as a rough measurement of ensuring that people have enough fruit (yeah, very subjective) for the year. Talking about full sized type trees, with the excess crop being frozen, dried, preserved, etc., to spread it through the year. Would a good start being a Loquat (very early season), plum (multi-graft, full sized), peach, and apple? In this way you'd have 6 or so months covered by actual fresh fruit. Cheers.
James, plan on having far more than you think you'd ever possibly need, because a lot of trees will come up short. Right now I've got 100+ trees in my permaculture orchard, that I started planting 6 years ago. I have YET to get enough fruit/nuts off of them for a single meal! I think from that 100+ trees, I can count on my hands the TOTAL amount of fruit and nuts I've harvested. The animals have in the past stripped my trees completely bare. Even with chicken wire surrounds for each and every tree, I still get animal predation.
posted 5 years ago
Yeah, Michael this is kinda what got me thinking about this question. I myself put in lots of fruit trees / shrubs (25+), many of which have proved to be disappointing to say the least. I think most of this issue comes from giving individual trees enough care at the right time, as your efforts become so much more dispersed. My most dependable and highest yielding trees have been the full sized ones, with dwarfing varieties not worth the effort in my opinion. You end up giving them as much water and fertilizer as full sized trees, and they never seem to really reach that more independent stage (the full sized trees seem to be better at fending for themselves for their nutrient and water). Another bit of misinformation I got while starting out was distances on planting them, the idea being that if you put them closer together they will remain smaller. In my experience this just often stresses one of the trees out, if not both, especially during extended dry spells (no real rain here for around three months). Irrigation during these times (I'm hand watering, not drip) seems to be more about keeping them alive than keeping them growing. So, from this 10 year adventure, I'd have to say my favourite species for productivity and ease are -
Loquat - early yielding (roughly around Sept / Oct here), a named variety it gives big fruit and a long season, and is dependable for yield.
Strawberry Guava - have this growing in a built in concrete tub, been my most dependable highest yielding fruit.
Feijoas - get a named variety and you'll have a great fruit, large and flavourful, and drops them when they're ready to eat. Best thing is birds leave them alone.
Apple - double grafted, full sized tree, bears amazingly well, needs thinning out for larger fruit.
Peach - birds don't seem to pester this too much, bears great fruit though good yields only every second year.
Plums - massive crops, only problem is that for blood plums to get a reliable pollination you need to get a multi-graft.
My most disappointing - (I think mainly due to the above points I mentioned, but also throw in the intensity of our summer sun / heat)
Hazelnuts, Almonds (savaged by sulfur crested cockatoos), Mulberries, Currants.
My main point would be go full sized, multi-grafted species, give them ideal plant spacing, get used to bird netting, and be ready to remove those trees that fail to impress. If it's not looking likely after 2-3 years (poor growth, disease, etc) rip it out and try something else. Of course these points are more for those in my situation of trying to grow fruit in a suburban block, rather than the orchard situation.
Me 3 pears 4 years old. Got 20LBS off of one.
5 Peach never got a peach. They have black rot disease which I'm going to spray soon for
3 apple but only 1 is 4 years. I got three poor quality apples
2 Plum Overloaded twice, last year they seemed to disappear before time to eat???
40 Year old Pecans give us 50 lbs + of Pecan.. Next door he has 10 30 year old trees and gets over a 1000 lbs.
I had cherry bushes that all died. Bought 2 cherry trees that died first year. Replaced with two that are growing good but too soon to fruit.
I think if you know what your doing (which i don't) your going to be over run but if you don't.
I think that is not enough. We have the same problem than Michael. Fruits sets nicely and then comes the birds. If you have such a problem the only thing you
can do is make a compact orchard wire or net it completely, put chicken or ducks underneath. Think as well on the small fruits currants, gooseberries etc.
I would consider adding mulberry to your list, as they can produce over an extended period of time.
Afraid I cannot help with any sort of estimate as to how many trees are needed.
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
posted 5 years ago
I think that plums and apples are the trees which bears most. You must choose varieties which bear a lot. Between late and early apple varieties there are months. I would estimate 20 kg per tree as a very broad mark.
In my climate, a bad freeze in spring can about wipe out the entire crop. So even with a lot of trees, still have that problem. The positive with too many trees in a good production year is that I can preserve it and have some in the off years.
We have a large family, eight kids, and 2 standard peach, 8 apples, 2 pear, 1 plum, 1 apricot, plus various berry bushes and grape vines keeps us in fruit for the whole year. It's actually more than we need, so we share. I generally can about 100 quarts each of peaches and pear, plus all kinds of jam, syrup, juice and preserves, about 100 quarts of applesauce/apple pie filling, plus we store the best keepers in our basement cold room, and they keep well until April or so. We dry some of the fruit, especially the apricots, into fruit leather. Just be sure to get trees that are right for your zone, and if you worry about late freezes, buy late blossoming varieties. Learn ways to preserve your harvests through the winter. I prefer standard trees to dwarf, and their harvest depends on how old they are and the weather that year, so probably buy more than you think you need and then just bless your neighbors with the extra during good years. Oh, and we always have apples on hand to feed the cows during the winter. You may only need half the trees I have.
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