I'm working on a 2 acrepermacultureproject on the Washington coast. I will only be able to visit the property a couple times a year, and I'm planning on an early spring visit (pruning, maintiance) and a fall visit (harvest). I've spent quite a bit of time looking into what to grow there that would do alright with minimal care, and that would be fairly forgiving in terms of harvest dates as I will have to use a single harvest trip to get all the different crops.
Azorole (edible hawthorn, should be good into the first frost)
Aronia grafted on European Mountian Ash rootstock
Autumn Olive (don't worry, not invasive in this area)
Bayberry (for the wax)
Vine maple (for smoking meats)
Maybe Disease Resistant Pear (Orcas, Rescue) that would probably end up dictating my harvest date
Male sea buckthorn for livestock fodder or tea (I keep rabbits)
Nuts? I'd be afraid the wildlife would play havoc with these
Service Trees (apple, pear)
Edible Dogwood (leaf diseases are a concern)
I ruled out apples because of the coddling moths (there is no way I would be able to get the nylon socks on the apples in the spring)
I expect I will use deerfence around small areas where young plants are getting up to size to keep them from getting mowed down. I will plant in the early fall so the plants have the best shot at rooting enough to make it through summer without irrigation.
The design problems to overcome are:
Site does not have irrigation
Site is on Washington Coast (cooler/wet summers), so plant diseases and fruit reaching maturity are concerns
Site will not have oversight, so I don't want food items that people will steel
Deer are likely in the area, so deer resistant species or protecting species until they are tall enough to be safe is a must
Harvest volumes will depend on how efficiently I can pick the fruit, so larger fruits are better than small ones.
Most fruit has a narrow harvest window, so I wouldn't expect to get much. If you can hunt on the property you might obtain more food value by going there and getting a freezer full of deer.....
I think some fruit such as Persimmon hang on the tree for a long period, that might be something to research, fruit which doesn't drop, but stays on the tree. I think Medlar is another. Some varieties of Pear are picked green and allowed to ripen off the tree. If you timed it right for these, you could potentially get a huge harvest.
It is remote...is it in a wild area of relatively undisturbed habitat?? You might want to reconsider the sea buckthorn, even though the plant has a lot to offer. There is a lag time before plants are recognized as being problematic invasives, but in 2005 sea buckthorn was put on the top five list of invasives by the canadian botanical association. In BC it's #15. I'm not sure if it's not a problem in Washington, or not on the radar yet, but it would be worth looking into. The benefit to you might not outweigh the long term damage to the area's ecology. It suckers, and tends to establish big monocultures, especially in riparian areas.
Regarding the Sea Buckthorn, thanks for the warning. I was planning to graft onto Autumn Olive rootstocks to prevent suckering, and use male only grafting material to prevent seeding, so I think I'll probably be ok.
The site is relatively undisturbed, it was planted to alder probably 20 years ago, so it's a monoculture of alders with little undergrowth at the moment. I plan to top sections of the alder, save the wood for smoking meats, and use the branches for Hugelkultur mounds I plant the new additions in. I'll use the trunks of the topped alders for posts for the deer fence. When the alder tries to sucker, I'll lop the suckers off with a hatchet and use them as mulch around the new plants.
Jerusalem artichokes may grow there, I'm not sure if they are deer resistant. I'll probably put a few comfrey plants out there too to see how they do - I use the roots extensively for skin balm and the leaves are great for mulching.
I also like me some horseradish, though that may get browsed by deer as well.
Does anybody know of a tree-nut that doesn't fall as soon as it's ripe? It would be awesome if I could get some nuts growing on the property.