Alright! So we know how to deal with critters at our remote orchard. But what about water?
Now if you have water and power at the site, you’ve got it made. All you have to do is hook up the water to a timer based irrigation system, and run water lines (drip lines or soakers) to each tree. This isn’t hard to do and is pretty straight forward.
But I’m guessing that if you have water and power, you already know this, and you’re not worried about it.
If you missed those posts, be sure to read them.
Anyhow, let’s say you have a nice 20 acre plot with a gentle slope. Being the clever prepper that you are, you built your storage shed towards the top of the slope, and your orchard is towards the bottom of the slope.
And since you’re a clever prepper, you learned how to store rainwater from the article series I did, and you have a couple of rainwater barrels on the side of your storage shed collecting water when it rains.
Now set up your water lines (drop lines, soakers, etc) just like you would if you had full on water supply. Instead of using a grid power tie to power your timer, use a battery powered timer (should last you several months at least) to regulate the water flow.
The only real caveat is that if you use soaker hoses, they need about 10psi to operate correctly. So in order to get that pressure, your barrels have to be about 25 ft higher than the soaker hose. Shouldn’t be much of an issue unless you don’t have any real elevation.
So that’s part one. But as they say … Wait, There’s More!
See, your shed roof isn’t the only thing that captures rainwater. Every square inch of your ground does too. The trick is keeping it around longer. If you’re familiar with permaculture, this is nothing new to you. Go ahead and skip the rest of the post!
But if you’re not, or you’re just interested, keep reading.
There’s all sorts of things you can do to your land to keep water around. If you’re interested, go learn more about permaculture. But for your orchard, this is what you should do.
By the way, do this for every tree before you put your soaker hoses in.
First, take rocks or landscape bricks or something along those lines and make a good circle around each tree. Make a circle about 4 feet wide around your new tree. Or, if you’re lazy like me and you don’t want to do this again, make a circle as wide as your tree will get when it’s fully grown.
Rudy’s Note: For reference, dwarf trees will get about 8-10 feet wide, semi-dwarf trees reach 12-15 feet wide, and standard trees will end up 20 feet wide … or even more!
Then, get a bunch of mulch. I would personally use a mix of wood chips (not too many if you can help it), shredded leaves, sticks, and bark. Now mulch around the tree inside of your new circle. Your mulch should be 4″ deep. Definitely not deeper than 6″ or you’ll kill the tree.
Now, take your soaker hose and feed it around the trunk of your tree, burying it about an inch or two under the mulch. This helps prevent the water from evaporating when the water is on.
I suppose I should note that all of this should happen BEFORE you put in your critter controls. You may have to pull part of the hose depending on how you decide to deal with your critter problem.
At this point, you’re good to go. What this does is capture lots of water right above the tree roots. When you’re watering or if it rains the mulch soaks up that water then releases it slowly into the soil. This is good for your trees!