I went home to Santa Barbara this past weekend and planted a very stressed white sapote. This food forest is in its second year. After planting it, no one took care of it (aside from turning on the drip system in the summer) for an entire year. When I returned some plants were definitely stressed, some had probably died. But that's pretty good considering that the rule of thumb is to spend three years continuous maintenance establishing a site.
So on to year two:
Zone: Sunset-24, USDA-10
Soil on site: Clay
Average annual rainfall: 15 inches
Supplemental water (irrigation): Of course! unfortunately
A month ago (January 15th) I cast some insectory seed mix and some california native flower mix. The cover crop plants in the photos are all self-sowed from last years lack of maintenance. Some very tiny seedlings from the native mix were noticeable at close examination.
Upon arriving the first thing I noticed was that some escaping, rampant mow-blow-and-go gardeners had weed-wacked the entire hillside. (Right in the middle of the rainy season too!) I wasn't too mad though, since most plants were cover crops. The occasional volunteer specimen got destroyed though. I didn't assess drip-line damage, which is likely.
Before beginning the day's project. The "before" of the before and after. This project highlights a technique I have used for planting trees: Holes are dug in the ground at varying distances. The first hole receives organic material for compost. Every couple weeks the mix is turned and transferred to the next hole. A tree is planted in the previous hole to take advantage of the already composted, left-behind organic matter. This process continues down the line until the composting process is complete. Then the new compost is spread evenly for all the trees.
A hole I dug one month prior with a little bit of compost at the bottom (decomposed kitchen scraps and cedar bark). This hole is just to the left of a compost pile which is disguised with a clay layer over it.
Dug out the compost and some debris from the hole.
Transferred the contents of the compost pile (turning in the process) to the new hole.
The "after" picture. Contrary to typical tree-planting I mounded this one because white sapotes need good drainage. Notice the yellow leaves. White sapote will go deciduous in drought, so hopefully it will perk back up in a month. Reason for its condition: sat in a pot for one month with little to no water. When the compost decomposes I will plant a pineapple in that spot.
Some other views of the yard. Notice Pomegranate, orange, black mission fig, avocado, apple, bananas, feijoas, grapefruit, passionfruit, Albizia julibrissin and weeping mulberry all on this hillside.
Pictures of the same area from one year ago.