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How to Green Your House from the Outside In, A Permaculture Design In Progress

Greening Your House from the Outside In Market Class Prez.pdf

Welcome to the Permaculture Progress Report for the Lonetti House! We will keep you posted during the changes to our home, urban orchards and gardens as we phase in more sustainable and energy efficient retrofits to this 1950 Suburban Home built by John F Long in the citrus orchards of north-central Phoenix.

As a follow-up to the class at the Phoenix Downtown Market yesterday, I have posted the presentation and added a section at the end that includes some of the Q&A session that followed. (To download a PDF of the presentation, please click on the link at the beginning of the blog) For those of you who missed the class, this presentation is a condensed summary of the permaculture design process that we used in evaluating how to implement green living strategies at our home, where we are at in the process and what we plan to implement in the future. I am happy to answer questions and will be adding content here as we make progress on the design.

Dan just finished his descriptions for the upcoming solar classes that will be offered next month, so keep checking the events section for “Is a Solar Power System Right for You? - What you need to know if you are thinking about going solar!” and “Solar 101 - Basic Questions answered about how Energy is generated from Solar Panels”

To those of you, who came to the class, a special thank you for your support of the guild and the market!

Cheers, Liz (and Dan)


July 10th, 2008

Hi All,

Thanks for the great feedback on the presentation to everyone. I wanted to talk about the Urban Orchards that we put in last winter/spring. Some of you will undoubtedly be interested in participating in the Guild’s upcoming ‘Tree Day’ this fall and I thought it would be great to share the types of trees that we planted and our success with them.

I’ll start with the South Orchard, or Citrus Orchard. The thinking behind pulling out our Oleanders on the South side of the house was multifaceted. They are beautiful, thick green and had pretty flowers, but that is about all I could say nice about them. In our area the Oleanders are succumbing to blight and will not be with us long anyway. That said, I could hear and see some roof rats living in there, as well providing prime cockroach habitat. They are also poisonous and you can’t even burn the wood without the fear of inhaling toxic fumes! They are bad news. So at the end of 2007 we rented a backhoe and dug out 4’ down to remove all the root system (since we had the big machine, we also loosened up the soil along the north side of our house for the orchard there - and by we I mean Dan!).

We replaced the Oleanders with Citrus trees because we needed an evergreen hedge to keep a level of privacy with our neighbors on that side, otherwise I would have probably done deciduous there. Their bedroom windows face our living room windows across our open car port. So we planted in a tight triangulated pattern (you can see it on the presentation under ‘New Tree Plan’) between 3-4 feet apart. The trees planted in order from west to east are:

1. Dwarf Morro Orange
2. Cara Cara Navel Orange
3. Kinnow Manderine
4. Clemintine Tangerine
5. Rio Red Grapefruit
6. Sweet Lime
7. Meyer Lemon
8. Mexican Lime

The spaces between the trees were then planted with some artichoke transplants from Dos Arbolitos (the Downtown Market Plant Guys – love them!) as well as lots of seeds tossed in. I did purposefully plant the taller growing seeds, like corn and sunflowers to specifically shade the baby trees from harsh morning and afternoon sun. We also covered the whole garden with some left over shade cloth we had used for Chaos (our shepherd mutt) back in CA.

The growth is amazing and we haven’t had to take the usual protective measure for the delicate bark because of the ‘jungle’ of growth around the trees. The microclimate created has worked for the benefit of all – me included.

On the North Side of the house, again under shade (this time with sheets from Goodwill, since no one can see past our fence on that side of the house, and they will need the shade only for the first couple summers) we planted our second Urban Orchard. These include:

1. Limequat
2. Variegated Pink Lemon
3. Mid Pride Peach
4. Desert Gold peach
5. Tropic Snow White peach
6. Golden Kist Apricot
7. Golden Kist Apricot
8. Katy Apricot
9. Pomegranate

The two evergreen citrus were planted on this side to keep our neighbor’s security light from impacting our bedroom window as much as it currently does. I did not do a big garden effort under these trees, but I did plant a couple of tomatoes, which have done amazingly well. I would have gotten a lot of tomatoes off those plants, but Buck (our puppy) got to them first!

Our Apple Orchard was planted with Anna and Dorset Golden Apples. They were planted with an extensive garden of corns, beans, peas, squash, tomatoes, onions, chives and leeks. It looks like a green bomb went off there, again amazing growth for both the trees and the garden (although the peas didn’t do so well)

I also planted a lone fig tree in the back yard under one of our old citrus trees. It is doing well, even though earlier it dropped its leaves, there is new growth coming along nicely. Hopefully the existing orange tree will make a good nurse tree for the fig.

The only other trees we have put in are along the western edge of the property and directly against the street. Those include 3 mesquite trees. Their purpose will be to shade the home and front yard from the extreme western sun. Our neighbor two doors up has some that have been in for over 10 years, so we were able to see what they will look like in the not distant future. The types of Mesquite planted are a cross between Velvet/Honey and one Screwbean. We will be collecting pods from these trees for milling someday.

So in addition to those 25 trees that went in this year, we also planted grape Vines. We are excited to think they will grow up to shade our backyard patio and provide us delicious grapes! The types planted include:

1. Crimson Seedless
2. Pearlette Seedless
3. Flame Seedless

Alright then, that’s enough for today. We are very lucky that every tree planted has survived so far. If you were keeping track – that was 27 new trees/vines that went into the ground this year. That does not includes the two existing Mimosa trees, 3 mature Grapefruit trees and 3 mature Orange Trees that also live here. We juiced about 15 gallons from those citrus trees this season and still haven’t quite finished with the oranges yet! Wow.

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Comment by Razi Berry-Tallman on November 17, 2008 at 10:31pm
how inspiring! How much land do you need to plant that many trees?

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