Valley Permaculture Alliance

We are looking to buy land in New River - hoping to develop an organic orchard & garden. The owner of the plot we are looking at said the caliche is really thick and she has only been able to grow 2-3 types of trees (olive, palm tree, and another shallow root tree) in the 36 years she has lived there.

Please advise: Is New River notorious for really thick compacted clay?? Or is it the same as the rest of the Valley & we just need to dig a drainage chimney and use lots of mulch & compost etc ?

She also mentioned the winter temps sometimes go down to 25 and that it's too cold for citrus.

Please advise: Is there a way to keep the trees warm? (using super-thick mulch, for instance, and a net over the top) ??  Or a walled south-facing garden (using strawbales) to keep the trees warmer? Has anyone else found north Phx too cold for citrus?

We have the "Extreme Gardening" books and are very keen to plant all types of fruit trees, including lots of citrus - so we'd really appreciate your inputs on both these issues before we commit to the purchase. Thank you very much for your help!

(We'd love to host Permaculture classes etc out there!)

Tags: caliche, citrus, soils, temperatures, winter

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Specifically Koine Greek. That is what the texts were written in because that is the form of Greek spoken at the time. He majored in greek for his undergrad and then in Seminary continued with Greek and Hebrew (and a little bit of Aramaic too). You're right, its not a spoken language now. Its important that ministers are taught to read the text in its original language because so much meaning is lost in translation.

I find people's names fascinating.  The old original professions were the source of names:  Miller, Tailor, even I think Chandler (candle maker) -- and the Nordic tradition of names like Peterson is literally Peter's son.  I'm re-reading Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" (title is longer) discourse on all things Greek and Roman mythological and the names are both so common and uncommon.  I named twin sister kitties I had Artemis and Diana as a 'secret' joke.

We live in  Desert Hills and our homestead is about sixish miles south of New River. We have similar climate and soil. The soil and caliche will vary from area to area. We've dug down four feet and never hit caliche but if you go 200-300 yards into the desert behind our house the caliche will come to within one foot of the surface. If there are any washes around the area you're looking at check the layers in the banks for caliche. It should give you an indication of where it's at. We've also found the ground to be thick compacted clay for only about a foot and then starts to loosen up after that. Again that could vary with location.

 

The temp will drop into the 20's in the winter but 2 years ago when we had the hard freeze it got into the teens. We had just planted four citrus trees and lost two. The other two had some damage but survived. Just like in the valley you should make sure to cover them when there is a warning. Also if they say it's going to be 25 degrees in Phx then you can figure its going to be 15-20 degrees up here. Currently we're growing oranges, limes, grapefruit, figs, apples, grapes, plums, peaches and pomegranates and they are all doing good. We just cover them with blankets when it freezes. Microclimates around your house are very important.

 

As for gardening, we've had great success. We have mostly sunken bed plots with compost and organic fertilizer ( JB Stone Organic Fertilizer) added to it. We have one raised bed herb garden but the difference in watering is amazing. I can go 2-3 days watering the sunked bed but have to water the raised bed every day.

 

Some of the downfalls to living up here are:

1. Well water. The arsenic levels are higher up here than in Phx. In Circle Mountain (just east of New River) the water is generally not safe to drink without a filter. You can have the water tested. I'm on private water but my neighbors have a well and they had to drill over 750ft.

2. Wildlife. Rabbits, packrats, kangaroo rats, javelines and sparrows are the bane of my existance. Why eat a creosote bush when I can eat your cucumbers. Chicken wire, hardware clothe and bird netting will become your best friend.

3. Wildlife 2.0. If you have livestock then you have to deal with coyotes, bobcats, hawks and owls. I've lost 5 chickens to coyotes and owls and one turkey to a bobcat.

Plusses

1. Its dark (I can see stars at night) quite and very peaceful.

2. I know all my neighbors and people actually talk to you.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Hi Kevin - This is great, thank you so much!

Delighted to hear you are managing to grow citrus (and congrats on growing such a nice variety of fruit trees! That's my style!) From what I gather, the soil on our acreage is thick & compact clay. The owner showed me a shallow drainage ditch she had dug with a pick & said it was hard going - sounds like the caliche is right near the surface. I'll check the wash this weekend.

Thanks for the tip about sunken beds. I heard about that years ago in Calif desert...but given the hardness of the soil, I would not have opted for going in that direction. How deep did you dig them?

We'll have the water tested, but will probably have some kind of filter anyway, plus our "structured water" unit (great for plants & animals, and they need much less water than normal).

Added hardware cloth & bird netting to my list! I have some colourful plastic "streamers" that work great for protecting fruit trees from birds. I can pass some on to you if ever we cross paths. They protected my entire peach tree crop (2 fully laden young trees) without any loss!

I'm looking forward to moving in. We put our offer on the land in the next day or so. Thanks again for writing in detail - much appreciated. AG

Hi Anthea, glad I could help.

 

I'm intrigued by the plastic streamers. I seen them in stores but never tried them. I usually just put bird netting over the trees. I also helps keep the ground squirrels (aka prairie dogs) from eatting the fruit.

 

As for the sunked beds, we dug down about 14-18 inches. The plots are 4ft by 10ft. We remove about 2 wheelbarrows full of dirt and replace it with compost and some sand. There used to be a really good page on Native Seed Search about sunken beds but it looks like they redid their website and its no longer there. Here's a couple of other articles that might help.

http://www.plantbyplant.com/pages/des.htm

 

http://az-heirloomgarden.org/heirloom_garden/SunkenBeds.html

 

Good luck on your bid. It'll be nice having some permies up here to talk to. And let me know if you need anything else.

Hi Kevin - I passed your homestead this morning (well, kinda) on my way to look at the property again and thought how nice it will be to have a fellow-permi nearby! The soil is not nearly so bad as I was expecting - lots of loose surface silt etc. With hard clay further down, no doubt. Anyway, I'll enjoy slowly working away at it. I'll let you know when (if) we move in!

Hi Kevin - We moved in during the summer and just picked up a bunch of fruit trees (bare root) to plant in a couple of days after the cold weather passes. Need your advice re fencing, please - what type of fencing do you use? Chickenwire... dog-run wire... reinforced concrete mesh... ? Do you sink the wire below ground? Do we need to simply circle each tree above ground? Any suggestions on where to get fencing at reasonable price? Could we come by (my sister & I) and see what you have done in your garden? you're welcome to contact me at antheag05@yahoo.com  Thanks, Kevin!

What are these plastic streamers you mentioned? Photo? Where can I  get them?

I never know what I am going to be killing with Bird netting ( including birds that get trapped I have had to remove dead bunnies and lizards  that got caught and tried and tried to get away. The blood is ugly and sad.  ( bird netting on pepper plants, strawberries( did not help AT ALL) , this year my first season looking forward to enjoying the  peaches from  tree I planted  2 winters ago, and I used to try and use it to protect the seeds while sprouting.

Linda, you can use mylar type garlands, or there is special "bird" tape or you can use old CDs/DVDs.  One of the tips we discovered was to not put the tape or CDs (or aluminum pie plates :-) on too soon or the birds get use to the 'flicker' and ignore them and go for the fruit.  I have also been concerned about birds and particularly hummingbirds getting into the netting.

Ugh, the thought of loosing one of my little hummer friends is a sad one. I had read somewhere not to even bother with the reflective stuff it did not help in the veggie garden. I will add to the peach tree defensive front !  Ironically I just added a shiny pinwheel this morning.

The reflective tapes and such do work, but you have to put out a lot of them and you have to hold off until the fruit is near ripening - or you see the first bird pecks because do get used to the 'flash/flicker'.

I use bird netting over my starting shelves because the birds like to come and get a seed - the little stinkers and I check repeatedly during the day - a hummer got spooked by me and went straight into the net - almost stopped my heart while I got the little guy out.  I'm real careful with hanging bird netting.  Laying it across sprawling tomatoes is generally okay (keeps the Sphinx moth from laying eggs - tomato horn worms).

I am holding off talking about tomatoes right now ;( 

I will send sad photos another time. The good news is I did better than I have done in the past :O

Back to Bird netting. SO I have the tree enveloped in netting and now 2 shiny  whirly pinwheel toys and one shiny twisty do da.  Guess I will start looking for old bad cds and disposable aluminum backing tins. Knowing the attitude of critters at my place I hope the bird don't just think they are being serenaded while they go for the peach buffet!

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