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Growing grain in orchard?

 
Lukas Eriksson
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Location: South West Sweden
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I´m a long time reader of permies, but this is my first time writing here so I hope this subject is in the right forum. I read somewhere about growing grain in orchards, but I just can´t find where I read it. In Sweden, where I come from, the farmers long ago used to have a wild meadow in the orchard which they then cut for fodder and then let the animals graze for a short period. So I thought, is it possible to grow grain in an orchard? What is the the pros and cons? My idea is to use the Fukuoka/Bonfils method. No one I speak to seems to think this is possible, but swedish farming is very narrow-minded so I don´t know if I should trust them.

I´m very grateful for any inputs!

P.S Have you seen any swedish people in this forum?
 
John Polk
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Welcome to permies Lukas.

From a large scale, commercial ag perspective, those farmers are correct.
How could you fit a 60 foot (20 metre) wide combine between the fruit trees? lol

Commercial ag nowadays wants to put one single crop on any given piece of land.
They feel that it is the only practical & economic way to do things - Huge scale - "Get big, or get out"

On a small scale, such as growing enough for your family, livestock & a small surplus, I don't see how it could hurt anything.
Perhaps something like planting a winter wheat after the fruit has been harvested.
It should be ready for harvest next summer, before the fruits are ready to pick.
As long as you grow something that wouldn't need to be harvested at the same time as the 'main crop', it makes sense to get full use out of the land.

Anyway, how can you bake a fruit pie without the dough?

Good luck.

 
Aljaz Plankl
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You can grow non-commercial grain very easy in an orchard.
Relative location of course but something like this is working for me:
I put down in end of august half dried hay on surface where i want the grain field.
In October i rake it away, sow grains, mulch it back and that's it.
If you don't keep animals this is very good option, cuz you have extra hay after orchard maintenance.
Maintenance of orchard by cutting in August and using hay for preparing the ground.
Long, narrow rows of hay can be made and later long narrow rows of grain can grow in-between trees.
Mulch at least 30cm of material in depth and at least 1m wide.
If you have average soil, grains will grow like crazy this way, without any digging.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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As above - you won't be able to use traditional cultivation but it is definitely possible.

Remember you won't be able to till the ground without destroying the root system of your trees so you need a "no-till" method that works for you. The suggestion to use a deep mulch is a good one as you can simply rake it aside to plant.

Grain crops tend to be quite nutrient hungry if i recall correctly and may compete with your orchard trees for nutrients. Also, you need to plan your growing and cropping carefully - you don't want to have to trample your grain to prune your apple trees for example.
 
Dawn Hoff
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You could use a method like hedge row planting - where the trees are planted in rows (possibly with bushes and vegetables underneath), and grain in between. You should probably make sure that every third tree or so is a nitrogen fixer, maybe run some animals through once the grain is harvested, to fertilize (and/or shift between clover and grain).

Jeg er dansk - ikke svensk men tæt på (I am Danish - not Sweedish but close).
 
Jeff Hodgins
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John Polk wrote:Welcome to permies Lukas.


Perhaps something like planting a winter wheat after the fruit has been harvested.
It should be ready for harvest next summer, before the fruits are ready to pick.


I'm not sure if you can grow winter wheat in sweeden I think it might get too cold, on the other hand it is kinda in the ocean which helps and if the snow cover is usually good I don't know enoughf about the climate. Corn will not produce grain if it has any shade so I don't recomend trying that.

There is an orchard proven alternative to grains, that would be butternut squash. Almost like a grain in its ability to last for 9 months or more in storage. I grow mine with some shade but my neighbor has a mature peach orchard spaced at about 18 feet apart and they seem to do even better over there (unless we get lots of rain then mine could compare to his). If you can start peppers early enough they willl thrive in partial shade sun chokes and japanese yams are also good for shade, oh and scarlet runner beans, climbers.

Grains are tricky too grow and in my case I have found that they are not worth it unless you have like 500 hectares. They just take up space that you could use to grow valuable crops.
 
John Polk
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I'm not sure if you can grow winter wheat in sweeden I think it might get too cold, on the other hand it is kinda in the ocean which helps and if the snow cover is usually good I don't know enoughf about the climate.


Most of the populated regions of Sweden are in USDA zones 6-7.
Winter wheats are grown here in colder climates.

 
Dawn Hoff
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Sweden is as long as the rest of Europe combined and thus covers several climate zones - further more the south of Sweden is placed in the gulf-stream so quite a lot warmer than it's northern position would suggest. The southern part could easily have winter wheat, just like Denmark and England, but the northern most part would be hard stretched to grow wheat at all.
 
John Polk
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Here is a representation of Sweden's equivalent to USDA hardiness zones.
The inland north is not very grower friendly, but everything else offers many opportunities.

USDA Sweden.PNG
[Thumbnail for USDA Sweden.PNG]
 
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