Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Temporary Canopy Trees (Permaculture Approach)

A cornerstone permaculture design approach is to use fast growing trees as temporary canopy until productive trees grow into to take that space in the canopy layer. In the Phoenix desert this becomes almost a requirement (I say almost because you can throw extra water and build temporary shade structures to keep trees alive when there is no natural canopy around, but that is the hard way to go about it). When you use other trees as temporary shade, you get many more benefits than just building shade structures:

  • Will make shade, without needing to stake any structure or worrying about it blowing away in a wind storm
  • Will create a microclimate in that section of the yard far more effectively than a shade structure will
  • Will add fertility to the soil by making bacterial and fungal associations and multiplying that content in the soil via increased root mass (especially true if the trees are nitrogen-fixing)
  • Will create free mulch via natural leaf dropping or intentional pruning
  • Will create a nurse environment for a productive tree
  • Nursed productive trees will establish faster due to the increased microbial activity in the soil

However this does require you to think ahead and get your temporary trees established first before you start planting your orchard. This really does pay off in the long run.

I have been putting this approach to good use for years in my yard. I use Moringa and Castor (Giant Zanibariensis) as fast growing canopy trees. And after 1-3 years I take them out once something becomes big enough to occupy that space. I have removed several trees this way. Today I removed two more.

Castor and Morninga were planted side by side to provide shade in my deciduous area. Castor was about 15 ft tall and Moringa was 25+ ft tall and provided significant shade. A Sweet Lavender Mulberry was planted in this area to be a productive tree that eventually provided the canopy in this area. Now that the Mulberry is big enough the Castor and Moringa have been stumped.

Sweet Lavender Mulberry providing really beautiful shade

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mid-May Update

Lots of fun stuff in the yard right now:

Little Psycho Nervosa Wild Coffee. Did great all winter (no defoliation) and nice spring growth

Coffee Flowers!

Beautifully ripe Black Star Surinam Cherry next to an unripe one

Gorgeous red growth flush on Marcus Pumpkin avocado

Tahitian pummelo! Second year of fruiting for me. Right now they are tennis ball size but when ripe will be the size of a women's basketball

Lots of baby mangos all over the yard. Jaqueline on the left and Cac on the right in this pic.

Floridaprince. Already harvested a few dozen. Still plenty left on the tree for us and the birds.

Apricots ripening up

Tons of figs all over the yard. In this pic: Genovese Nero (AF) in the front and Ronde de Bordeaux in the back

Black Maderia graft is pushing and looking good! Grafted onto Black Jack.

Grapes .... lots of grapes

Pomegranate is still flowering like crazy

Finish out with a pic of a pretty poppy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Moringa Airlayering Experiment, part 2

This is follow up to Moringa Airlayering Experiment, part 1

It has been a month so it is time to check the air layer experiment. Here is what the branch looks like on the tree. Look how much the moringa has leafed / branched out in just a month.

Airlayer May 2019

I cut the branch off the tree and put it on the ground so I could get a look at it.

Branch is about 15 feet tall

Opened up the airlayer ball .... nada. No roots and nothing that looks like root initials.

No roots. Air layer not successful

As a point of comparison, I did a Fig air layer about a week after I started this moringa air layer and the fig air layer is already full of roots. The temperature has been perfect over the last month for air layering. So if it was ever going to work, it should have worked in the last month.

So even though the air layering experiment was not successful, I cut the branch to 6 ft tall and stuck it in a pot. It will likely root (morningas root fairly easily). But this is why we experiment :)