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converting orchard to food forest  RSS feed

 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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We planted trees 3 years ago before we knew about permaculture. Also We have freinds who have 60 acre well established peach and apple orchard farmed
coomercially for 2 generations and are making attempts at switching to organic. Any information sources for converting standing areas to permaculture You all could steer me to? Thank You
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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i prefer to call a orchard coverted to food forest an orchard on steroids, as a lot of the trees are still growing in rows. reducing micro climate diversity. its totally possible ive done it before. my advice is start increasing the diversity in crops. fill in the gaps with berry bushes, fill in the gaps still with veggies and herbs, and fill in the gaps still with grains.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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In addition to those, in order to make it self-sustaining and reduce the amount of outside inputs, add a lot of nitrogen fixers, insectary plants, bulbs as grass barriers, nutrient accumulators, and mulch plants. Edible Forest Gardens by Dave Jacke is an excellent reference for what you're doing. What hardiness zone are you in? How much rainfall? What kind of soil? Based on those parameters, I can make some specific suggestions. Also, it sounds like your fruit trees may be fairly mature, and may not have too many years left. Now would be a good time to begin planting the larger nut trees like pecan, walnut, and chestnut so that those crops would start to come into production as the fruit production wanes.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I think I would start by planting mulch plants like comfrey, rhubarb, oregano, etc at the base of each fruit tree, plant some deep rooted dynamic accumulators like swiss chard, etc..that have spikey roots that go deep, and some legumes for nitrogen fixing..and go out from there..maybe some multiplying onions or jerusalem artichokes or daffodills to stop weeds from infiltrating...
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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Thank You all - those sound like great ideas - I know my freind needs to get some animal inputs in there too . We have chickens already. We are in USDA zone 6 - 6b . 40 inches of rain yearly. Extremes of weather all year - very unpredictable.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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You (they) are located perfectly for growing comfrey, which is one of the best nutrient accumulator/mulch plants. It's a good chicken feed too. It has deep roots that don't compete with the fruit trees. If I were you, I'd plant it all over the place, and use the chop and drop method for mulching. That would replace the need for buying and applying fertilizer. We're in Zone 9A, quite different, so I'm not sure what other plants would be best, but I'm sure many folks on this forum would know. Good luck, sounds like a fun project, with a near-term payoff since the fruit trees are already mature.
 
Rick Brodersen
Posts: 53
Location: Bainbridge Island,WA
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We have some friends who have a small apple orchard, less than 5 acres. They brought someone in with permaculture experience 2 years ago..thats when I first heard about it. They removed most of the grass between the trees and planted native wild grasses, grain producers, Planted a variety of small bushes, and everything from clover, millet, amaranth and others I can't remember. They run about 35-40 chickens through the area, not sure what variety they got but the chickens roost in the trees, so they only have nesting boxes to collect the eggs. The chickens don't produce as much as others but they don't care. They also don't feed the chickens. They also added in 3 small holding ponds, using their well water to fill and then it also attracts insects and frogs...overall has been a big transformation. Looks great now, btw I think they are a zone 5B or 6A
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