I have been interested in permaculture for a couple years now, and the permaculture methods of soil building, plant companions, and water-scaping drive my every move in my garden. Water-scaping in permaculture seeks to add more moisture into the ground from rain/snow, and involves several techniques to get the water into your soil for storage.
One method of water storage we will be investigating in the coming week is swales. Swales are small trenches made in just the right spot to divert run-off from your sprinklers, rain storms, snow melt, etc. into the ground, and not into your neighbors yard or into the storm drains. We have a side yard that we are building into a raised bed, using some free HUGE cottonwood half-rounds as a retaining wall, and will start project by building swales under the raised bed to make sure water is stored so we can use less drip-system irrigation.
We will cut our sprinkler system off to the side yard zone, and install a washing-machine grey water recycling box that will do the irrigation for us as we wash our clothes. The side yard will be planted with fruit trees & associated forest-garden rings, and vegetables.
We have a small improved Meyer lemon citrus tree that produced about 7-9 lemons for us last year. It is about 1 ft tall x 1ft wide. This year, we hope to get at least that much from our little tree. How do you grow lemons in the high desert? Well, glad you asked!
We repotted our lemon tree into a felt barrel, about 2ftx2ftx2ft in dimensions. We planted it with soil-less potting mix, per the felt barrel instructions. We mixed in lots of rabbit fertilizer, dried leaves, and humus. We put in a little fruit fertilizer & soil biotics as well to get it started growing again quick fast. Then, we positioned the barrel near our outdoor fountain in mostly sun. We planted beans to spill over the sides, as well as a few annuals.
The citrus barrel is positioned next to the house and fountain because they both insulate the citrus from occasional temps below 40' a this time a year. The evaporation off the fountain will also make the citrus grow better in the high desert.
Citrus does best if the temps do not fall below 40' at night, and will die if frozen. We over-winter indoors next to the slider.