I live in San Antonio, Texas. We get about 30in of rainfall on an avg. There is a spot on my property that is facing the southeast and is guarded from the north by the house itself. So it does get scorched by the summer sun. I was wondering if I can grow a small tropical food forest in there. I need some reference materials to research what species of plants I can grow there and how they might perform. I prefer plants including trees that can serve multiple functions. Any idea on what earthworks might be helpful in creating even a better environment for these plants? Thanks in advance for your help.
There definitely is some potential to grow some tropical plants in our area (I'm a few hours north of you), particularly as the climate continues to shift. I think the biggest limitations you'll find are the water needs and having a plan in place for killing freezes.
Many tropical plants might be okay with nothing more than a blanket and some nonLED christmas lights during cold snaps. I overwintered a pepper in the ground like that last winter. I'd be researching each plant to determine if that would be enough.
This year I'm trying to grow a mango tree from seed, but since it can't handle sustained chilly temperatures (not freezing) I'm going to keep it in a pot a aggressively prune for size. I don't think I could keep it going outside over the winter.
There are some tropical plants which have varieties that will fruit at least as far north as Austin. I don't know the varieties of the top of my head, but Central Texas Gardner had a recent episode that mentioned a fruiting palm, and my mother had a friend with fruiting bananas.
I'm going to give you a link to a nursery near me that specializes in native and adapted edible for forest gardens in this area. http://hillcountrynatives.net/ in particular I would suggest browsing his plant lists. Not everything on those lists is tropical, but many of them are. He also goes so far as to have a separate listing of nitrogen fixing plants for support species.
For earthworks, I suggest you spend some time browsing the earthworks forums on this site. Since you say you are in San Antonio I'm guessing you have a suburban or urban yard to work with. In my experience, swales and heavy mulching, and infiltration basins can all, with careful planning, be used without offending the neighbors.
I guess everyone has an angle. Fine, what do you want? Just know that you cannot have this tiny ad:
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