Category Archives: Green Manure

Sunken Beds?






 As can be seen in these 2 pictures there is currently a lot of open space in my Orchard. This space both receives full sun and is irrigated. 
That got me thinking about how I could put that area to use. At first I tried pulling the mulch back from the area above the  dripperlines. That didn’t work out to well because the mulch was so deep that it would migrate back into and cover the cleared area within a day. That was when I thought of raised beds, but in reverse.

I built some 70″x14″ frames from cedar fence planks nailed together then reinforced in the corners with L-brackets. 
I installed these in between the trees and on the upslope side of the drip lines. I chose to put them there so that the majority of the water would still move through the mulch bed while water pulled uphill through capillary action would irrigate the crops in the boxes.

 Above is the first bed set into the mulch, in the foreground my Emerald Beauty Plan can be seen leafing out nicely. Below are the first 4 boxes installed between 2 rows of Plums, Pluots, Apricots, and Apriums.

Sweet Corn, Cow Peas, Pinto Beans, and Buckwheat have been sown in these first beds. The Sweet Corn is for us and the rest is for chicken feed and to help break up and improve the soil texture. I am now thinking that the middle row will be setup similarly to the first row but will be sunflowers mixed in with legumes and cover crop while the final row, where there is room for six boxes, I may fill the boxes and use them as true raised beds. The draw back on that is that I will need to irrigate them, the upside is fresh Tomatoes! 
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Orchard Plan

My orchard is going in to an area that is approximately 60′ E-W and 25′ N-S. I am going to plant in a Hedgerow style with N-S rows spaced 9′ apart with the trees in each row spaced 4′ apart. I messed around with trying to build the soil up over the summer with “green manure”. Robert over at xtremehorticulture told me I was probably wasting my time and he was right! Rule #1 : listen to the expert, especially if he’s an experienced expert. I tried everything from buckwheat to leftover seed from my wires exotic birds, it all came up fairly well but my chickens devastated everything green in the whole area. So what’s that all about? just pointing out that I still ain’t learned my lesson. Robert kept trying to nudge me away from hedgerows so what did I do? As laid out above I’m planting my trees in hedgerows! That’s the wonderful, or maybe terrible thing about the web, it ain’t very hard at all to find some intelligent sounding guy that’s posted an article (or blog) that you can use to justify whatever preconceived notion you may have. Rule #2 : if your looking for authoritative advice about growing fruit trees in Las Vegas listen to Robert over at knows more than Max.com.

My Orchard area looking East
My Orchard area looking generally West
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