How Many Gallons of Water Per Tree, Per Week?
I am planning on planting nine (9) fruit trees in my backyard, but I'm worried about what the water bill is going to look like if I do.
My plan to conserve would be to put in a drip system and time it to run at night... but I'm not sure how many gallons each tree is going to need per week. I know this is going to depend on each type of tree planted, but I'm not sure which varieties I want yet.
Do any of you know of any resources that outline that kind of information for fruit trees in Phoenix?
I was able to get a lot of good information about fruit trees in the different regions of Arizona from this website: http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/fruit/index.html
As far as the kinds of trees, I'm thinking along these lines:
Also, I was hoping for some nut trees. What nut trees grow in the Phoenix area?
For food production, you want to keep the south completely open of any large vegetation or structures. In the winter the sun is really low & shadows are cast northward. If your growing food, you don't want a shadow cast on your garden beds. You also want this winter sun to penetrate into your house through the windows that are South facing. This will passively heat your house. Vegetation, or structures that are placed in the South, should not block out winter sun from penetrating the windows. You can use the formula above to figure out what the shadow will be for anything. We want shade on the east & west sides of our house. All basins should be 8ft-10ft away from the building, this way your foundation will stay intact. Sometimes this is done with greywater basins that have fruit trees. When you don't have space for a fruit tree on the east or west side of the house, you can do a trellis with self-watering containers or potted plants that are growing out vines. This is basically a solar arc. You make an arc that forms a elongated U around your entire property. You can draw right angles on the south facing edges of your house & at the 45 degree of the right angle, draw a line that extends to the end of your property.
You would start the arc at one end point & bring it around to the other end. This is where you can plant your tree's. Along this line. That way you can take the max advantage of the winter sun & at the same time block out our harsh summer sun. It will basically help you know what can fit in there shadow, sun, & water wise. Chicken coops do really well under Mesquite, Palo Verde, or Acacia tree's for example. You can start playing around with different design elements, their functions, how to stack them, & have each one support another.
For any tree the basin should be as big (in diameter) as that tree's mature canopy. You can plant other things in your basin & build a guild. A lot of folks like to plant the Mexican Nopal in fruit tree greywater basins (not native to AZ, medium water use plant, it has edible pads, and also fruits). For example you can use them to create a microclimate for tender tree's like citrus that will die if they freeze or as a fire break (their evergreen & succulents).
Cisterns are also used for irrigating fruit trees, because you know, there is only so much laundry to do. If you want more fruit trees than your greywater budget allows, then cisterns help us afford another tree, they bring our water budget up. Cisterns can be connected to drip, but it can be expensive for pumps & other logistics. Water harvesting basins are also a must for a fruit tree. When it rains you shouldn't have to water your fruit trees, or anything else really.
I was thinking graywater may be my best bet, but I still need to come up with a design for my yard and re-grade it. There are some complicating factors in my yard that I need to plan around.
You know, my backyard faces north, east, and south and I was planning on planting trees around all perimeters to shade the house and yard, but now that you mention it, maybe that would end up being a bad thing for a vegetable garden. I don't even know what wall I should put that against yet. Is there any particular wall a garden should be against in Arizona (like making sure your garden gets light from the east or something)?
Also, I haven't looked at those links yet, but do you know if they address using a drip irrigation system from graywater?
As far as apples go, I actually just went to someone's house and picked some - Anna apples do well here. :) I even have a coworker who grew giant blackberries, which I find crazy...
I will definitely look into the native plants too, it sounds like they have a lot to offer (and I sure love *****ly pear fruit!).
For our climate establishing a water budget is pretty critical. Especially if you want your site to be somewhat sustainable. You want to stay within your resources basically. It's one of the first things I do when someone hires me to develop a permaculture design for their site. Your Laundry & Shower greywater can sustain an orchard, the size depends on how much you all have to work with.
Here is a link to help you do this:
In Volume II Brad has an appendix that helps you figure out how many gallons per year a fruit tree or a cacti will need in order to thrive. I know off the top of my head that a citrus tree will take 9,000 gallons of water per year. The low water use Peaches, Pears, Pomegranates will take around 6,000 gallons of water per year. The low water use varieties are the heirloom family/mission orchards that the Spaniards established here. They've become somewhat adapted to our climate & produce well here. I don't think Phoenix gets cold enough for apples, but you may want to see if anyone is growing them & how they're doing it. They definitely will take tons of water. I know you can grow Plums in Southern AZ, but I think it may be too hot for them in Phoenix.
Brad also has a greywater section in Volume II, but this is the greywater bible: http://oasisdesign.net/
I would also encourage you to not forget our native plants that provide us with tons of fruit with only a couple of inches of rain per year. Prickly Pear, Saguaro, Buckthorn Cholla, Wolfberry, Desert Hackberry, & Organ Pipe Cactus. Mesquite tree's are a hardy source of gourmet grain. Ironwood, Palo Verde, & Acacia's provide us with edible legumes when we harvest the bean pods they produce. You won't have to water any of these if you place them in a rainwater harvesting earthwork & water them to get established. After 4-5 years you can completely cut them off of supplemental irrigation. No more work, just harvesting them when their ready.