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Help in figuring out where to plant some trees  RSS feed

 
shauna carr
Posts: 84
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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I could really use some help! There was a deal on some fruit trees I was interested in lately, and some of them are no longer going to be sold, so I took a leap and bought them, but before I had a definite place in mind where to plant them! Now, I'm trying to figure it out so I can get them into the ground ASAP. I'd appreciate advice from wiser and more experienced folks than I!

I've got a texas persimmon, a quince, and a guava. The quince and guava are a lot more water heavy than I'd like, but I actually have them for health purposes (guava leaf tea contains a component that helps me with a rare disorder, but the leaves one can buy have a preservative I react to, for example). I really want to make these guys work!


So here's my questions:

What do you think about when planting your trees? I am just feeling really brain dead right now. I'm thinking of where they shade, and trying to think of water convenience (looking at how close to the planned water cisterns my quince would be, for example, or planting it as the second tree in a series of basins the rain gutter flows into). Some of it I'm trying to plan what legume trees/plants to put there (the last statistic I heard was about 75% of the plants should be support plants, out here, for a food forest type of deal). What else do YOU think of? What purposes do you like to have for your fruit trees?

infiltration basins for a tree - how far from the house, or a wall, should they be? Any recommended distances between a tree and the house? I have a spot that would be very near a water cistern but also right near the house and I worry it may be too close.

What is the warmest place to put the guava? South facing wall? I don't have any west facing walls available. And my best south facing wall is completely exposed with no other trees around it anywhere. I wonder if that's more likely to get cold in the winter than an area with more wind breaks and tress around? If it came down to 'closer to water' and 'south facing wall,' which do you think would be more important in the long run for a tree that I need to keep warm in the winter, but need to water more than many trees in the yard?

Are there any natural ways to help make a warmer environment for a tree that needs it? I thought I remembered Holzer doing something for his citrus trees, but cannot for the life of me find information on it. And for keeping trees warm - is there any good set up for a tree that would keep them warmer in the winter, but not too hot in the summer? I would love to plant on a south facing wall, but the few times I've attempted to plant anything next to south facing wall, they fried but good. Watering didn't matter, it was just too hot. Perhaps temporary shade until the tree gets big enough to make its own?

Growing trees closer together than normal - anyone heard of this working at all in the desert? I know out here it sometimes helps for gardening, as the plants grow together more and form a sort of cooler microclimate together underneath them. Didn't know if anyone has tried this with trees at all, though.

What do you like to use 'bushy' trees for, like pomegranates and texas persimmon? Wildlife habitat, shade for understory plants, other? Just trying to make sure I think of the factors I can get from my bushy tree before I plant it, you know?


Also, a quick run down of the property, in case it helps with some of the questions:
Where I live, I get 12 inches of rain a year, heat can go as high as 117 F in the summers and the lowest it gets is around 17-20 F in the winter, VERY hard alkaline soil with little carbon material and low nitrogen (there are no worms in this dirt; it's too hard), two monsoons (summer and winter) with little water in between, high evaporation rate (humidity is down around 10% in dry times, but can get up to around 70% during monsoons).

I have 1/2 an acre, land all sloping one direction, at 3500 ft. We get high winds in the spring, enough to snap awning poles. I have a pool turned into a pond in the middle of the back yard (to help local wildlife and to grow food and fish, potentially) with dirt starting about 3 feet from the edges that I hope to grow trees in eventually for more shade.


Thanks, any help would be appreciated! I wish I wasn't so scattered right now, but I can simply cop to that and swallow my pride so I can get these trees taken care of on time!
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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Giving advice about where to place things is a lot easier with pictures of the site. You can get an aerial picture off of Google Maps, satellite view.

I'm a visual person, myself. Also, it might awaken your brian, too, to try organizing things visually.

While waiting on visuals, here are my suggestions from what I can put together of your situation:

shauna carr wrote:
What do you think about when planting your trees? Some of it I'm trying to plan what legume trees/plants to put there (the last statistic I heard was about 75% of the plants should be support plants, out here, for a food forest type of deal). What else do YOU think of? What purposes do you like to have for your fruit trees?


From what I can tell by reading this, it sounds like you have a lot of good ideas and are starting to create a vision for your site. This is good! Though, I am getting the feeling that your observations and plans may not have yet been organized. If so, it may be of great utility to start organizing this information, so that it is easier for you and others to access and act upon.

I'm not sure where you got the 75% of plants should be support plants from. That does sound about right for the beginning, but over time, the needs of your land will change and you can start phasing in different species that may be of more tasty. Also, support species function in multiple ways. They are not just one thing, just like you are not the same thing to everyone in the world. For example, look at mullein and comfrey and how many uses they have. Both of these plants would be considered support species in a way.

shauna carr wrote:
infiltration basins for a tree - how far from the house, or a wall, should they be? Any recommended distances between a tree and the house? I have a spot that would be very near a water cistern but also right near the house and I worry it may be too close.

The risk that infiltration basins pose to a home depends on how much risk subsidence can pose in your area. Since you are in a desert area, the main risk I think you might face is a wildfire when ti gets dry. FireWise has a good article discussing the defensible zones of a home. They recommend only low-lying plants for 30 feet around the home. I live in an unincorporated area of Greater Greater Houston, TX that used to be rice fields, but with all the concrete and the heat island effect, it is starting to feel like a desert.

shauna carr wrote:
What is the warmest place to put the guava? South facing wall?

Yes, the south facing wall is perfect! You can remove the need for a wall by using rock mulch. The stones store heat during the day and release it back during the night. This moderates the temperature and behaves similar to an air well.

shauna carr wrote:
If it came down to 'closer to water' and 'south facing wall,' which do you think would be more important in the long run for a tree that I need to keep warm in the winter, but need to water more than many trees in the yard?

Why compromise? Just plant it closer to the home, and choose some fast-growing trees to plant along the perimeter of your property to mitigate the winds- if it is a significant issue. Place the tree where its needs will be supplied, or move the supplies, or design for its needs to be supplied from the landscape. There are many more options out there.

shauna carr wrote:
Are there any natural ways to help make a warmer environment for a tree that needs it? I thought I remembered Holzer doing something for his citrus trees, but cannot for the life of me find information on it.

sepp holzer "rocks" permaculture! Get the pun, and the solution? Another method that sepp holzer uses is building ponds. Ponds store thermal energy and release it overtime. They mitigate the climate.

shauna carr wrote:
Growing trees closer together than normal - anyone heard of this working at all in the desert? I know out here it sometimes helps for gardening, as the plants grow together more and form a sort of cooler microclimate together underneath them. Didn't know if anyone has tried this with trees at all, though.

I advise watching these videos:





and geoff lawton's Desert Oasis

shauna carr wrote:
What do you like to use 'bushy' trees for, like pomegranates and texas persimmon? Wildlife habitat, shade for understory plants, other? Just trying to make sure I think of the factors I can get from my bushy tree before I plant it, you know?

Stack functions! It can also be pollinator forage.

To get a lot more ideas, I recommend watching paul wheaton's Permaculture Keynote:


Also, for furthering your education and helping you organize your thoughts, I recommend visiting the Guide to Getting Help on Projects thread.
 
shauna carr
Posts: 84
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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Thanks to the guide to getting help on projects thread - I hadn't even known of that one!

I'm just rereading my post and man, I do seem really scattered right, now, don't I? Sigh. Hard to believe, but I actually had an aerial map, redrew it to a large size, calculated out the rain fall on my property, the water needs of my plants, what support plants I wanted for nitrogen needs, carbon, was working on which support plants to add for understory and such, where I wanted the plants to go, and so on and so forth. Lovely, detailed, had about what I wanted.

And then I started reading more, and learning more - as I suspect all of us continue to do - and each time I learn something more, I question what I've already got. The placement, the water, what kind of water collection might be better with a potentially increasing drought in our area, which native plants might be better than introduced ones, and so on. And honestly, I'm really glad you mentioned the organization part. Because I WAS organized, but I'm looking over my notes and realizing that I'm feeling so DISorganized because I've altered things so much that it's become so. My plan is no longer viable, but I haven't actually sat down to fully organize my new one. Need to take a bit to do that, really.

Appreciate the feedback, and the videos. Some I think would work here (I actually have a pond, even though it's impractical in a lot of ways here with the evaporation rate, but I'm hoping to collect enough water to make it viable). I hadn't been considering the assistance with the temperature regulation, though! Some I think might be problematic, though, as awesome as they would be in the winter - the rocks in the winter is great, but in the summer, unless the rocks are fully shaded, they make things TOO hot for some of the plants I'm working with. Can raise the temperature up to around 127 F, on hot days.

re: 75% support plants - I'm glad you asked. I was rechecking that and it wasn't support, it was legumes needed for nitrogen in terrible soil like mine IF one is also planning to use the legumes for eating (which I was). I jotted down the quote but failed to jot down the source, though, darn it. Just so little nitrogen in the soil here; it's really bad soil.

re: growth close tot he house. Thankfully, wildfires are not much of an issue here at the moment - not enough growth to support it! The last two fires from lightening strikes here just petered out on their own because of that. One benefit of living around here I hadn't even considered, LOL.

Thank you again, truly. You were very kind to someone who is feeling very clueless and frustrated right now.













 
Cristo Balete
Posts: 428
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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A couple things, you probably know, the guava and quince are self-pollinating so you can plant them by themselves. (Although guavas will give you more fruit if you also plant a pollinator tree) The persimmon may need a pollinator.

here's what this site says about persimmons, I'm not sure this is all the info you need, but it's a starting place:

http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/persimmon.html

" Persimmon trees are usually either male or female, but some trees have both male and female flowers. On male plants, especially, occasional perfect (bisexual) flowers occur, producing an atypical fruit. A tree's sexual expression can vary from one year to the other. Many cultivars are parthenocarpic (setting seedless fruit without pollination), although some climates require pollination for adequate production. When plants not needing pollination are pollinated, they will produce fruits with seeds and may be larger and have a different flavor and texture than do their seedless counterparts. "

The persimmon is the most vulnerable to wind, so it should be completely protected from pole-snapping winds.

But small trees need to move in the wind, it makes their trunks and branches stronger, so don't tie them down so they won't move, allow some swaying.

And if you get any more fruit trees, make sure that if they need a pollinator tree, that's it's not two of the same tree. They need to be different kinds of the same tree that blossom at the same time so the bees will transfer pollen back and forth.

Try to plant as many support plants that will attract bees for the best pollination early enough to help the fruit trees. Native flowers and weeds that bloom can coincide with the blooming of your trees. I got way better pollination this last year not mowing the native weeds that flowered in March when fruit trees started to blossom. The usual summer bloomers the bees enjoy start blooming too late. Some spring wildflower mixes do well and are not too expensive.
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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You're welcome! Please ask more questions when you get them! That's what we're here to do at permies.com!
 
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