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Starting a food forest in the High Desert of Santa Fe NM.

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Hey Humans,

I am working/planning toward a food forest here outside of santa fe NM.
Windswept, 7,000 feet. 13inch of rain a year.

I am planning on transforming my front yard (probably more than half of or 3/4 acre homestead) into a food forest.

We have a cistern that collects our shower water and roof water on our Casita of 600sqft.
Looking to get more catchment for the 1800 sqft main house.

Our land doesn't have much of a grade, but some. i plan to swale it up! I am also thinking of ways to divert the road water (that makes small ponds when we get monsoons) into the front yard that is a bit barren.
The front yard has short clumps of native grass, four winged salt bush, some junipers, pinions, a couple low growing sumac and some aerating mounds designed by our fine furry mammal gofer/pocket moles. We have lots of deer mice around this area. They ate most of the squash seeds we planted this spring.

I also bought a little bike like seeder to put some cover crops in.
Planning on legumus trees and clovers and alfalfas to start with. I have a 50lb bag of oats and another of rye. We have a few young apricots and cherry trees i put in several years ago.
I have red clover, yellow clover and alfalfa on the way in the mail. I have daikon seeds, NM locust seeds, and a lb of black locust seeds on the way.
Hopefully before fall we will put in a large hooped greenhouse for growing year round and starting our tree nursery.

Before i swale I need a large supply of cheap or free mulch. I have been buying stray bales for 7-8 a piece but my truck broke down and before it is fixed it wuld be nice to zero in on some heavier mulch that will not blow away on top of the berms to be born.

Thing is, here in the desert mulch isn't everywhere. Or maybe it is... just need to find it.

Ideas of all kinds are welcome.
Thanks for existing.
May abundance rain forever and may all beings be fed.

Posts: 221
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
goat hugelkultur purity forest garden trees woodworking
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Hi human

One thing that immediately comes to mind is getting up some wind cover. It goes a long way to helping your fruit and nut trees up, and keeping in that precious moisture.

what is your hardiness zone? that would help me determine what plants would grow in your area. I lived in Flagstaff arizona at 7,300ft, wondering if you get as cold as we did there.

Also, what is your precip? and are you in the monsoon belt/do you experience large dumps of rain in the late summer?
Posts: 826
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Mac, those junipers make great windbreaks, so maybe filling in with those. Transplant babies with thick mulch around them, as often as you can, and get them up and running, create an exterior barrier of them. They live a long time and do great in a drought. Then you can use whatever mulch you manage to collect.

A lot of people put wood chips in their pathways, but I let the paths go to weeds and mow them with a lawn mower that cuts them into small pieces, and I get lots of mulch. In the spring I am mowing several times and get repeated "harvests,"

I've found with straw from other places, even locally, I've ended up with weeds I didn't want, and it's expensive, but still a good source. I like it a lot better after it's rotted, so I try to throw manure on top of it. So figuring out how to grow your own weeds and mow them can be a big help.
Posts: 134
Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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Though I have no personal experience with the conditions you are dealing with, I do remember, in Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden, reading about the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, in the high desert of your state. Are you familiar with it? I believe they receive visitors...might find some ideas worth copying, there?
Posts: 104
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Here's something I came across a few months back, sand. I know it sound weird, but it actually works. You should have tons of it over there. You may need to do some experimenting with it, how much for what plants, which plants like/don't like it, etc. I attached a PDF that I downloaded a while back about it.

Filename: Aug11.pdf
Description: Miracle Mulch
File size: 338 Kbytes
Posts: 59
Location: The Hague; Morocco asap
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look into olla / wet pots; perfect for that situation. The link also leads to the Groasis Waterboxx. I got 20 of those myself.
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