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Desert Tree Establishment

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Thank you for sharing so much detail about your experience, especially the failure of the waterboxxes.
I live in a much wetter region than you do but I've killed loads of planted trees by not being able to irrigate them enough.  My current plan is to plant tree seeds in fenced enclosures and let them come up (or not) on their own with no irrigation at all.  Tree seeds are cheap compared to saplings, so I am planting them very densely and at the same time seeding with legumes and wildflowers.  Have you considered planting tree seeds in these lenses?  I think it could be quite successful.  



I don't know ... it seems there's a big input/investment with the earthwork of constructing the lenz (dished area).
I have to use a subterranean wire baskets to repel diggies (gophers), and above ground wire protection to repel munchers (rabbits, ground squirrels, etc)....
So I would think it would make more sense to plant a growing tree there then to hope a seed germinates, and wait on it growing.
....I did sow some various desert plant seeds (jojoba, creasote bush, desert grasses, etc) around the center .... seeing a few of those come up.

That said, the machine that constructs these, and myself, have been super busy at work.  Haven't started any new lenz sites!
So my saplings at the "home-nursey" are out growing their tiny containers.....so I've shifted some of those into larger pots. (1-3 gallon sized).
Plan is to grow even larger trees and plant those; if they're taller when I put them out in the desert maybe I can forgo the "Ring of Wire" protection.

But yeah, the original concept was to come up with a massive way to reforest large tracks of degraded land, and you would use saplings there with an economy of scale considerations or what ever.  



Once you get some tough support trees going, you could try more high value trees. I suggest Moringa as a support tree if it stays warm enough to not kill them in the winter.  They are perennial here (zone 8b) but die back to the ground each winter.  Super easy to grow from seed but need to be planted during warm weather.  



I did establish one.   Five others had been eaten by either gophers, or a massive insect attack.
This is what I think is Zone 9a or 9b.   Hopefully they won't freeze.
Moringa would be a high value 'nutrition' tree.  

I thought of planting Moringa and Mesquite in tandem .... perhaps the Mesquite would protect the Moringa in the winters (rate frost) or summers (excessive heat).   And the moringa would somehow scavenge some of the mesquite's nitrogen....   Seems like a good food combo.  Moringa greens are full of vitamins and minerals; mesquite beans/pods provide carbohydrates, starch, etc.

Moriangas grown so tall ...straight up vertically ... I really need to try again.
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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UPDATE:  DEC.10, 2021

Its been about 3-1/2 months since an appreciable rainfall event.   Maybe one little trace sprinkle in that time.
The last week or so, we've managed 3 small rainstorms (0.2, 0.1, 0.2 inches).
Things are still going well.   Getting cold now, hopefully the Moringa doesn't die.

Some desert plants popped: Globe Mallow, Desert Senna, and maybe a Fairy Duster.
This was from the desert re-veg mix I has sowed into center section of the Lenzes.....
Maybe more stuff will pop up in spring, but if the hard monsoon rains didn't stimulate germination in the summer,
I doubt much will pop up going forward....

A rogue Loofa grew (from one of my wife's projects) in the mulch I acquired from the house... lolz.

Video  and Ramblings here:



I have had no time to construct more WaterLenzes .... I really need to get on that.
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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Mikhail Mulbasicov
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Posts: 36
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Nice growth on all the trees. The grasshoppers and ants are stripping alot of my trees too. The rain didn't make it to me this time. It's always random. I didn't know that was senna. There's alot of that is growing on my lot
 
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shauna carr wrote:
Stone mulch works much better to keep the moisture in the ground without absorbing any, but obviously doesn't add nutrients, and a build up of debris based mulch on top of it will start to cause problems like any other thick mulch will. Also, for new plants, rock mulch makes it harder on them as it tends to raise the ambient temperature and fries the plants (I have killed SO many plants, ouch).

But...that leads me to some of the positive mulch concepts that have worked for me.  

For new plants, a thinner layer of organic mulch has done pretty well - didn't absorb too much water, and was thin enough that it broke down a bit faster.
And while rock mulch was too much for the plants, strategically places stones did well.  A stone or two near any plants, underneath where the stones are somewhat shaded and so not going to absorb as much heat from the sun and fry the plants, have been very helpful. The ground stays wet underneath them, they don't fry the plant, and when it's a few stones, but not a sold mulch of rocks, then some debris builds up between the stones naturally and you get a little organic nutrient adding mulch and a little water preserving stone mulch, and it does pretty well.  When my perennials grow larger, I may add more stones to the shaded areas, and keep things going like that.

I got the stone idea from an acquaintance who was working on a project in NM, trying to recreate some gardens they'd seen in ancient Anasazi ruins. They speculated that if gardens were planted, and then after sprouting had stones placed in between all the sprouts to keep water loss to a minimum, it would cut down on hugely on water needs. It worked great there, but it was done in a canyon, where there was a lot of shade, and here in the sonoran desert, it doesn't work as well without more protection from the sun.



Shauna, your advice is great! I’ve been researching stone (also called lithic) mulch. The Anasazi invented it in NM, but Easter Islanders and other peoples around the world did too. This article by Dale R. Lightfoot is fascinating and provides a historical look at the development of this technique worldwide. If you google his name and lithic mulch, there are a lot more articles out there.

I’m at 8000 ft in Colorado and every time I dig a hole, I end up with a pile of rock from gravel size on up. I’m starting to gather my piles and plan to set aside an area to try stone mulching. This summer is going to be one big experiment to figure out what works in this high, cold and dry land. I’ll share what I figure out!
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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jer ander wrote:There's alot of that is growing on my lot



We would just need a little bit of winter rain to keeps things going that got started during the monsoons.

I guess the word on the street is this is a La Nina winter or something, and we are NOT supposed to get that much rain at all .... and it seems its playing out that way so far sadly.

Yah, those last few small storms hit the east valley, and swooped thru pinal county to the south.  
If I can get just a 0.15 to 0.20 inches in a short time those Water Lenzes will harvest some appreciable water .... whereas the flat-land around me are powder dry again in a day.
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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1-17-2022

UPDATE:

I finally got The Machine out there again to construct about 18 or so more tree sites (WaterLenzes).



Funny, there was (only) one of the few WolfBerry bushes that set fruit.  
It was in the center of three WaterLenz edges ....  the triangle "dead spot" in a group of three circles.....
There are several others on the site that have leaved out really well, and larger, and are quite green (relatively "green" for a desert plant).
But THIS on is the only one that produced berries .... its smaller sized too.
A theory could be that its roots extend out in the wetting front of the three surrounding WaterLenzes .... and its doing "better" because of that.
(roots would have to extend out about 8 feet from the plants edge to get into some moist soil .....this is my estimation.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CY1rubiJILG/

----------------------

Here's an old picture of the first set of WaterLenzes.
It takes a while for the satellite picture to get taken .... and published.
These two rows have been extended a few trees to the north.
And then two more rows were added a few months later ....

.....with this current update (today), another pair of rows, and then another single row .... and a few scattered along the south edge.
I'm leaving a gap on the east prop line for a road/easement to access the other lots to the south.
This is basically one third of the total project area.



Here's a conceptual plan of the layout .... Since I did this drawing a year ago, I've spaced things out a bit.
Basically two intertwined / staggered rows, with a gap inbetween pairs of rows .... for ? I don't know what: equipment, harvesting, ATV, inter-crop-something-something, you tell me?



It WON'T look quite like this^.   This is just the North 1/3 and the Middle 1/3.
There's one more section/lot to the South.
The South 1/3 I think I will absolutely pack full of trees to the maximum.

The Middle 1/3, maybe I'll leave a gap/dead spot  for a home-site......
And the road that has to go along the east property line, will kind of screwup that middle lot (taking possible tree sites away)

The South 1/3? .... yeah no road to continue onward, No Homesites?
So maybe I come up with a way to completely PACK that south lot full of trees !!!
 
jer ander
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Everything is looking great. I really need to get some moringa started. Have you supplied water for them in between rains
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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jer ander wrote:Everything is looking great. I really need to get some moringa started. Have you supplied water for them in between rains



No added water....I'm thinking the rain really soaks in, down, and deep.  The middle 1/2 to 1/3 of the circle ponds up pretty good.   Within a day or less it's usually gone, unless the storm event hits in waves over the course of a couple of days.

Point is, the water isn't evaporating up in that short of time....it has to be going down....fast.

It will be interesting when I have to replace that single "casualty" I had ...the small mesquite the ants ate.   I'll dig down there to replant a new sapling, and probe down and document the moisture levels.

Funny ... I had to bring a load of water out to spray down the edges, and the general form, of the new Lenzes....the outer ring.   It's so dusty and fluffy after we're done .... I got nervous when those windy spells hit the last few days.   I was afraid the outer ring would just blow away.   So here I am, wasting a bunch of water on the non-growie part of the Lenzes....lolz.

We got 17 new  Lenzs dug and shaped this time.   Will be planting trees (saplings) soon!   I think I'm gonna forgo the groasis water boxes this round.  Just a presoak, plant, and very heavy mulch.  
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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Other ramblings:

When you dig the Lenzes out, you really see the different layers of soil and moisture form in horizontal planes as you dig down with the long reamer arm.  

With  just the auger, in the center hole, it isnt so apparent...as everything gets churned up together.

You can kind of see it the YouTube videos couple posts back...kinda like Saturn's rings.  

The moisture moves down in a flat wave, over months, the upper layers dry out due to evaporation very fast.   Winds up looking like an ice cream sandwich....light, dark,light.   Most of the trees and plants roots probably just cruise around between 12" and 30" deep.   Anything shallower than 12" gets cooked off.  There's no reason for a root (moisture seeking root) to travel deeper than 36" (but I'm sure they do at times) because there's no moisture there.  
I'm talking these super flat, almost salt pan like, areas where my project site is located.

All that said, somehow there is a mesquite tree on my property that has a 12"-16" trunk.  It's nearly flat in all directions...there are no washes nearby, not even a little drainage swale or cut or anything.   I'm trying replicate that....I think if you can establish, or nurse, a mesquite here for a few years.....it will eventually get a big enough root system to work like a cactus.   I just think most seedlings either get vaporized, or eaten in their first 3 years.
 
master steward
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I'm very impressed with the progress you have made in a short time. The trees certainly seem to be growing fast once they're in. A nice amount of undergrowth too!
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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2-24-2022.

Recieved about 0.16" of rain with the last storm.   Not much.   I tried to get out there while it was going on.

About 5 days ago, when the storm was first forecasted, I got out there, I removed the fluff dirt out from the center of the Lenzes, hoping the rainstorm would "charge" the bottom of the tree holes with water.....before I plant the new treelings.

I don't think it hit hard enough, or fast enough to put that much water down.

It works like this:
Say 0.16" .... so about 80% might be run-off-harvestable to where "free-water" actually ponds/sheets and then moves to the center ....

A Full inch is 0.083333 of a foot.
0.08333 x 0.16 x .8 run off factor =  0.0106 of a foot of rain x (11'radius ^ 2 x 3.14) x 7.48 = 30 gallons?  That's still a lot.  30 gal x 17 tree sites = 510 gallons.
That's a lot of water to bring out to a site.   The new trailer is 500, so possible sure .... but point is say I got a 1/2" rain event, would be like almost 100 gallons...soaking it to the center of each site.  And deep: the holes start off around 18" deep.

I REALLY need to get a whole array of these Lenzes dug/constructed in the back section BEFORE this next monsoon.   If just left open, and not planted, they could really charge up the ground with a lot of water before the trees go in.   If I have the trees/saplings...sure plant them and get started growing (although the summer here is brutal on a newly planted small treeling, so it make sense NOT to plant a tree in late June.  Roots won't be established and what not).   Otherwise,  I could really get a jump start on hydrating the ground /sub soil.

instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CaXitlypcSZ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link


--------------------------------

 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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4-25-2022 update:

They posted some new aerial photographs.   They are quite crisper than the last batch ....
This shows only the next two rows (2021); since this picture was taken I've put in 3 more rows (a pair, then a single row) and a few scattered trees along the southern property line.  About `17 tree sites on this last round.   You can see the recent sediment in the center of each circle from the recent rains.   Some weeds and desert marigold, etc growing in there also.   I need to definitely sow some desert reveg mix just prior to this year's monsoon.



Moranga was complete toast.   I replanted a Palo Verde in its place, the old Moranga root was completely dry and brittle.
As I dug down to about 12" in depth, I could faintly detect some moisture in the hole.
One other mesquite that was eating by ants/bugs I also replaced with a Mexican Palo Verde.
All other trees seem to be doing OK.

The new batch (the new 17), are all doing ok.  We add mulch, and then I hit with one last watering (about 10-15 gals).   This will be the last watering they will ever receive.    When I planted this new batch, I ran out of protective wire screen, but had some 6" pvc pipe and used them as impromptu tree-tubes.   Problem is they weren't very tall, maybe only 14" out of the ground when push a couple inches into the wet soil...... all three of these treelings that got the tube protection had been chewed on at the very top (tube were open).   I BELIEVE THE (one of the) TOP PROBLEM(s) FOR REVEGITATING A BARREN LANDSCAPE IS ANIMALS/PESTS.  None of these would have survived without the wire protection (or a tree tube).
This is an interesting video:  


There are a few decent sized trees (lol at "decent") on the property; the scavenge water from the surface .... there is no ponding.
It must have rained well enough for several consecutive seasons in a row to create enough continual vegetation to take the pressure off of those tree to get above gopher / jackrabbit height.

MORE ON TUBES:  I'm pretty dum: I have access to a lot of scrap 4" PVC pipe .... it just dawned me this last week to use it as protective tree tubes.
They are white on the inside, and would reflect a lot of light around inside (in the spring and fall).   I bet a 30" tall tube would defeat most rabbits and rodents.  

Also, its interesting to note the scant few existing mesquite trees around have a few catkins (flowers for beans this season).
It didn't rain much this winter, I believe this catkin-flowering is working off of last summer's rains.....and the water trapped in the nearby WaterLenez.
There is a much larger mesquite father south of where The Work has begun, it has zero catkins of yet.  
Prior to The Work, I remember being disappointed that there were no bean to seen from any of these trees, as I wanted to grow the treelings from the native/existing trees and never saw any beans to harvest.

For instance, that cluster of trees in the middle of row #3 and #4 are probably benefitting from water collecting in the nearby WaterLenzes .... (I remember hitting some finger-sized roots in when one of those were dug).

Also: saw a cool roadrunner.

I really need to make a hard push in May and June to beat the monsoon season.
I have to fence the back portion; I find time to get the machine out there to form the circles.
My son has a back injury, and his sports season has ended because of that (the prescribed rest) .... so I can't rely on him for help...lolz, figures !
Its going to get hot soon.
 
jer ander
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Nice. I was about throw away some pvc too. Ill try that
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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jer ander wrote:Nice. I was about throw away some pvc too. Ill try that



For my situation, I think the 4" PVC would work out good.  

Would just need to stake it.   Once the tree is...  I don't know 3' or 4' high ....it should slide off while the branches/stems are still wirey.    
And then I can reuse it for the next batch (stake and pipe tube).  

PVC burns from the sun, but the vertical orientation should help with that I hope.

I was thinking about cutting the top at an aggressive slant to let the winter sun (south) in more, and then the light can "bounce" around a bit on the inside (diffuse is the proper term I believe).

I have another project up in Apache County up high, where deer (and elk!) might be a problem .... that and I won't be able to continually monitor the site.
I might be able to do 5 or 6 footers there for fruit trees.....
 
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I love this project; it couldn't have any higher overlap with my permie interests.  I believe that a huge swath of our ecological problems are downstream of the simple (yet difficult) problem of establishing pioneer tree species where it is dry.  Your lens idea seems great and I appreciate all the updates you are sharing.

Have you come across this paper?

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233542652_Biomass_Production_of_Prosopis_species_Mesquite_Leucaena_and_Other_Leguminous_Trees_Grown_Under_HeatDrought_Stress

These trials were done in Brawley in 1979-1980 and they took pretty good notes.  A couple points that interested me:

- Total water supplied to the trees was ~30% of potential evaporation in the area, using a deep soak method similar to what your lenses provide
- Prosopis velutina performed quite poorly compared to many of the other mesquite species gathered from around the world, particularly Prosopis alba
- Wild variation in performance between seeds harvested from an individual ancestor
- Parkinsonia aculeata did pretty damn well for only having a single data point, and it looks like yours are doing well too
- How the hell did they get such large trees so quickly?

I keep trying out Moringa each year on the dry California coast and I keep being disappointed.  The plant itself seems to have so much promise, but I am not yet convinced they can do well in truly dry climates.  "Tropical - drought tolerant" means something very different than "Sonoran Desert tolerant", haha.

For what it's worth though, here is a family growing Moringa in Fresno, maybe they have come across a tougher cultivar or know some tricks?

https://www.kqed.org/news/11644126/small-farmers-in-fresno-hope-for-big-moringa-payoff

Lastly, the southwest has had it pretty rough, rainfall-wise, the last few years.  The success you are having is exceptional when keeping that in mind.

Cheers,
David
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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David N Black wrote:I love this project; it couldn't have any higher overlap with my permie interests.  I believe that a huge swath of our ecological problems are downstream of the simple (yet difficult) problem of establishing pioneer tree species where it is dry.  Your lens idea seems great and I appreciate all the updates you are sharing.

Have you come across this paper?

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233542652_Biomass_Production_of_Prosopis_species_Mesquite_Leucaena_and_Other_Leguminous_Trees_Grown_Under_HeatDrought_Stress

These trials were done in Brawley in 1979-1980 and they took pretty good notes.  A couple points that interested me:

- Total water supplied to the trees was ~30% of potential evaporation in the area, using a deep soak method similar to what your lenses provide
- Prosopis velutina performed quite poorly compared to many of the other mesquite species gathered from around the world, particularly Prosopis alba
- Wild variation in performance between seeds harvested from an individual ancestor
- Parkinsonia aculeata did pretty damn well for only having a single data point, and it looks like yours are doing well too
- How the hell did they get such large trees so quickly?



I'll check out the paper.  Parkinsonia gets bad rap, but it grows so quickly.  
Also, the amount of leaf litter is impressive, the stem fall (drought or cold), the long skinny stems fall out and act similarly to pine needles ....they get tangled up and stay put rather than blow around too easily.  (mulch, organic matter, etc).

Also, I tried some velvet mesquite, and they are slow growing .... some go fast, some slow.
I tried some honey mesquite in the middle of the project, they seem to grow faster.
Chilean's? from what I've seen, those the pods taste like chalk.....so not interested.   They might be too dependent on water too.

A lot of neo-naturalists in Tucson turn their noses up at the non-native varieties of mesquite (or other trees/plants) ....even Texas honey mesquite (which is not native here).   They don't want it in the desert, or in the cities/urban areas.   I think that's a big mistake.   With climate change bearing down on us, I don't think we can pick and choose ... and try to 'restore' the desert ecology to what it was historically long ago for some kind of "biodiverse-posterity-award" or something.   Things are unraveling quite fast now ..... its do or die time.   Its never going to be what it once was (cattle, mixing or transplanting species, fire, man, removal of predator's, farming, pumping of water tables, removal of native peoples, etc.).   We need to terraform the ground that can be easily done ...


I keep trying out Moringa each year on the dry California coast and I keep being disappointed.  The plant itself seems to have so much promise, but I am not yet convinced they can do well in truly dry climates.  "Tropical - drought tolerant" means something very different than "Sonoran Desert tolerant", haha.

For what it's worth though, here is a family growing Moringa in Fresno, maybe they have come across a tougher cultivar or know some tricks?

https://www.kqed.org/news/11644126/small-farmers-in-fresno-hope-for-big-moringa-payoff

Lastly, the southwest has had it pretty rough, rainfall-wise, the last few years.  The success you are having is exceptional when keeping that in mind.

Cheers,
David



Moringa ..... I think it gets too cold in the desert.   I tried those at this site two.   Bugs would destroy them at first.   One took, and quickly grew to 5' or 6' tall, then the winter got it.   Killed it all the way down to below the surface.   Even the ones at my house do good.  (regular care, water, etc)

 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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update 7-24-2022

I ramble on as I normally do....apologies!
About 2-1/2 days ago we got 0.24"....and then got hit with another 1.44"....for a total of 1.68" in a 72 hour period.
I think that 2nd storm hit all at once (in 1 to 2 hours time).

Some got washed out on the west side, those were the very first set of Water Lenz from over 1-1/2 years ago.
The plan was for these earthworks to establish trees, and once the mequites and paloverde were on their way, that they would survive and grow like other trees in the area.   So I do not know if I am going to reconstruct those particular Lenes.   Those were put in less shallow, or less pronounced .... so the berm wasn't as high.  That first set, the trees are doing really good.

The middle set, most of the trees are well on their way.  
This amount of water should last the summer into fall I'd imagine.... If the water drains in quickly enough, and the smaller trees don't drown, I anticipate to good growth period.   I pray they don't die.
Washouts can be fixed.

The most recent set .... many seedling are not visible, and therefore considered fatalities.
I think I planted them too soon .... 'too soon' as in the seedling were too small and fragile, and 'too soon' in the summer, to where they'd be exposed to the brutal heat and dry month of June before the rains came.   Doesn't matter, in a week the ground should be firm enough to replant some I have at the house.  I think I will try the Parkinsona where the ants keep eating the other seedlings (mesquite) down to stems....  The water lenes should be thoroughly 'charged' with water.

22' dia circle x 1/8 of a foot of rain = 355 gallons of rain.   Put it this way, when I initially planted the third wave (17 tree sites), I used 500 gallon out of water trailer to presoak and plant and soak in that set of trees.   355x17 = about 6000 gallons are soaking in right now.




Also, google update the aerials again.
North is up.
The west two rows were the first set/wave.
That's were several were washed out.

The next two rows (tight pair in the middle), were the next set.
I think most all the treelings are still there, and doing fine.
Maybe one lens got washed out...easy to repair with a shovel.

The eastern 3 rows are the latest set, the lenes were dug/formed in the early spring,
and planted late spring, early summer.   Many of the seedlings were dead.
They hung on for a couple of months, as I visited a while ago ...  stems were still green and pliable, leaves eaten off (or fell off due to heat shock).
I thought they would return once the rains came, but appear some have completely vaporized because I don't even see the stem poking up thru the water here.  Oh well, ground should be plenty moist enough to replant.



Also note, the eastern 3 rows ..... at the time of the pic, the lenes were dug, but not backfilled.   You can see the open hole in the center (sunlight, making it to the hole's bottom).   I was really hoping to catch a storm at this phase, as the really charge a bunch of water deep into the soil.  Before planting.
If you can get the water down deep, it will stay in that clay for a long time (maybe pseudo-forever).

I have thought to come with a different drilling tool, that would yield a much narrower, but deeper pilot hole in the center of each site .... and leave them open for a considerable length of time to let the ground REALLY get charged up with water.   Idea to get a deep root system to hide from the dry surface.
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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8-5-2022  Fri

I just now got around to re-assess the site since the big storms from the week of 7-24.   It had rained a couple of times in between and I figure it would still be muddy and/or flooded....I saw no point in going out there.

I think I planted 17 trees on this last 'wave.   I need to replant 10.  
All of the 1st and 2nd wave trees are doing great.
All kinds of weeds, etc. have sprouted and grown.

There are still just a couple of lenzes with ponded water (we got 0.24" just 24 hrs prior to my visit)....I will have to wait a couple of days for it to dry out further to be able to stand there, let alone dig.  Maybe 5 days actually.
 
Mikhail Mulbasicov
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7-26-2023 UPDATE


I've kind of abandoned the project for almost a year.
The trees have grown....some in the first block are 7' to 8' high ! ....this is with no added/offsite water.
I believe the #1 problem in some of the areas, is just getting the tree high enough off the ground to
where they are not prematurely destroyed by wild life eating them ... ants, ground squirrels, rabbits, birds (quail), etc.


The latest block of waterlenz didn't do so well, many treelings died

Still happy with the progress.  Our summer rains just started.

Sorry for the shaky video


 
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nice thread, have only scanned it but will go back and watch more of the vids.

the lenses seem like a good idea however one drawback is you've ended up with huge spaces between the trees. not sure you need to change the lenses but maybe plant the very hardiest trees higher up the crater. you want 3 or 4 trees or bushes per sq yard so they can shade the ground and invade the soil with biomass. you can have favourites and cull extra as the favourites grow. you want your trees to touch at the edge of the canopy from the outset.

moringa isn't partuclarly drought tolerant as a sapling. once it's a year or two old it stores water in a thick taproot. mesquite is a good choice. can you plant yucca, prickly pear and agave too, these are the ultimate drought survivors.

try fig trees. like moringa they need water for their first year but once man high they are expert at finding deep water.

what you're doing seems to be working, particularly the attitude of trying a methodology, observing and adjusting. i think you are near the point where the success will snowball.
 
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man, I google the f$%k out of this stuff many years back (mid 2010's).    Trying to find examples of boomerang swales and/or similar scheme was hard.....other than theoretical drawings in permaculture manuals.

Here are some boomerang swales !!!
(but this video sucks, it really does)



I found another real life example

location is here:

N 13.412110°
E   7.289792°

If you play around with the 'clock' on google earth, the boomerang construction started around 2016....

IMO, the boomeranges are a little too close, they need to be spaced out farther, with longer "arms" to collect more water per unit.


 
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It has been aw3some to watch this so far!
It seems like even of the ones that suffered blowouts at least a few just blew into the next catch basin, which is a happy coincidence id say!
Lots of secondary herbaceous species showing up to provide living mulch and build organic matter, hardto feel motivated in a desert but i think youve accomplished a significant change!
Don't give up!
 
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