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Garden Walls, Windscreen, and Microclimate

OK, I seem to be getting the hang of the blog system now.


I told you about my garden floor, so before I get into talking about what I've learned about fruit trees, I'll tell you first about the garden walls.


The Property is in the inner city, on a narrow deep lot--about 75' in width about about 350' in depth.  I have neighbors!


When I got the property, in 2002, it was just a bare dusty patch of dirt, practically open on two sides.


To the South, I had about 75' fronting on an alley.  Back then the neighborhood was much rougher than it is now.  The alley was kind of an open-air crackhouse and brothel.  I needed a security barrier and something to break the hot dry wind from the south.  I built a wall.  I then collected seed from my favorite palo verde tree in Tucson, cracked the seeds slightly in a mortar, and germinated them directly in the ground.  It took awhile, but they eventually formed a colorful screen and security barrier.

To the West was an LDS family.  They were fairly friendly, although the patriarch, who was in his 80s, would always pull the water gate about 20 minutes early if you didn't watch him. He's since passed, and the property went intestate to the various heirs, who seem to tolerate each other, perhaps some with some self-medication.  The property boundary was delineated by a thick hedge of overgrown oleanders.  I know most gardeners hate them, but, after about a week of pruning, I was grateful for the shelter they provided from the afternoon sun and hot winds.  In front of the oleaders I planted seeds from my favorite acacia and mesquite trees in Tucson, again, breaking their hard shells in a morter.  6' in one year; 15' in 2! 

My neighbors to the East were the descendants of an LDS pioneer family who had settled the neighborhood, and even kept a cow on the property during the Great Depression.  Only a 3' high wire fence separated our properties.  The prior generation had originally owned the entire acre, then subdivided some 50+ years ago to create my lot.  Before they did so, they planted some beautiful pecan trees on my property, one survives majestically.  But they were also problematic.  They felt that they had a right to most of my SRP allocation ("We've always used that water, and its never been an issue").  They seemed very threatened, but they were about 14 people crammed into a small house without air conditioning, so this was perhaps understandable.  One asked me to "Please, don't rent the house to [ethnic designation].  I work with them in [government program], and I know how they are."  (Alas, I am from a multi-racial family, that includes that ethnicity.)  Their yard was strewn with old rusty appliances and cars.  I had to create an environmental barrier on several fronts.  To stop the wind, I planted mesquites from seed.  For privacy, I planted this great plant, Atriplex lentiformis (Quail Bush).  It's a rapidly growing screen, and uses almost no water.  (BTW, in the past several years, their approach to life seems to have changed, and they're now planting fruit trees and gardens on their property, and have hauled away most of the blight.)


Taken together, these barriers seem to protect the property from the prevailing hot, dry winds.  They also provide some visual screening and security.  What I didn't anticipate is that they provide bee and bird habitat as well.  For fruit growers, bird habitat isn't always a good thing, but more on that at a later date . . . . .



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Comment by Heather T on June 16, 2011 at 10:41pm

Will you consider hosting a tour of your orchard?  Perhaps to coincide with a fruit harvest you could use help with?

Comment by Becky P on June 16, 2011 at 2:44pm
lOL!  Love the descriptions of your neighbors. Pictures would be nice.
Comment by Judy Babcock on June 15, 2011 at 6:31am
What a wonderful way to create borders and encourage the neighbors to get with the program.  Do you have pictures?

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