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Thought I would start a new topic to explore the idea of building soil. I was listening to the radio on Saturday and heard Chris Perry on talkback gardening explaining how important it is to get fruit and nut trees off to a good start and what could be expected in the first three years (if you get it right) The thing I noticed is that he didnâ€™t talk about the "near death phase" that I see when I plant anything. It got me thinking that the conventional idea of planting garden trees (find a clear space, dig a hole, adding fertilizer then mixing compost with the earth, plant the tree, water it in and add mulch over the top) just wonâ€™t cut the mustard in soils that spend a good portion of the year dry and without plants growing. The soil seems to go into a death spiral, ends up nonwetting or the water just runs straight through and takes all the nutrients with it and is bone dry 4 hours after a good soaking. What I thought I would do is this. I am going to pick out some areas for tree planting in the next three years(2014-16), install the watering systems now and see if I can build four inches of good quality living topsoil by simply gardening on it before the trees go in (and perhaps afterwards as well). I'm open to opinions, theories, techniques and criticism. Although I would prefer examples of evidence based innovation and trial and error rather than vague anecdote's of failure and sweeping statements of impending doom. I'm getting plenty of that in person. I have trialed a couple of things in the last few months, saved some plants I thought were going to die and had some encouraging results but nothing that looks remotely like a layer of new topsoil yet.