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I've wanted a place to share about my orchard for a long time now.  I've been doing this since about 2003, and have picked up a lot of information by trial and error over the years.  Perhaps it could be of use to someone else.  I have over 50 trees on about a half acre of SRP irrigated land in a Phoenix inner-city neighborhood--citrus, figs, stonefruits, apples, pomegranates, persimmons, pecans.  I'm not too good with the computer, so I'll just start now with a short post and see how this works out, while I invite you-all to "bear with me."

 

I'll start out by talking about my floor.  I use a cover crop of New Zealand White Clover.  I really like it.  I experimented with lots of potential cover crops--vetch, red clover, crimsom clover, wildflowers, tepary beans.  The New Zealand White won out (well, there's a lot of Mexican Evening Primrose in there too!).  It suppresses weeds, adds nitrogen and organic matter to the soil, conserves water and controls mud.  It also attracts bees and other pollinators.  I'm grateful for my clover now, since this is the time of year when it goes into a temporary decline.  It's over its spring bloom .and kind of dies back a bit until the monsoon comes through.  But it is very vigorous and will soon be back!

 

The downside to clover is that sometimes it keeps the soil too wet for some trees (such as young citrus).  Clover's shallow roots will also compete with citrus roots and young figs.  You've got to keep the clover pulled around these younger trees, but this isn't difficult.

 

It was very validating to me to pick up a book at the library about an organic market garden in Baja that serves the resorts in Cabo San Lucas.  The guys who managed that effort also used New Zealand White Clover.  I don't do too many vegetables at my orchard (other than asparagus) because I have to travel for work & can't keep up with vegetables.  But when I've tried, the clover has a tendency to be invasive.  I don't know how the guys in Baja handled that, except that, I suppose, they have more time and patience than I do.

 

Other hot topics for this time of year--early season fruit and bees.  But I'll try to write about those later.  12Jun11 

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Comment by Jane Doyle on September 19, 2011 at 2:02pm
You place seems so nice, Rob. Could your type of clover out-compete Bermuda grass? The thought of clover choking out all the Bermuda grass in my yard plus helping my fruit tree orchard is a lovely one to me.
Comment by Kristen on September 18, 2011 at 12:28pm
Your orchard sounds wonderful. I am intrigued by the clover... do you think that could be planted instead of a traditional (grass) lawn, for kids to play on, etc.?
Comment by phoenix cat lady on September 17, 2011 at 6:39pm

Hi,

I am the Garden Coordinator for the Orangewood Friendship Garden in Central Phoenix.  We will be starting an orchard in January.  All fruit will be donated to the Desert Mission Food Bank.  We would love to tour your garden to see what you have done with it.  Please contact me privately at phxcatlady@cox.net.  Any and all help is welcome. Bev

Comment by Elaine Finke on September 8, 2011 at 11:33am
Did you buy your clover seed online or did you find it locally?
Comment by Becky P on June 16, 2011 at 2:42pm
I've been thinking about using clover for a cover crop. It's nice to hear that someone else here has used it and had good results. Your orchard sounds wonderful!

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