|Desert soil typical of the Las Vegas valley with caliche|
This is their second year of growth. The soil is classified as a sandy loam but hard as concrete because it lacked soil organic matter. The pH of the soil was right around 8. The salinity of the soil was over 40 mmhos or dS/m. Boron levels varied but about 8 ppm on an average. This soil was about as bad as any soil can get and still grow something. This is very typical of raw desert soils in the Las Vegas Valley.
|Wood mulch in the orchard and improved soils|
How it was done
Trees were planted in late January into the basins and watered in as they were backfilled with amended soil. A starter fertilizer, about three pounds of 16-20-0, was mixed with the backfill at the time of planting. All trees were watered thoroughly as they were being planted to remove air pockets. Trees were staked and rabbit protection was provided to the trunks as either paper guards or wire screening. A basin was constructed around each tree and included the 2 gpm bubbler. Basins were about four feet wide.
|Soil under mulch after three years of tree growth and irrigations|
Finally a coarse wood mulch, coming from freshly chipped landscape trees in the valley, was applied to a depth of four inches in the basin of half of the trees. Orchard aisles were also covered in wood mulch between trees that were mulched. The trees grew for one complete season with and without wood mulch. This picture was taken two months into the growing season of the second year.