We would like to put some food-producing plants in our front yard (faces south). Throughout the year, the space receives full sun from around noon on through the afternoon. Any suggestions?
pomagranate or fig will both take full sun
In addition to what karis said, citrus, mesquite, persimmon, blackberry, peach trees seem to do well and while not often considered a full sun critter, I've noticed bananas seem to do really, really well no matter where they are located next to a home in Phoenix.
I would avoid persimmon. Contrary to what is said, the leaves burn in full sun here. I have two Fuyus and both are heavily shaded now in the summer.
Mulberry, fig, pomegranates, jujubes, and some citrus would be my choices. I'm very anti-mulberry since I (and a lot of other people here in Phoenix) are allergic to them.
Bananas need some babying since they always tend to set fruit right when it frosts... They look great, but they just don't really produce here.
Are you interested in only Trees/Shrubs? The suggests everyone made are good, but you could also put in some corn, beans, cucumbers, sugar peas etc. South is really a good exposure just because it gets sun all year so you can go with seasonal produce.
I picked up some Tepary beans at the seed exchange today and I have been reading about them online. They are apparently very heat, drought and salt tolerant. they can be dry farmed meaning they can survive and produce a crop with just one irrigation or rain, but produce even more with a little supplemental water. Thought this sounded like a plant that might work for a hot, sunny area like yours!
I am also going to try tepary beans. I hope you also saw the reference to their typical planting time is generally 'timed' to coincide with the start of the monsoon, so you do not want to plant them too early.
I am also going to try soy beans again this year - tried them 2 years ago, but got side tracked with family issues, so I could not pay attention to them. The soy beans like our late spring to early summer planting time.
Fennel. Mine is starting to grow through the rocks and I am not even watering it. Beware, Fennel attracts aphids, that attract ladybugs, so it evens out.
Thank you all for your great suggestions! In talking with my husband, we've decided to focus on the entire yard rather than just this one area. So, we're interested in hiring a landscape designer (or something along those lines) who has permaculture/biodynamics experience. Any recommendations? (I'm going to create a new post for this.)