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What are you doing around your fruit trees to reduce future work and costs

Posts: 649
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
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I am working toward completing a small fruit tree orchard where the maximum height will be kept under 12 ft.  I m hoping that eventually the trees will slow their upward growth.

Much of my fruit has few disease and bug pests (not native or natural).  I am growing Asian Persimmons, Goji, Jujube, Goumi (soon to graft on Elaeagnus), muscadine  and Pawpaw.   I am not sure on my Kiwi (Hardy and Fuzzy).

I have a series of valve boxes that can be used to control above ground hoses so I do not leave a hose running all night (done this), which will come in handy during dry spells.  After a tree is 3 + years they should be good with the relatively high water table but now that wood chips are down I will reduce this to 2 years.  Right now I use above ground drip irrigation for new plants.

But I would like suggestions/advice/ideas on:

My Pluots, Plums, Asian Pears and bunch grapes are something that requires attaining knowledge of organic controls.  I recently learned of JADAM for sulfur spray and may pursue this further but want to learn on other environmentally safe but proven methods.  Sourcing some of the chemicals for JADAM is a problem.  Sulfur I can get at 90% which is okay but caustic soda in bulk?  I have the brown rock dust minerals and sea-90.

I and will soon investigate fruit tree guilds and need to know how close to tree to plant, what combinations compliment each other and self seed or are perennial.  I recently started root propqgation of 100 Comfrey plants that I got through Permies.

I want to add perennial under-story perennial plants (Fruits, Vegetables, Pollinators).  I am also interested learning more about beneficial weeds that grow here in North Alabama (Zone 7B).

I put down a thick layer of wood chips to stop grasses and weeds but eventually want to do a cover crop.  I can do this a few more times but if I do the under story plants and guilds it will become harder to do and would be limited to wheelbarrow which gets harder as I get older.  I could get a very small tractor with loader (if needed) for chips but then I need to repeat all the plantings. Chips are downhill from backyard orchard.

I would like to see what other Permies have done or are doing that will make their efforts self sustaining.  What have you done and what can I implement/experiment with for use in the next several years?

Thanks for the all help.

Posts: 79
Location: Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (7b)
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I think with a good perennial ground cover like strawberries, and some support plants like nitrogen fixers - comfrey - and pollinators and pest control - chives and echinacea for example, you should have very little maintenance to do. The mulching could be as easy as allowing the strawberries to take over, and every few months chopping and dropping some comfrey!

I’ve planted chives, strawberries and arugula (self-seeding pollinator) in my fruit tree guilds, and mulched heavily with wood chips and seaweed last summer. There have been very few weeds at all this year, nothing can get a good footing due to the strawberries shading everything out, and the chives expanding in large clumps, and arugula reseeding in all the gaps!

I know there are endless combinations to work with if you search “companion planting” or “fruit tree guilds”.

Let us know what you decide to go with!
Posts: 11802
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'm planting support legume shrubs around my trees for eventual chop and drop, and pruning the fruit trees to be small enough for me to pick from the ground.

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