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Need help with mini fruit tree forest idea please!

 
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Hello, I am new to this forum and a newbie to things permaculture, but I have been watching tons of videos on it the last 6 months or so. I have an idea to make a small fruit tree forest in the back-right section (it is marked off with the blue lines) of my backyard and I want to put apple or peach, or both types together if possible, in this corner section. I would also like a good tree guild or mini food forest type built with these trees. With the attached picture you can see the amount of space I want to work with, what size trees should I plant (dwarf, semi dwarf or full size) and how many in this area? I’ve seen on pictures that dwarf trees are really small, I would also like to be able to walk under the trees when they get fully grown.

Also do I need 2 of apple and 2 of peaches for cross pollination? Is this a feasible idea all together? I’m also open to suggestions for better ideas. The reason I am choosing one section of the yard for a mini food forest is I still want an open lawn but get my food forest fix in haha. One of these days when I move and buy a property with a bit more land then will I go all out.

Thanks for the input.

 
master pollinator
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Michael Flemming wrote: do I need 2 of apple and 2 of peaches for cross pollination?



You can graft pollinating varieties onto the one tree.  I have one apple tree with a couple other varieties grafted on.  This was my first attempt at grafting apples.  

You can also plant multiple varieties close together and keep them small by pruning.  I would plant standard varieties because they are the strongest, and just prune them a lot.



 
garden master
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Sounds like a great plan Michael!

Most peaches are self fertile and don't need another tree, and most apples are not self fertile, but some are.

Both should benefit from another variety nearby though with usually better pollination and fruit set.

Some varieties don't pollinate others, which you could research more once you decided which varieties to plant.

I saw this thread a while back about self fertile apple varieties that could be a starting point to find some of those varieties if you're interested in them, and usually where you buy your tree from can verify if they're self fertile. The self fertile varieties tend to be good pollinators in general which is a nice bonus!

Self Fertile Apples

Good luck with your new food forest!
 
steward
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I suspect that you might have a healthy number of neighbors nearby?  If so, there's a very good chance someone else has an apple or crab apple that will pollinate your apples.  So I'd only plant multiples if you want to, not because you have to.  

I'm thinking semi dwarf would be more your style if you want to walk under them.  I'm assuming North is up and you're in the northern hemisphere.  I'm guessing you could put them about 12-15' apart so if you had two trees they could cover the east edge of your plot or the south edge, towards the west end.  At first blush I'd put them in that second location (SW corner and south center).  Then you'd have shade in the west half of the block and sun on the east half.  So you could fit some partial shade loving berries/herbsnuts on the west (currants, gooseberries, hazelnuts, pawpaw) and sun loving stuff on the east.

If there's room to put the fruit trees along the E/W centerline of the block (depending on the shade from the trees to the north), that would leave more room for plants to the south of them.



 
Michael Flemming
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Thanks for the replies with everyone's valuable information! I guess i should of put on the picture the North south west and east directions. Here is a updated picture showing that. also i live in the Midwest of the united states right on the line between zone 5 and zone 6.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
steward
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Hmm, that makes it a bit more challenging.  So those big trees are to the south and southeast...  How much of that area does their shadow cover for the middle of the day?  Fruit trees would probably do best on the west edge of your proposed plot.

Any chance you could move your food forest location to be between the house and the small building at the bottom of the photo?
 
pollinator
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I like your fruit forest idea. Except for the house and vegetable gardens, my whole lot is a fruit and nut orchard.

I started with dwarf fruit trees. I don’t think any of them lived more than 8-9 years. They just aren’t as hardy as larger trees. In a drought, their roots aren’t as deep and they can’t reach water. They don’t stand up to wind as well. They don’t seem to fight diseases as well.

When I am selecting grafted trees, I always want to know what the rootstock is so that I can match it to my conditions.

You said fruit “forest”.  Is there any reason it needs to be just in that square? I would at least scatter a few trees around the rest of the yard and round off the corner of the square.  You might plant in curves or randomly if you don’t want it to look like an orchard.

Apple and peach are high maintenance trees, especially if you don’t use chemicals.. Selecting for disease resistance helps. You might consider some trees that need less care like persimmon and mulberry. I would plant grafted varieties though since you don’t have a lot of room to plant seedlings that may turn out to be male only or not produce for some other reason.Montmorency Cherry is almost carefree here in western Missouri. It usually misses the frosts and hardly ever have insect or disease problems. Pecans and walnuts are low maintenance, but I’m  not sure if you have room.

Thornless blackberries probably require the least care of any fruit. You could also plant raspberries and strawberries between your trees.

Raintree Nursery has the best information I’ve see about rootstocks and a huge number of tree varieties. It is a very good company.

Edible Landscaping Nursery has the best plant descriptions and care information that I’ve found. It is my preferred company. I like all the information and that they sell potted trees. I’d rather have a smaller potted tree than a slightly bigger bare root tree.
 
Michael Flemming
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Thanks for the information so far! as far as how much shadow the trees cast... i took this picture today mid day today to see the shadows cast.
The reason i am only doing the corner is because i don't want to turn my entire yard into a forest and i don't think the neighbors would take too kindly to that as well.
I do however have a good size of land at my fathers property that i could use to plant a good size food forest. but it is an hour drive away and i need to clean a bunch of junk off of it. so i will get to that at a later date to get my food forest fix in.
so just for my backyard i want to keep it clean looking but have a section for food. I even planted a couple blue berry bushes next to that shed in my backyard, and i just planted 2 grape vines on a trellis on my back porch south side. so i will at least have a couple things to eat from my backyard haha.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
steward
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Well, that's less shade than I was expecting.  Yay!  I'm sure you can get plenty of stuff to grow in that area.  I'd just put the trees somewhere where they'll get as much sun as possible while, if possible, leaving some sunny spots for other shrubs.  So I guess I'd put them as far North as possible in your forest and stick the sun loving shrubs just to the south of them, hopefully still out of the shade of those bigger trees.  West sun should be pretty good as well along we west side of your trees.
 
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I too am growing a food forrest. I have only .26 acres to work with and live in an HOA but you do what you can with the space you are given.

Here's a link to my page. I have several fruit trees planted about 3 years ago and then planted additional perenial food items around them. it's slow going but very satisfying considering i started with a blank slate of all grass and weeds.

My facebook page.
 
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