can anyone reccomend a book or site? I have been told that organic orchards can be pretty tricky adn not for the feint of heart for fruit tree newbies and if we don't end up with a place that already has an orchard then we will certainly have a place to plant one and/or will likely expandit and I want to address any issues of course before planting.
I'm already thinking it would be good to have a more scattered approach to help confound pests and disease, rather than a traditional row set up. getting them producing asap is on the list as well as getting appropriate varieties.....and is grafting the going to be my best bet for this?
I know plants in general are more resistant to everything if they are in a healthy enviroment, but I also know that most modern varieties have been cultivated under less than natural circumstances. are there any oldie but goodie varieties still out there for things such as apple, cherry, peach, plum? I'm keeping my fingers crossed on the soil. we made an offer on a place today that had at least 5 acres of good deep soil and already had at least 7-8 fruit trees of some kind ranging from nectarines to apple supposedly. several looked pretty butchered though, as if they had been cut to a stump and regrown. a first order of business if we get the place is to get some "fresh" fruit trees in the ground along with berries of different sorts and asparagus.
One of the main advantages of the 'new' fruit trees vs the old ones is disease resistance. Since you would have money and time invested in your fruit trees, getting disease-resistant ones grown locally might be your best bet, over and above going for 'old' varieties.
I hadn't thought of it quite like that sue. that does make senses. When I think about it my experience with tomato plants should have taught me that lesson. the year I planted heirloom varieties was my worst year ever. I swore up and down that those pathetic diseased heirloom plants brought destruction to some of the other varieties I ahd planted also by inccreasing the concenrations of pathogens and pests in the garden area. I have to acknowledge it could have been coincidence though. I heard of several people including some of the local produce and truck farms having problems with curly top disease spread by white flies that year which is what destroyed my harvest to a large extent. I think that was in 2004......
When I was reading up on the Carrot Rust Fly problem, there were some studies by WSU on growing carrots organically, and covering some with Reemay and some were uncovered, and some work with predatory beetles of the CRF. They did it for two years, but they said they didn't see much differences between the experiments and the control beds because they were years when CRF was low.
I had read where both pests and weeds will do better under the existing conditions of some years, and not in other years. Plant growth changes (you've read about scientists reading tree rings) differ from year to year, so other things probably do, also. And I've noticed it myself. Some years are bad aphid years, some years are bad tomato years. Some years I've planted my tomatoes too close together and had problems; some years I've planted them farther apart and didn't mulch them and they were always water-stressed. Last summer was an exceptionally poor growing year for me.
Grow and learn. By the time I'm 138, maybe I'll be getting most of it right.
We have made some good mistakes growing apple trees Permie style: We can tell you more what not to do more than what to do:
We have not been able to grow the apples (fruit) successfully in a forest setting. The trees grow but produce no fruit. The trees themselves have not been very healthy. We grew some on the edge of a shelter belt, this did not work because they grew too slowly as they are grafted trees. This meant that they were quickly shaded out by the other trees such as nut trees.
The best results we have had so far is growing them on an earthworked terrace system. By digging channels which filled from the pond terracing the banks then planting fruit trees on the south facing banks. The link below is to my Multiply site, go back to the very start of the pictures to see the process. We live in the North East of England. The terrace system works well in our area because we suspect that drainage is a major issue in growing healthy trees. The drainage feature may not be an advantage in the area you live in. The terraces are creating some kind of microclimate, this natural protection from frost may be a contributing factor (?) in producing healthier, fruit bearing trees. We have not used any chemicals, nor even pruned as part of the overall strategy. Fukuoka in his book The Natural Way of Farming suggests that pruning should be kept to a minimum. The problem is that it is a graft so it is not a real tree which means it may HAVE to be pruned.
The problems with growing on an earthworked terrace system are mainly that we planted them too close together. The difficulty here is that if you plant them too far apart, they don't seem to thrive at all. Interesting to hear how you get on, keep us posted.