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Posts: 75
Reply with quote  #1 
According to the local tv weather reporters in Albuquerque (25 miles north of me), this has been our second warmest October on record with zero nights lower than 40 F and most days in the mid 70s to low 80s. The record warmest  October was in 1950.  Our average first day of frost is usually by 30 Oct but here it is, after 10 p.m. on Halloween eve, 31 Oct, and it's plus 60 F outside.  

Unfortunately, our drought continues along with the just past gorgeous, not too hot, summer.  The annual monsoon was a bust this year with only a few showers and just two really good rains.  Normal annual rainfall here is about 10 inches and 75% or more of that comes with the summer, late June through late August monsoon.  This year's summer rains were only a scant 3 to 4 inches in my area so it is dry, dry, dry and has been for more than four years now.  Anyway, my okra and tomato plants are still blooming and producing pods and tomatoes this late in the season.  Wow!  

Instead of the usual garden, I've gone to rows of earth boxes right outside my front door for table treats, okra, tomatoes, melons, beans, peas, peppers, etc.  Only takes a few minutes every day or two to top up the boxes with a garden hose.  Just input water through the top filler tube until it runs out the lower side output and that's it.  Also fewer bugs and no weeds.

The daughter and I did start installing an orchard on the 3.5 acres directly south of my house earlier tghus yea.  So far, have 20 apple trees in. They are thriving and we're ready to plant up to 50 pecan trees during Jan 17. I'm watering the apple trees with a product called 'Tree IV' and will expand that system to the pecan trees.  The Tree IV system is five gallon buckets set over a perforated stake driven into the ground next to each tree.  I fill the buckets weekly with a long garden hose fed by a solar powered well.  Takes about a half hour or so to fill all 20 buckets.  I do that every Tuesday so I'll be out there in the morning as soon as the sun hits the well solar panel. Bottom line is that I'm using only 100 gallons of water per week for 20 trees.  That beats drip irrigation and for sure beats ditch irrigation for minimal water use.  Eventually, I'll set up a 100 gallon or larger water tank and dispenser nozzle on my tractor's front loader so I won't have to drag hose out to 500 feet or more for the more distant trees. The tree IV system sure makes it easy to farm in the desert so far.  However, as the trees mature, the single buckets will become two or three set at the drip line of each tree so water usage will increase quite a bit and so will the time/effort required for the weekly fill of a lot more buckets.  Ah well, necessity is the mother of invention so that's when I'll figure out ways to automate and simplify.        
I'm lucky to have my new deep (220') well that's down into the enormous Rio Grande aquifer that is virtually inexhaustible and right under my feet.  NM even though mostly desert has several vast aquifers, some with many cubic miles of water.  Weird, no?  




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Posts: 1,067
Reply with quote  #2 
Originally Posted by GOM
... I'm watering the apple trees with a product called 'Tree IV' and will expand that system to the pecan trees.  The Tree IV system is five gallon buckets set over a perforated stake driven into the ground next to each tree. 

That's interesting. I've seen the smaller version for tomato plants where the spikes screw onto soda bottles.

..I'm lucky to have my new deep (220') well that's down into the enormous Rio Grande aquifer that is virtually inexhaustible and right under my feet.

Unfortunately aquifers are not inexhaustible as folks in California and elsewhere are finding out.

Both temperature rise and airflow are integral to comparing hot air collectors
Old McDonald

Posts: 66
Reply with quote  #3 
GOM, I think I have told you before that I enjoy reading these posts of yours, even if they are only remotely connected with solar power.

Your biggest problem is that 5 US gallons is nowhere near sufficient for any tree. Nor is the IV system satisfactory to supply the needs of a tree. Water applied to a dry soil infiltrates in a more or less conical shape from the point of application -be that an IV system or a dripper. Obviosuly sprinklers, cannons, mobile irrigators etc are applying water over a bigger area, but the IV or a dripper system is localised. At say, two feet from the tree, the water released from a five gallon bucket is not going to reach the root zone even alongside the tree trunk. North Africa, places like Tunisia and Morocco appear to have similar climatic conditions to yourself, and I am aware that drip irrigation there (4L/hr applied for 4 hours = 16 litres) gives a wetting depth of about half a metre (20" roughly) with a max spread of 70cms (say two and a half feet). The roots of your trees are not going to grow into the unwetted areas, so you will be restricting the growth of your trees.

You need to do a bit of research into the water requirements on a daily basis of the trees you already have, and those you would like to plant. I undestand that pecan trees grow very tall (so have to have a root system with a big enough spread to allow the trees to withstand being blown over) and need a lot of water to keep them going.   

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Posts: 2,320
Reply with quote  #4 

The spread and depth of the water will depend greatly on the makeup of the soil. Heavy, clay soils will be slower and shallower to penetrate. While light, sandy soils will penetrate fast and deep, but dry out very quickly. I agree 5 gallons would likely be far too little for most trees, except small varieties or saplings. If you do water with a bucket, consider adding a drip ring, which will spread the cone OM mentioned. Or perhaps look at polyethylene barrels, which can be found cheaply in 30-55 gallons sizes. The larger barrels would be very useful should there be a drought. Another thought with a barrel would be to drive some hollow tubes or pipes down into the ground. The weight of the water above ground should be enough to push water far deeper into the ground directly to the root area.

Greg in MN

Posts: 75
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks, Guys,   However, my apple trees are all small saplings from 3 to 4 feet high.  They seem to be doing nicely on the five gallons weekly provided by the Tree IV buckets.  Why?  Most likely due to the soil makeup in my area which consists of 12 to 18 inches of pretty good, long farmed topsoil and then 'caliche' below that.  I use a 12 inch diameter auger on my tractor to drill an about 3.5 foot deep hole for each young tree.  The hole is then 'padded' in the bottom with commercial soil and assorted compost which I provide to a depth of about one foot.  The tree and its root 'ball' is then placed in the hole and the tree's depth properly adjusted.  The hole is then filled and tamped, the bucket is installed,  and the area, for 4 feet or so, heavily mulched with rotten hay.  Local wisdom, from the families of farmers who have been here for 300 years or so, tell me this is the way to go.  The caliche (super hard clay, the kind from which adobe bricks are made) is slowly penetrated by the young tree's roots, thus the young trees thrive on minimal water for 2 or 3 years.  When the trees do increase in size so they begin to have a 'drip line,' the single IV bucket then becomes three or even four of them at the drip line.  

Don't forget, unchecked plant roots can and do break up concrete, asphalt paving, and so on.  Nothing humans construct can withstand the growth of vegetation over time Which I guess is why the tree roots eventually penetrate the caliche and spread out and down into it.  I know it is a very rare thing for any tree to be wind toppled in this area because, once they start to mature, they are anchored in a substance very similar to concrete but which is still nutrient rich.  The locals have learned to deal with these soil conditions for hundreds of years and I'm just following their lead.

As for the Rio Grande aquifer being 'inexhaustible,' I said that because it is replenished every year by the melting snows from the Rockies in northern NM and southern Colorado.  This is a slowly north to south living and flowing underground aquifer which has been 'doing its thing' for thousands of years and the state carefully regulates how much water can be taken from it anywhere along its length.  

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