Today we worked in the orchard, one of our best south facing fields. The orchard is full of various “forgotten” varieties of fruits and nuts. Because other varieties were more marketable, or the fruit itself is somewhat unusual, or for various other reasons many of these trees are rare. Unfortunately they were planted with property lines rather than the contour of the land in mind and so many of them have not fared well in the last few years as water and nutrients slough down the hillside. In the Permaculture class Fede completed in January, she learned about looking at the land and figuring out how best to plant in harmony with geography. So we decided to try out here .
The first step was building A-frames, a kind of plumb line structure made from bamboo that had broken or died in the water purification system that filters wastewater below the house. We started at the beginning of each row in the orchard and “walked” the A-frame along the hillside, finding the level points along a line extending across the hill and marking each spot with a bamboo stake. It was hot and tiring, though even as we sweat under the sun we remembered a few weeks ago that it had rained for months straight and this is the first dry spot. While we really want to keep the trees (and possible future crops) well-watered, we also are aware that with such steep hills the other danger is overly saturated fields that end up sliding. Everything in balance.