Will Moraes

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since Jan 26, 2016
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Leander, TX
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Recent posts by Will Moraes

Tyler Ludens wrote:It looks like you're planning what is essentially a really big raised bed, so my question is - what provision are you making for rainwater harvesting, or do you plan to irrigate for the lifetime of the trees?  I planted a fruit orchard in some pretty nice deep prairie soil and the trees all died in the drought a few years ago.  I won't plant more trees without "planting the rain" first.



That's a good way to describe it.  We'll probably have to use city water to irrigate initially, but I hope to incorporate something like a watson wick, open wicking bed, or similar during site work to help manage rainwater and irrigation.  We already have rain catchment but that water supplies household needs.  There will come a time when family water demands are reduced, at which point some rainwater can be used for irrigation.  I'm also looking in to rain gardens.  Final result will incorporate several methods to reduce dependence on irrigation.  Long term I hope for a situation like William describes, where the trees do not need supplementary water (except in extreme drought).  I haven't found any books that specifically address artificially improving water retention (beyond using organic matter or volcanic rock).

Wayne and Marco - the mulch has decayed to a crumbly mass in thicker areas where I pull back the top layer.  I'd prefer not disturb the soil beyond holes for tree planting. We don't have too many local options for types of mulch, but I suppose that any type makes a difference.
7 years ago
Thanks for the detailed answer, Casie!  You forgot to mention that it's a lot easier to leave the mulch in place!  I had not thought about the aspect of the mulch potentially slowing infiltration and holding moisture which, in our climate, is a bonus - almost like a hugelkutur.
7 years ago
I've been using printed satellite imagery for planning and to track plantings, but it's not very forgiving and tends to get cluttered.  QGIS sounds like it might work for me - thanks for the info, Bernard!
7 years ago
We have a ~2000 SF area planned for a fruit tree orchard.  We have minimal soil on fractured limestone.  There is very little growing in the location now beyond some scattered native grasses or weeds and wildflowers.  It has been covered with mulch for 5 years.  The mulch is primarily mountain cedar (or juniper) and has not been renewed since it was initially spread.  Since there is limited soil, and the land slopes slightly, we intend to build up the area 6 to 12" with good soil (enclosed in a block retaining wall).

Should we be trying to remove the mulch prior to adding additional soil?  It's 1 to 3" deep.  I think I understand the issues with nitrogen, but since it's been decaying for years, I think the larger issue might be that the mulch is cedar and might not fully decay during the current century.  Any advice?

Will
7 years ago
I'm also building brush dams in the small gullies and washes/ravines on our 7 acres.  A few bags of leaves collected from neighbors will be dumped on the upstream side of the larger dams, and I intend to plant a seedlings like oaks, mountain laurel, and goldenball lead tree along the edges of the ravines.  The dams are, in my mind, a great way to keep organic material and some rainwater on our property,
7 years ago
The book "How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest" by Jill Nokes discusses propagation of several hundred varieties of trees and shrubs from both seeds and cuttings, and may be a valuable resource for you.
7 years ago
I can mail you 20 to 30 seeds for each of the following nitrogen fixers, if you are interested.  Viability has not been tested, but all seeds are fresh, and both plants are considered drought tolerant.

Texas Mountain Laurel
Goldenball Leadtree
7 years ago
That's really inspiring, Randie. Is your soil the east side clay or are you on the limestone shelf? Do all of the selected fruit trees tolerate cold? Did you source the trees locally or online? What sort of irrigation are you using for establishment and the brutal summer months?
I look forward to watching this grow.
Will
8 years ago

Marty Mitchell wrote:Wicking Bed De-coupled

Here is a video of a wicking bed followed up by an explanation of how it works.



Thank you for posting this video. I'm in the process of creating a wicking bed, and the instructions are very helpful.
8 years ago