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Soil and Site Amendment for Apple Trees

 
Jay Colli
Posts: 9
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
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Hey all,

I have a parcel of land that I' like to start growing some cider apples on as it's no longer being use for hay. If I were buying land for this purpose , I certainly wouldn't have picked this spot but it's what I've been given so I'll just have to work at it. I'm unsure of the soil pH at the moment but I've been able to find a good snippet of information on the soil composition.

Soil Type: Herbert, typically cropped to corn, small grain or pasture.

Soil Material: 40 to 60 cm of gravelly loamy sand to to gravelly loam over loose, glaciofluvial, sands and gravels; usually stratified. Soil on this site is imperfectly drained and remains wet for the majority of the growing season. Slightly stony but manageable.

The parcel is approximately 100m E-W and 70m N-S (1.75 acres +/-) and has been used for growing hay the last 4-5 years, before which I believe it had lay fallow for quite some time. Air drainage is good and I believe that the old Golden Russet on the corner of the property has cropped each year in the last 3, perhaps more. I'm somewhat concerned about drainage in the lower areas of the parcel and would like to hear some opinions on installing drainage tile under the rows.

I plan on growing Golden Russet initially to provide the majority of the apples I want for the season while I can just collect/buy the rest for blending. Eventually I'd like to graft in or establish entire trees that would complete the blend but for now I'll just try to get one this straight ha ha. I'm looking for advice on which rootstock to select and how cider trees are most commonly pruned. I understand that a dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstock would be easiest to maintain but I'm not fixated on growing attractive apples, just lots of apples with plenty of flavour that are mostly out of reach to the deer ha ha. Having said that, I believe a semi-standard rootstock like Antonovka might be well-suited to my needs despite being a big-un. The recommended minimum spacing is 16' so giving the trees 20' should allow for around 150 trees, not that I'll be growing that many! I figure an initial run of 10 tree strung from the higher to lower areas of the parcel will give me a good idea of what needs doing (i.e. drainage, soil amendments, ect.) before I plant more, if I do.

I haven't thought too much about soil amendments but once I know the pH and have a think on what's easily available near the parcel I'll probably have more to write on the subject. Any suggestions would be appreciate!

I should also mention the parcel is in Nova Scotia, Canada.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Jay, First it sounds like you will be planting a monocrop, orchard of apples?
Have you looked into all of the permacultural thoughts of planting a food forest?
Will you be doing any hugel beds?
 
Jay Colli
Posts: 9
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Jay, First it sounds like you will be planting a monocrop, orchard of apples?
Have you looked into all of the permacultural thoughts of planting a food forest?
Will you be doing any hugel beds?


Hi Miles,

I neglected to go into detail on my complete plan for the parcel in my initial post. Admittedly, the apples tree will be taking precedence but long term plans include establishing a mixture of native grasses and red clover for ground cover, rhubarb on the periphery of the apple trees, vegetation filled swales for capturing run-off and encouraging infiltration and intermittently dispersed berry bushes (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, gooseberry and currants). I'm starting, and focusing the project on the establishment of apple trees so hugel beds haven't been incorporated into the plan but they may be useful for the berry bushes, which I'll look into. Maximum density for a parcel of this size in good condition would be around 150 trees according to industry standards but I'm looking at introducing 50-60 well spaced trees if the first ten do well.
 
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