Abelia Frutteto wrote:Thanks very much for your replies! I'lll have a look at the stone and pipe condensation ideas. To clarify, rain here stays where it falls; the land is flat flat flat. It used to be marshy but a few hundred years ago drain ditches were dug around fields. Back then all fields also had hedgerows but these were ripped out for tractoring convenience. The property I am dealing with was a poplar tree field (planted x paper) for 30 years and that was 'harvested' about 20 years ago leaving stumps/roots to rot in place (or re-sprout). Many stumps now produce poplar/pioppini mushrooms. After the poplar harvest the field became a Blackthorn jungle and I am slowly taking part of that out with a few trees remaining for shade. I will take all of your ideas for soil improvement to heart; the land here is quite alkaline so will have to think about the calcium addition. I'm still wondering about the idea of SUNKEN beds though. We are struggling with a well that tends to run dry before watering is finished in the summer (hand water, hose & pump) and each August seems to be hotter and dryer than the last. I'd like to plan a small 20 tree orchard/forest for this increasingly arid zone and wonder if creating 'earthworks' as very wide & slightly sunken beds (30-50 cm deep?) around each plant hole would be a wise idea. I do find information about sunken bed gardening but not about semi-sunken orchards. Thanks again!