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Desert food guilds  RSS feed

 
Posts: 23
Location: Palominas, az
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Attempting to do permacilture gardens and food guilds in Ariz is really challenging. The problem.is water.
Everything has to be on a drip system or planted in a circle for overhead sprinklers.  Which is what I have done, but I have a hellava electric bill from running the pump 24/7. One system is solar driven, but doesn't always produce enough so I still have to drag hoses and hand water.
I'm doing this on about 2 acres, which doesn't sound like a lot until your back goes out from dragging hoses.
Anybody got any ideas about drought tolerant guilds?
 
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Posts: 468
Location: 6a
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Leila Blair wrote:Attempting to do permacilture gardens and food guilds in Ariz is really challenging. The problem.is water.
Everything has to be on a drip system or planted in a circle for overhead sprinklers.  Which is what I have done, but I have a hellava electric bill from running the pump 24/7. One system is solar driven, but doesn't always produce enough so I still have to drag hoses and hand water.
I'm doing this on about 2 acres, which doesn't sound like a lot until your back goes out from dragging hoses.
Anybody got any ideas about drought tolerant guilds?



I lived in AZ for a number of years so I understand all too well how intense the sun is there. 

I would create a central oasis with acacia and Mesquite to build biomass and shade. use the oasis to interplant and to protect the more tender varieties.    Possibly build a four pole shaded area where you could collect rainwater and do some trellis planting around the outside to create some shade.  Direct your rainwater.    

The Spanish Arbequina olive does really well as do some Italian varieties,  Pomegranates, figs, date palm, wolfberry, rosemary, agarita, prickly pear, Malva neglecta (mallow), purslane, grapes,   I would look at what people are growing in the middle east and parts of Europe that have your growing conditions.

Check out the Vegan Athlete's channel





 
Posts: 1636
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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In the desert animal and plant density is lower due to limited water resources. So you might have to follow nature and have a lower productive plant density.

You can however optimize your 2 acres by using wood chip to conserve water evaporation, encourage soil life to keep mineral bio-available decrease the amount of water that plants need to extract the mineral they need, and aerate the soil to hold more water and bio-available mineral, increase the amount of biomass in the soil (bio-char/woodchip/compost/etc). So inputs like mineral/rockdust, beneficial fungi/microbes, woodchip/bio-char and machinery to aerate the soil and earthworks/water works might be needed.

In terms of desert food guild, I would start of with a layer of onion/garlic family + thyme/rosemary/mint family + blackberry/bamble "family" + currant/gooseberry family + pomegranate + stone fruit (apricot/almond/plum/etc) + there are others like jujube/fig/etc. as for nuts (almond+sweet kernel apricot+ uzbek pistachio, macadamia nut) there are a few conifer type nut and ginkgo also. I would also have an overstory of palm tree (wine palm, date palm, etc) and also nitrogen-fixers.

The above can help lower you actual water/electric usuage. You can also time shift the electrical usage to lower the dollar amount for electricity even if the actual kilo-wattage doesn't go down. Usually it is cheaper in the night so you can only water at night or use a tank and gravity feed during the day)

Actually watering only at night sounds like a very good idea to also cut down on evaporation loss and so is drip irrigation vs overhead.

You might also have to start out with the expectation that you will have to spend alot of money doing earthwork and drip irrigation to get the system started but a few years down the road you will need less inputs once the system become more self-sustaining.
 
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Please watch this awesome video!!  Phoenix AZ permaculture food forest that looks like a rainforest.  The goal seems to be eventually you don't need to irrigate (although at the beginning it's different).  There's a lot about planting shade trees and a variety of layers.  It's so beautiful and inspiring.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WYnXMh254s&t=10s

 
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