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