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Spacing deliberations for small experimental orchard

 
pollinator
Posts: 114
Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
23
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I have chestnuts and hazelnuts to plant, as well as various other fruit trees I'll propagate and plant, in a small experimental / demonstration orchard. For this first planing I have 10 chestnut and 8 hazelnut seedlings. I got tree tubes and am making stakes for the plantings and have a free source of mulch relatively close.

I plan to plant in rows going North-South, with rows spaced 15' apart.

First rows (nearest to road to west) will be hazelnuts 10' apart within row, (6) hazels

Second row east from first will be chestnuts 15-20' apart within row, (5) chestnuts

Third row 15-20' apart small fruit trees/shrubs/(2) hazels

Fourth row 15-20' apart within row, (5) chestnuts

Questions:

1. Does that make sense? Should I think of my spacing differently? For growth and for access. I have a <6.5' wide truck and might get a small tractor someday but I doubt I'll go in this mini orchard much with it, maybe to mow. I imagine the tractor/mow setup would be narrower than 10' wide so the 15' rows should be okay. The hope would be to scythe or graze the small area early on, but once a year mowing + weed wacking is a 'last resort'.

2. Only two hazels in the 2nd row, will they wind pollinate okay even stacked in mainly one row? I plant to hedge the hazels together over time, propagating and planting more in between them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 223
Location: Dolan Springs, AZ 86441
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R Spencer wrote:I have chestnuts and hazelnuts to plant, as well as various other fruit trees I'll propagate and plant, in a small experimental / demonstration orchard. For this first planing I have 10 chestnut and 8 hazelnut seedlings. I got tree tubes and am making stakes for the plantings and have a free source of mulch relatively close.

I plan to plant in rows going North-South, with rows spaced 15' apart.

First rows (nearest to road to west) will be hazelnuts 10' apart within row, (6) hazels

Second row east from first will be chestnuts 15-20' apart within row, (5) chestnuts

Third row 15-20' apart small fruit trees/shrubs/(2) hazels

Fourth row 15-20' apart within row, (5) chestnuts

Questions:

1. Does that make sense? Should I think of my spacing differently? For growth and for access. I have a <6.5' wide truck and might get a small tractor someday but I doubt I'll go in this mini orchard much with it, maybe to mow. I imagine the tractor/mow setup would be narrower than 10' wide so the 15' rows should be okay. The hope would be to scythe or graze the small area early on, but once a year mowing + weed wacking is a 'last resort'.

2. Only two hazels in the 2nd row, will they wind pollinate okay even stacked in mainly one row? I plant to hedge the hazels together over time, propagating and planting more in between them.



First off, have you considered mixing your trees in groupings, instead of rows?

Utilize the taller trees as protection and shade for the fruit trees, taking into account the mature size of each species. Try to space so that the canopies of each species leave some room (expoit the edges between the trees) for sunligh to reach the soil, which should be a diverse mixture of native grasses and other supporting members of your carefully chosen plant guilds.

If you are irrigating, consider that the water needs to be delivered at the drip lines of the tree's canopy, not at the trunk. Therefore the spaces between the trees (when they are mature) might be a good spot for shallow swales that can capture the natural precipitation. You should also plan to plant attractors for the pollinators and to provide habitat for the pest-predators for whatever pests that might afflict the species that you are growing.

Think in terms of creating guilds of inter-related plants that support each other. Some plants will fix niitrogen, others (like the dikon radish) may accumulate that fixed nitrogen and slowly release it to "feed the guild". Other plants can be selected for their ability to draw up nutrients and trace minerals from the deeper regions of your soil.

Remember that any process that scrapes the ground clean of all vegetation is actually setting back the fertility of your soil.

Here are some links to a process that increases the soil microbes that keep your soil healthy:

"Using BEAM, the biologically enhanced agricultural management process he developed to create fungal-dominated compost, Johnson documented that during an agricultural field study lasting 4.5 years, there was a 25-times increase in active soil fungal biomass and an annual average capture and storage of 10.27 metric tons soil C ha-1 year (approximately 38,000 pounds of CO2 per acre per year). That’s 20-50 times the currently observed soil carbon increase in the 40 equivalent no-till soils tested.

https://www.csuchico.edu/regenerativeagriculture/bioreactor/david-johnson.shtml?fbclid=IwAR0PMX1BDGUd-yV95As-vq7QZ-Mq1j9gm0rbx1SYLYL7pclcBEFeDp4bQeg

Build your own BEAM:
https://www.csuchico.edu/regenerativeagriculture/bioreactor/bioreactor-instructions.shtml "

As for pasture-based regenerative agriculture, look up Gabe Brown and Ray Archuletta on YouTube for some excellent and informative videos and oter links to the subject.

I hope this helps.
 
R Spencer
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Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
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Thanks Mark. I am a fan of guilds, like the trio clusters in the Permaculture Orchard film, but I guess I need to revisit that idea to understand how I actually implement it.

I was asking mainly about spacing in the original post, and thinking of planting in guilds (e.g. large long lasting tree, faster growing/producing shorter-lived tree, support/N fixing tree) sounds good but it makes me even more unsure about spacing. If a mature chestnut is expected to need 40', and growing it out I should plan on ~20' spacing, then where do the support trees fit with respect to the chestnuts? Same idea with the hazels.

I have some guild trees ready to go, but for the most part am just starting with the nut trees for now and will be adding on more trees maybe this fall but more likely in the spring and following fall.
 
Mark Kissinger
pollinator
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Location: Dolan Springs, AZ 86441
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R Spencer wrote:Thanks Mark. I am a fan of guilds, like the trio clusters in the Permaculture Orchard film, but I guess I need to revisit that idea to understand how I actually implement it.

I was asking mainly about spacing in the original post, and thinking of planting in guilds (e.g. large long lasting tree, faster growing/producing shorter-lived tree, support/N fixing tree) sounds good but it makes me even more unsure about spacing. If a mature chestnut is expected to need 40', and growing it out I should plan on ~20' spacing, then where do the support trees fit with respect to the chestnuts? Same idea with the hazels.

I have some guild trees ready to go, but for the most part am just starting with the nut trees for now and will be adding on more trees maybe this fall but more likely in the spring and following fall.



Regarding the spacing in your chestnut tree example, you may want to increase the spacing to allow for a little extra open space where your understory tree would be planted. Picture how the light makes it way to the ground, and loosen up the spacing as needed to accomodate the placement of each tree. Keep in mind how much space each tree needs. All plants need sunlight. If your canopy trees are too close together, the understory trees will not get adequate light. Arrange your guilds so that there are plenty of "edges" where there is a transition from sunlight to shade. Many of the benefits of creating guilds comes from utilizing these "in-between" spaces.

Remember that the microbiology contained in the soil are the conduits that supply nutrients to all of the plants in each guild. You'll want to make sure that the companion trees tolerate and support each other. Some species may not co-exist with another species. For instance, one tree might thrive with a certain amount of water. It would be wise to make sure that all the species in that particular guild share roughly the same needs for water. Planting a tree that only requires a little precipitation next to a heavy water user may not work very well. You might also want to review the functions of each of the seven layers of a food forest. You'll want to provide habitat for pollinators and for your insect pest control.

Consult with your local agricultural agent or a trusted nursery-person to learn what conditions makes each species thrive. I am sure that there is a forum on this site where you can look for more specific advice about the habits and desires of plants.
 
R Spencer
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Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
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Thanks Mark, that all makes sense. I have a decent amount of experience forest gardening with trees in this area, and managing mature forest stands (thinking of light and silviculture). I think I got blinders on when a) thinking of a nut orchard which is sort of in-between the two areas I'm experienced in...part of what excites me about it! and b) it's on my own site now, which I've heard makes it harder to design in general than working on someone else's property!

I'll space the chestnuts and all a bit more. to leave room for inter-planting and equipment.
 
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