Picture of desert landscape
My Future Growcery Store

We have observed our property for a year, our house is being built, and we are finally ready to start our first garden here! This is the project I have been waiting for!

I have spent the last year researching desert gardening methods as well as general gardening methods. My garden plan incorporates methods from 4 main sources:

Picture of book covers for "The Intelligent Gardener" and "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Vol 2"

Key Ideas From David The Good

  • Core structure is a well-spaced orchard
  • Incorporate trees, shrubs, perennial and annual plants in rows
  • Create diverse polyculture in space-efficient design
  • Prune trees to size and shape appropriate for the space
  • Keep ground planted, even if it is just a cover crop
  • Include plants for pollinators, beneficial predators, biomass, cover crops, soil building, and food

Key Ideas From Brad Lancaster

  • Create basins to slow water flow across land and encourage it to sink in
  • Mulch and plant roots encourage water to wick into soil for storage
  • Many small systems are better than fewer larger ones
  • Elevate plants in bottom of basin if needed to prevent water damage
  • Install perforated pipe vertically for deep watering trees

Key Ideas From Steve Solomon

  • Nutrient dense food comes from properly balanced soils
  • Conduct soil testing to develop customized soil fertilization and amendment program
  • No “one size fits all” solution for remineralizing soil

Key Ideas From Eric Toensmieier

  • Evaluate your desired plant list to make sure you cover all needed uses and functions, i.e. vines, ground cover, pollinator attractors, nitrogen fixers, pest control, etc
  • Explore plant superorders for similar plants that could work in your area
  • Experiment with different plants and don’t be afraid to fail
  • Consider how trees and plants in an area can support each other

My Growcery Store Garden Plan

My goals for this garden are:

  • Diverse polyculture of nutrient dense fruits and vegetables
  • Year-round food production
  • Accomodate my physical limitations
  • Abundance of food in limited fenced area
  • Create a healthy ecosystem
  • Restore fertility to the soil
  • Harvest rainwater to water the garden and replenish the aquifer
  • Ability to grow trees and plants suited to growing zone 9

To create my plan, I used the information I gathered over the last year (detailed in this blog post) and blended the ideas from the 4 experts. This is my first permaculture-style garden – I am a total beginner in this. I have no idea if how I am blending all these ideas is good or if I am making rookie mistakes.

The overarching plan is to combine grocery row gardening with infiltration basins. The grocery row beds will be raised above the basin bottom so they don’t sit in water harvested during heavy rains.

The garden beds will also have an irrigation system. It will be a combination of deep-watering for the trees and shrubs, drip tape for the full bed, and wobblers on step-in fence posts to water the entire area as needed.

The graphic below shows the general layout for my growcery store. The beds with the fruit trees will also be planted with perennial shrubs, flowers, and vines and with annual plants and flowers.

Graphic showing side view of garden layout

Next Steps

Now that I have the basic design plan for my growcery store, I need to create a detailed perennial plant list. I will be evaluating the plants I want to determine what gaps in function I have and finding plants that fit my goals and fill my needs. After I have chosen all the plants, I will design the row layout. I look forward to sharing these results in a future post.

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