Category Archives: desert fruit

Orchard Layout

 

 

 

 

This first layout is an as built just after I had finished planting all of my trees.

2012 Orchard Plan

 

This is after this years plantings. It really isn’t totally accurate or scaled very well seeing as how the chicken run now takes up the whole length of the south end of the area and the Grenada & Kasmir Pomegranates are inside that run. It is accurate as to varieties and locations. The pink dotted Splash, Flavor Supreme, and Flavor Grenade are Pluots an interspecific cross of plum and apricot. Purple dotted Emerald Beauty, Santa Rosa, Burgundy, and Beauty are plums; Orange dotted Early Treat, Florida Prince, O’Henry, and Babcock are peaches along with my lone Arctic Star nectarine. Gold Kist,Royal Rosa, Katy, and Tomkot are apricots with Cot-n-Candy & Flavor Delight being Apriums another interspecific cross of apricot and plum the leans more towards the apricot. 2013 Orchard-Plan

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Life’s a Beach

Last Wednesday Karen and I escaped Vegas for an excursion to Southern California. As usual neither one of us is ever able to totally escape from the day to day grind but we sure tried. Running her own business, Gotbirds?, Karen has to take every opportunity she can to pick up supplies, we took the truck this time in order to deliver a bunkbed for our niece and nephew so we stopped at Magnolia Bird Farm. Frank and all the rest of the staff there are fantastic people and always treat Karen like she treats all of her customers. 600 pounds of seed, 3 pair of cinnamon zebra finches, and 2 pair of button quail later we were back on the road.I’m not sure if Arwen’s reaction was for us or the bunk beds but it was certainly great to see her, Grady and finally get to meet our newest niece, 3 month old Tess:We did manage to fit in a little beach time:Timber Bamboo also found a spot in our agenda thanks to Karen’s single minded focus. She knew I was looking for some to screen my orchard/chicken ranch from the street, but when we found it outrageously priced at a wholesale nursery in Oceanside I was ready to call it quits. Not Karen though, she somehow conned the guy helping us to call one of his “sources”. We ended up at Bamboo HQ in Vista. What a great place! I am so blessed to be married to Karen, she truly does not let anything stop her when she’s on a mission. They not only had the Oldhami Bamboo I was looking for but also a beautiful Jacaranda Tree that Karen had been trying to find for her sister.Saturday on the way to ride the train the kids helped me find a Mulberry tree at a nursery in Escondido. All in all we had a great extended weekend and came back with desperately needed supplies for Karen’s business along with plants for my Orchard/Chicken Ranch project.The Mulberry Tree replaced the very first one I planted this past spring that didn’t make it. This time I added more compost in a bigger area and also raised the planting a bit so as not to let it get wet feet.The bamboo went in slightly behind the pomegranates to provide screening during the winter. Once the Mulberries, Bamboo, and Pomegranates get established I plan on removing the evil, nasty oleanders that flank the gates and currently provide the bulk of the screening from the street.

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My eye Your eye

We had a Professional Photographer show up at our door a couple of months ago who offered her services in return for room & board.

She set out to document a day at the Fruity Chicken Orchard. This was in mid February and we were putting our last couple of trees in the ground.

I have always appreciated good tools but never viewed them as part of an interesting composition, although I’m sure the Kool Krew were convinced they were the main focus.

Who would have guessed that something as routine as staking and painting tree trunks could look so interesting.

Usually it’s just me working on my little project, a camera shows up and my nephew suddenly becomes helpful.

  

My Sister Lorri has a definite gift for finding the beauty in everything and capturing it on film.

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Common Sense Gray Water Irrigation

Today I completed the basic installation of my Gray Water Irrigation system for my High Density Orchard. The system brings water from my surge tank (a rubbermaid garbage can) through a 400 micron filter (that only removes the really big stuff) and to the orchard via 3/4″ poly tubing.

In the above pictures the Surge tank and Filter is underneath the stairway in the first pic, the 3/4″ main line can be seen on the right hand side of all of the pics and it also runs along the fence line with the grapevines.

Once the Gray Water reaches the Orchard via the 3/4 poly line it is distributed throughout the planting area via 1/2″ dripper line. This dripper line has emitters spaced every 12″ along it’s length and I have spaced the lines every 4′ running generally with the contours of the area. What the heck does that mean? It means that the rows themselves are basically level but each row is lower down the slope of the land than the previous. Originally I thought my Orchard sloped from the NE corner down to the SW corner which would have forced me to orient the rows on the bias running NW-SE, but when I dug out the laser it showed that I had only a very slight E-W slope with the main slope being N-S. Consequently I ran my lines E-W, located 1′ N of each row of trees.
 
The first picture shows the layout of the emitter lines in relation to the trees, the following pics show the dispersal of the Gray Water from the emitters.

In a traditional drip irrigation system for a planting such as an orchard you would irrigate each individual tree with three or four emitters located in a circular pattern roughly at the drip-line of the tree. What’s the drip-line of the tree you say? It is the circle defined by where the rain would drip off of the leaves of the tree. This system is designed to water each individual tree, additionally common knowledge (which everyone knows ain’t necessarily correct) has it that this type of irrigation should be done slowly and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. This deep root growth is supposed to allow the tree to tap into buried sources of nutrients and provide a secure foundation.

 

Here we see the drip lines running down the rows of trees, which along this axis are spaced 9′ apart,  the expanding area of moisture can also be seen developing in the second pic.

The traditional system works great when you are providing water solely for the purpose of irrigation, in my Orchard my water source is primarily a waste product from laundering clothes. This Gray Water is not storable due to the fact that it contains nutrients that will start to get funky in 24 hours or less. Also for a Gray Water system to work in the long run it must be as unobtrusive as possible, if the system requires thought and effort every time a load of clothes is going to be washed it ain’t gonna work! 

Capillary action is the main theory my Orchards irrigation system is based on. Basically I am watering the entire 600 square foot area of my Orchard instead of the 24 seperate 4′ diameter circles around each tree. When I first started researching this concept it made absolutely no sense but the more I read the more the pieces came together from separate sources to reinforce what Paul James over at graywatergardening.com is preaching. What I am trying to achieve is an inviting biodynamic area for my trees to send roots out into. The moist areas seen expanding out from the lines in the pictures above is the result of approximately 80 gallons of Gray Water flowing through the system, by next weekend I’m hoping that normal laundry use and capillary action will result in uniformly moist soil over the entire area. 

Then comes the mulch! Everything I am trying to emulate in my Orchard says that mulch is the key! Dave Wilson over at www.davewilson.com says it’s key to successful Back Yard Orchard Culture, Bob Morris at xtremehorticulture says it’s key to growing fruit in Las Vegas, and finally Paul James at graywatergardening.com says it’s key to having a safe and efficient Gray Water system. So next week I plan on hauling in mulch (ground up tree trimmings) and covering all of the area watered by the drip lines to a depth of at least 6″. Over time this will provide a fertile and ever improving soil for my trees to spread their roots into as the mulch slowly breaks down and is incorporated down into the soil by the natural action of earthworms, God’s little roto-tillers.

Putting things in the right order

Obviously there is a lot going on in my “orchard” right now due to it being planting season for bare root fruit trees, I need to point out that there needs to be planning and thought put into a backyard orchard project. While you might succeed if you drop by the local nursery and buy a couple trees on a whim doing it right takes work. I started thinking about this project last spring and was amazed at the information I found on the Web and in my hometown. Dave Wilson Nursery has great information and from what I understand were the originators of the Backyard Orchard Culture concept, Robert Morris over at xtremehorticulture founded the UNCE demonstration orchard in North Las Vegas back in the 90’s and has written the book so to speak on growing fruit in the Eastern Mojave Desert. These two sources have provided me with lots of information and the inspiration to start my orchard. Dave Wilson BYOC basics on youtube is a great primer if you want to see what BYOC is all about. So to sum it all up if your thinking you might want to get involved in the locally sourced (what could be more local than your own backyard?) food movement check out the information Dave Wilson Nursery has to offer, then look around your community a bit and I’ll bet you find an activist/expert like Robert Morris and the other great people Las Vegas is lucky enough to have over at the UNCE orchard!

Bonus !!

I went to the Orchard this morning hoping to pick up a leftover barefoot tree or three from the big order last week. I scored big!! John hooked me up with: 1 apple, Fuji Red; 1 Nectarine, Arctic Star; 5 Peaches, Fairtime, Florida Prince, Babcock, O’henry, & Early Treat; and 3 Pluots, Splash, Dapple Dandy, & Flavor Grenade. Now I got to figure out where to put them in the layout of my Orchard!

                                NORTH
——————————————————————————————————————-I B
Plum          9′             Apricot      9′         Pluot        9′            Apple       12′      I L
  o Emerald Beauty     o Gold Kist          o Splash                 o Fuji                  I O  E
  o Santa Rosa           o Royal Rosa       o Dapple Dandy       o Cripps Pink      I C  A
  o Flavor King           o Blenhem            oArctic Star            o Red Fuji           I K  S
                                 Aprium                  Peach————–Nectartine               I      T
  oFlavor Grenade       o Flavor Delight     o Mid Pride            o Einshemer       I W
                                                             o Fairtime              o Arctic Star       I A
                                                             o  Early Treat         o Florida Prince  I L
                                                             O’Henry              Babcock          I L

This is what I’m thinking right now, but that could change by morning. One of the factors I’m thinking about is that block wall on the East end, it is 7′ tall and has 2 30′ pine trees behind the apples and the nectarines. Is that going to cut back the morning sun to much? and the shade from the other trees to the west going to cut down the afternoon sun to much? or is the combination of the two factors going moderate the brutal summer conditions here in Las Vegas just right? Lastly I wonder how that Einshemer bareroot apple over at Lowes would work out? hmmmmmmm.

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