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water needs for berry orchard  RSS feed

 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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At last! I am implementing my little berry orchard! Here is what I am doing: the field is currently a meadow and I just open holes directly into the sod, put the rooted little currant plant (made myself from hardwood cutting last winter), put some compost and soil in it, and that's it.
Next steps: 1) spread some cow manure around each plant, on top of the sod; 2) mulch with wood chips or pine bark on top of manure/sod. What do you think?
People here say I should have dug the field and incorporated manure, but I didn't want to disturb the soil too much and didn't want the hassle...Am I overoptimistic (or just lazy)?

Moving on, I am now figuring out how much water will I need in the summer in order to purchase the right sized water tank (low budget). The only information I found says that I need around 20-25 litres per squared meter per week.
So, beginner questions: how do I translate this into need per plant? One plant counts for one squared meter? If the soil is mulched with bark or chips will the needs lower? How much?

Any help is very very welcome!
Annalisa
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3313
Location: Anjou ,France
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Hi welcome to Permies I think to have an answer to your questions I think some more information might help
firstly what type of soil and climate have you ?

David
 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Hi David Livingston and thank you in advance.
I live in central Portugal at 1000 m. We've got around 2000mm of rain during the year, mostly during winter and spring (till May/June). Summer varies, but let's say that mid July/August and September can be dry and hot (oro-mediterranean climate). Last summer was extremely hot and dry till end of September and we had very little rain till November.
Soil is acidic and sandy, quite poor due to the texture and heavy rain.

Thank you again
 
Andre Lemos
Posts: 59
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Annalisa, in Portugal, berries need a lot of water during the summer. Experiment different quantities but i would say that 25l/ square meter/week is far from enough. I would even risk saying that with the soils you have, 50 l would be not enough. Maybe try playing with shade on them?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2422
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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People here say I should have dug the field and incorporated manure, but I didn't want to disturb the soil too much and didn't want the hassle...Am I overoptimistic (or just lazy)?

Moving on, I am now figuring out how much water will I need in the summer in order to purchase the right sized water tank (low budget). The only information I found says that I need around 20-25 litres per squared meter per week.
So, beginner questions: how do I translate this into need per plant? One plant counts for one squared meter? If the soil is mulched with bark or chips will the needs lower? How much?


hau Annalisa,

First off, your area translates to "high desert" type weather wise.

The people who told you to "dig the field" are used to Commercial Agriculture techniques, so don't worry about not following their "advice".

Now as to the manure on top of pasture, this will take a while for those nutrients to reach your roots, then there is the issue of the grass roots stealing some for their own use prior to the goodies getting where you want them. This is not really a problem but you need to be aware of the situation.
Water needs, this depends on several factors which are;
1) the ability of the soil to hold water after the rains stop.
2)how much of this held water will be stolen by those grass plant roots.
3)heat and humidity during the dry spell(s).
4) depth of the mulch layer. (something to consider here is types of rodents you have in your area, many rodents love to live in mulch, and they usually love to eat the plants that this mulch was provided for).

If information says you need 25 L per sq. M, then you can figure on triple that figure per sq. M, most resources for your area are thinking you are growing pasture grasses not both grasses and bushes.
The mulch will slow down the evaporation and it will (if thick enough) eventually kill the grasses which will then become mulch prior to being fertilizer. This will only take effect months after the mulch layer begins to kill those grass plants.

So for the first year it would be conservative to allow 75 L per sq. Meter per week. If you have only one bush per sq. meter then this figure will get you by at the least. Observation will be key here and a "Dip stick" for each bush will help you collect correct data.
A dip stick is a wood dowel that just fits into a tube that you sink into the soil as near the center of the feeding roots as possible, (I use pieces of plastic tubing at the time of planting) you drop the dowel down to the bottom of the tube, let it sit for 10 minutes then pull it out and check for moistness (like an automobile oil stick)).
In "high desert" type areas, watering tubes can be a big asset. These are pieces of PVC pipe that you dig a hole near the roots, plant a piece of pipe (the bottom end covered with a piece of porous cloth helps) and replace the soil so the pipe stands up.
Then you can fill the pipe with water and that water will seep into the ground at the depth of your root system, this conserves water as well as getting it to where you really want it.

I use this method for some of our trees in pastures, I use 2 inch (5 cm) PVC pipe and sink it 1.5 to 2 feet down, (45 to 60 cm) I have 30 cm of pipe above ground level and each pipe holds around 1.5 L of water per fill.
Hope this info helps you out. I can give more info if you desire.

Redhawk
 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Thank you all for the suggestions!

How do you define high desert climate, Bryant RedHawk? I don't know if we have this type here in Portugal.
According to bioclimatological maps, this area is hyper-humid. We do have a lot of rain here. Summer is dry, it is true, but generally we have water running through the ditch system (used  to water the meadow/pasture traditional system "lameiros") till July.
The pasture where I am planting the berry orchard can easily get water till July through this system. It only can dry out (not always too badly) in August and September.

Your system seems interesting but maybe it would be too labour intensive if you have 200 hundreds or more bushes.

I was thinking about drip irrigation using water from a tank (which I still have to purchase and dimension)...Anyway it does seem a huge amount of water...

If I cover the manure with a thick layer of bark or chips wouldn't that help kill the grasses beneath?
In between rows (berries lines are 2 m apart) I will keep grass low, cutting it back several time throughout the year. I can use the fresh grass for my chicken and also dry grass for bedding or deep litter. Or I could use a chicken tractor system...



 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2422
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
193
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Annalisa Bellu wrote:Thank you all for the suggestions!


How do you define high desert climate, Bryant RedHawk? I don't know if we have this type here in Portugal.
According to bioclimatological maps, this area is hyper-humid. We do have a lot of rain here. Summer is dry, it is true, but generally we have water running through the ditch system (used  to water the meadow/pasture traditional system "lameiros") till July.

This map might help both of us out.  koppen climate classification
This map identifies northern Portugal as CsB, this translates out as; Mild temperature witth dry warm summers. Not what I had described previously,
Your actual climate is very much like where I live, my koppen climate classification is the same.

The pasture where I am planting the berry orchard can easily get water till July through this system. It only can dry out (not always too badly) in August and September.
  This is great, it means you won't have to depend on stored water for more than two to three months of the year, it also make rain water collection a possibility.

Your system seems interesting but maybe it would be too labour intensive if you have 200 hundreds or more bushes.
  We install those pipes at the time we plant, to do this retroactive would indeed be a lot of trouble.

I was thinking about drip irrigation using water from a tank (which I still have to purchase and dimension)...Anyway it does seem a huge amount of water...
  Drip irrigation is super, we use this too. Our tanks are 275 gal. each and so far we have two of these installed. I have plans to add 4 more at the minimum. (we use "totes" these are poly tanks within a metal container, we buy used ones for between 60 and 100 dollars, they come with a shut off valve and fill cap, ours come from the food industry, food grade, so we don't have to worry about contamination of the water. Most of ours had corn syrup or acetic acid in them, the acetic acid is also called citrus flavor here in the USA.

If I cover the manure with a thick layer of bark or chips wouldn't that help kill the grasses beneath?
  Yes, as I mentioned in my last post a thick layer of mulch will kill the grasses beneath them eventually, this will also hold the manure in place and allow slow leaching of those nutrients from the manure to seep gently into the soil so the roots will be able to use them.

In between rows (berries lines are 2 m apart) I will keep grass low, cutting it back several time throughout the year. I can use the fresh grass for my chicken and also dry grass for bedding or deep litter. Or I could use a chicken tractor system...
Great ideas, both are worth doing and that also makes the between space productive, one of the things we all want, multipurpose spaces that give us back more than we put into those spaces.

You have wonderfully sound ideas and plans already.

Redhawk

 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Thank you Bryant, again! For the feedback and suggestions.

As for the water tank, the cheapest solution I sow, so far, is a garden swimming pool with, if I remember well, can store up to 12 m3 (around 300 euros). A concrete tank would cost above a thousand, but off course it would be more durable...Proper metal irrigation tanks also cost above 1000 euros or 2000...

We already dug a small pond where water from the ditch system flow in, but it also flow out, of course, so we need to put some kind of liner in it to avoid the leaks.

 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2422
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
193
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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If there is a soft drink bottling plant near you, check with them, that is where we get our totes from.
Once they have emptied the syrups out, it costs more to send them back to the place they came from so lots of times you can get them fairly easily.

This links will show what they look like +Shopping&utm_term=]Plastic Tote or Giant Carboy

as the price shows, brand new these are outrageously expensive. That's why we get the used ones, pretty cheap, durable, hold a good amount of water, and they are easy to plumb with PVC pipe.
 
Jack Anderson
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:If there is a soft drink bottling plant near you, check with them, that is where we get our totes from.
Once they have emptied the syrups out, it costs more to send them back to the place they came from so lots of times you can get them fairly easily.

This links will show what they look like +Shopping&utm_term=]Plastic Tote or Giant Carboy

as the price shows, brand new these are outrageously expensive. That's why we get the used ones, pretty cheap, durable, hold a good amount of water, and they are easy to plumb with PVC pipe.



Also check local distilleries, dairy farms, and water treatment plants... You want to avoid all corn, olive, and soy oil... They are impossible to rinse out. Or you can just get them from a site like this http://www.ibctoterecycling.com/used-ibc-containers-for-sale/ or craigslist https://desmoines.craigslist.org/search/fod?query=ibc+totes.
 
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