrigation, but young ones are pretty vulnerable.

I would definitely consult someone who grows fruit orchards or nursery stock in your specific area, with that specific weather pattern.
While there, ask about what kind of watering schedule they consider 'normal' for establishing young trees. There might be specific soil amendments or watering nutrients that can help them establish, too.
You might be able to find some permies on here with more regionally-specific info by re-posting, or posting a link to this post, in the Southwest regional forum.

Erica W
Linda Ford
Posts: 35
Location: Southwestern New Mexico
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Thanks, Erica... I will try over there.
We get moisture from the summer storms south of us in the Gulf and Mid-Pacific from the Hurricane season. We are actually sort of over central Mexico. They call them Summer Monsoons. So they don't usually arrive until July. There is almost always a warm period in March-April but no rain and the trees are fooled into budding out. Then April or even May there will be a freeze or 2 before it actually warms up. The temps go up the end of May and June is often our hottest month, few rains. The July monsoons bring cooling temps as well as rains. My understanding is that by increasing their density and with wind breaks I can mitigate the freeze dangers, and with burms and rain capturing techniques along with root density they can become even better at drought tolerance.

I guess planting in winter dormancy period is just "standard practice" to reduce stress but they have been VERY thirsty. I will be interested in what is said in the Southwest section.
I was also hoping our guest might still be around to add his thoughts on the seasons issue. I will just have to buy his DVD and hope it covers this area too.
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