Can You Grow Fruit in the Desert?

Sunever Farms

Our apple tree (more pics on Tumblr)

Before we bid on the farm we did some research into what it might take to get a production orchard up and running in the desert (i.e. are we crazy to even try this!!??).

We stuck a dwarf apple tree in the ground last year to see what would happen. And after not too much effort (i.e. no soil amendment, weekly watering in winter/daily watering in summer) he’s successfully produced about 10 apples.

We also found tons of interesting resources that gave us confidence (some of the best below, as well as a few other resources from the link database we’ve started).

We also renewed our commitment to planting natives and low-water use plants that are known to do well in the desert; and to using permaculture and other place-based techniques.

So… onward.

Star Nursery (Las Vegas) – Fruit Trees for Desert Climates

“Deciduous fruit trees do surprisingly well here in the desert…” An invaluable resource for tree types, chill hours, pruning and trouble-shooting.

Xeriscape (low/no water) Tree List

A list for the Phoenix area which applies to here. See also The Xeric Zone for general info on Xeriscaping.

“Lush & Efficient” Desert Tree List

A database of trees you’ll find in the desert.

How to Green the World’s Deserts

TED Talk on reversing “desertification” and combating climate change.

Permaculture Activist – Nursery List

Nursery sources for edible and useful plants.

Las Pilitas Nursery – 100% California Native Plants

The gold standard for native reparation. Use their tool to find plants for your exact condition (CA residents only).

Theodore Payne Foundation

Native plant list and resources, including answers to questions like: “What does drought tolerant mean?”

Mojave Desert Ecosystem

A deep-dive into elements of the Joshua Tree National Park ecosystem.

Backyard Orchard Culture

Info on a growing technique using high density planting and successive ripening.

Medicinal Plants of the Southwest

Database from a program funded by the National Institute of Health.

Gardening Without Irrigation

How to grow it with less irrigation: A – Z.

The Greenhorn’s Field Guide for Beginning Farmers

Created to provide young farmers, apprentices, and others with the resources necessary to begin farming or to expand their practice.

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