Trees are extremely important in sustainable agriculture. They pull nutrients from deep in the ground. As trees drop leaves/are pruned and the material composted and added to the garden it partially compensates for the surface nutrient loss from growing and harvesting annual food crops. Trees and perennials mimic mature the ecosystems of forests with understory plants. Once established a garden designed to mimic nature mostly takes care of itself.Of course trees take years to mature so planting them soon is a priority. So far we have four, a Hass avocado, a dwarf sweet lime, a dwarf Meyer lemon, and a Goji berry tree. The avocado tree may grow to thirty feet eventually. The lemon and goji will top out at eight to ten and the lime five or six.
Joining them next year will be Mission figs. We sprouted them from cuttings taken from ancient and hardy tree in Old Town. It is quite possible this tree is a close descendent of the figs planted at the original San Diego Mission. Whether or not this is true one thing is certain, the cuttings are vigorous. We expected only about half of the six cuttings to take but they all took. We only wanted two fig trees. One has found a home with a coworker, but that leaves three that still need adoption.
This first group of trees is planted on a slope on the north side of our back yard. To insure good drainage and efficient water use, I dug ditches between the trees so that watering the top most will in turn water the lower trees. I filled the ditches with broken tile saved from the living room. I plan to cover the tile filled drains and the entire area with mulch. Eventually this little grove will be watered by greywater from our laundry.
In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.
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