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New forest garden, ?'s

 
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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Cliff notes: will drip irrigation inhibit root development of newly transplanted trees?

So I finally broke down and took the leap. After being interested in permaculture finally decided to put my money where my mouth is and put some trees in. Currently have 2 sunflower pawpaws, 2 cherries (gold and red sweets), 3 apples, 3 pears, 2 plums and 3 honeyberry shrubs all in a 79 ft wide x 71 ft deep section of property. All trees are semi dwarf apart from the pears and plums which are dwarves. Outside this area I have an almond and peach tree (impulse buys). Eventual plans are to build guilds around each tree and bring in autumn olive and bush hazelnuts in spring then turn attention to cover crops (the grass has got to go lol). Possibly considering eventually mulching the entire area in wood chips but I'm weighing it against planting the entire area in wild flowers and legumes.

My basic question concerns irrigation. The area sits in the back of my lot due to narrow but deep property and keeping the trees out of the leach field of the septic system which I'll use for raised beds. It sits approximately 150-180 feet back from my water connection. Not feeling like running a hose back every time I need to water the trees I'm planning to run drip irrigation until the trees become established enough to fend for themselves. Of course the irrigation will be solely to supplement dry periods in the summer (zone 6b). My question being, will drip irrigation impair root development by keeping the roots from growing outside the irrigated zone? All that I've read concerning soil amendments on new transplants advises against for the same reason, so my thought process says water could prove the same. Thoughts?
 
pollinator
Posts: 2607
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I hadn't heard that. I don't have drip irrigation but I do run soaker hoses around them. This is my first year of having them. I transplanted some grapes over to be with my trees and the roots were far more established than I had expected. I do have them on a berm though. Good luck!
 
Posts: 1576
Location: Fennville MI
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First a question, then a thought.

Have you considered swales?

Which will inhibit root development more, drip irrigation or die off due to lack of water?

Lots of sources will tell you to go ahead and irrigate during establishment.
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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I actually did consider some as the terrain slopes LIGHTLY down and to the right (looking from the back porch) but I didn't figure it would be enough to justify earthworks. Though it may be something I consider come spring when I finish out the planting. Also plan on bringing in some soil to level the front yard which would be the perfect time while I have the equipment there.

Good point about lack of water lol. We typically have decent rainfall until about mid-late summer when I'd step in the drip irrigation the first several years until a strong root system was in place. I do eventually want to wean the trees off. Would the best way to irrigate be to install the drip close to the trunk or irrigate in a circle maybe 3 or so feet out from the tree, expanding the circle as the tree grows? I get the feeling I'm overthinking this
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1576
Location: Fennville MI
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Put in swales before the trees. Much harder to work around the trees trying to put in the swale.
It does not take much slope for swales to work, bUT you do want to figure out what your watershed is that would feed the swale.
It may not be worth doing if you have a really limited area feeding the swale.

Just my thinking.
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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Hmm, alright. Sounds like I need to research it all a bit better then. Definitely an idea I'll toss around then. No bigger than the area is I could do much of the work by hand should I decide to go forward with it.
 
pioneer
Posts: 316
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 5a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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Yeah, swales are the non-irrigation irrigation method. The idea is that you’re slowly sinking a lot of water really deeply into the soil, getting it off the surface and into long-term storage, where it’s most useful to plants. If you have to irrigate swale-planted trees, you’re in a very extreme situation.
 
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