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Converting a Conventional Orchard

 
James Hershiser
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Location: Lane County, Oregon, zone 8b
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What's the biggest challenge of converting a conventional orchard into a permaculture orchard?
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
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James Hershiser wrote:What's the biggest challenge of converting a conventional orchard into a permaculture orchard?

Worth repeating: "The biggest challenge is getting over the fact that you will rip up most of it and start over. Better to start right than start over."
 
Blayne Sukut
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Location: South West Idaho
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Just some thoughts not really knowing your situation... You could maybe use the keyline system and take out every other row that follows the keyline then you'd have alley ways to work with and not loose all the trees and perhaps plant some under story and over story... If you haven't got Mark Shepards Restoration Agriculture book I would highly recommend getting it along with Water for Every Farm Yeomans Keyline Plan. First thing to do perhaps is just stop fertilizing them or spraying them plant some under story and see what survives and implement the keyline swells ASAP so you can stop irrigating them too... my 3 cents
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Blayne Sukut wrote: Just some thoughts not really knowing your situation... You could maybe use the keyline system and take out every other row that follows the keyline then you'd have alley ways to work with and not loose all the trees and perhaps plant some under story and over story... If you haven't got Mark Shepards Restoration Agriculture book I would highly recommend getting it along with Water for Every Farm Yeomans Keyline Plan. First thing to do perhaps is just stop fertilizing them or spraying them plant some under story and see what survives and implement the keyline swells ASAP so you can stop irrigating them too... my 3 cents

Good 3 cents Blayne.
Stop the codling. I lost 1,000 trees in first 2 years. Better to lose them soon than to codle them and realize you should have done so earlier.
If you want lower maintenance trees you have to be willing to let some culling happen. Painful short term for a long term gain.
 
Laura Emil
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Location: northeastern USA
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Stefan Sobkowiak wrote:Worth repeating: "The biggest challenge is getting over the fact that you will rip up most of it and start over. Better to start right than start over."


I am SOOOOOO glad I have not begun planting my orchard yet! Lack of help, lack of funds, lack of time had all delayed me - now I have a bit more of each, and JUST in time, I see this advice! thank you!

Guess I'll be needing your dvd! (and thanks, Blayne, for the book recommendations, too!)


 
Ted Jurney
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Quick question: I too have a conventional, monoculture orchard, much of it dead/dying. Plus we have a serious infestation of Russian olive trees everywhere as well. It has "overtaken" hundreds of trees. It seems everyone, starting with the local ag people from the state university to national experts all saying everything has to be "ripped out". This for us is a potential deal breaker, or "deal setter back another few years". Why does everything have to be ripped out? This would require a bulldozer or whatever and dump truck, crews of people...tens of thousands probably. My plan, all I can afford, is cutting flush, then sheet mulching heavily over the stump, leaving the roots to rot. Is this not a good idea? I have 18 acres of a dead/dying orchard. In serious need of help and consultation!
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Ted Jurney wrote:Quick question: I too have a conventional, monoculture orchard, much of it dead/dying. Plus we have a serious infestation of Russian olive trees everywhere as well. It has "overtaken" hundreds of trees. It seems everyone, starting with the local ag people from the state university to national experts all saying everything has to be "ripped out". This for us is a potential deal breaker, or "deal setter back another few years". Why does everything have to be ripped out? This would require a bulldozer or whatever and dump truck, crews of people...tens of thousands probably. My plan, all I can afford, is cutting flush, then sheet mulching heavily over the stump, leaving the roots to rot. Is this not a good idea? I have 18 acres of a dead/dying orchard. In serious need of help and consultation!

Ted you seem to have an IDEAL conversion situation. True most of your monoculture is dead and dying. That's great it just saves you time. Your 'infestation' of Russian olive is a God send. Nature's repair crew sent to do a job for FREE. How neat is that.
Here's a few simple steps:
1) Carefully examine your existing fruit trees. Select the ones that have withstood the no-spray regimen the best (I'm assuming you have not been spraying). Flag or spray paint the ones you like most to identify them.
2) Do the same for your God send trees. Identify the ones that look the healthiest and that seem positioned where you would imagine a fruit tree should be.
3) Now you have 2 of the 3 elements of your future trios of trees (the basic building block of a Permaculture Orchard). Determine where the repeating pattern of trios works and where it does not (try to avoid 2 trees of the same species touching). Keep the flags or double paint the ones that ultimately fit your future trio design.
4) Remove all the rest of the trees. The ones in the rows, the weakest fruit trees and those not in the right place. Before removing the fruit trees consider the possibility of overgrafting them (saves you years of work and speeds harvest of new cultivars).
5) Yes you can cut flush and use the regrowth in a mow and blow fashion to mulch under the trees.
If you are really stuck I can consult, almost Paul Wheaton's rate (miraclefarms(at)videotron.ca). Only phone consults however.
 
Ted Jurney
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Stefan-
Thank you so much for your reply. The creator of this orchard passed away in 2004 and every day since then my wife and I have been ruminating, stressing, obsessing (on my part) dreaming, fighting, wondering and asking about what direction to go. I have talked to lots of folks, read some books, visited some orchards and I have to tell you: Your words of encouragement and a simple permaculture plan brought tears to my eyes. Good tears. I cant express how much these words, combined with then watching the man who planted trees this morning, and aside from being a blubbering mess of emotions, I actually feel good about all of this for the first time in a long, long, long time. Thank you.
I very much am interested in a phone consultation, and will contact you offline.
I really do feel like buying 12 copies of the DVD and just arbitrarily giving them to people, that may happen...
Thanks to you, Paul, and Permies everywhere!
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Ted Jurney wrote:Stefan-
Thank you so much for your reply. The creator of this orchard passed away in 2004 and every day since then my wife and I have been ruminating, stressing, obsessing (on my part) dreaming, fighting, wondering and asking about what direction to go. I have talked to lots of folks, read some books, visited some orchards and I have to tell you: Your words of encouragement and a simple permaculture plan brought tears to my eyes. Good tears. I cant express how much these words, combined with then watching The Man Who Planted Trees this morning, and aside from being a blubbering mess of emotions, I actually feel good about all of this for the first time in a long, long, long time. Thank you.
I very much am interested in a phone consultation, and will contact you offline.
I really do feel like buying 12 copies of the DVD and just arbitrarily giving them to people, that may happen...
Thanks to you, Paul, and Permies everywhere!

Wow Ted a reply like that makes it all worth it for me. I THANK YOU.
I have been in this so much and long that it's just second nature, not something I have to think about, I just react. Your situation was so OBVIOUS to ME. It's hard to comprehend that it could have created so much stress and grief. It was my PLEASURE to help with that burden. We can't all be good at everything. I'm just a man outstanding in his field.
Can I ask you to post your reply and your situation question on my FB timeline or our website forum (permacultureorchard.com).
Thanks for making my day.
 
Ted Jurney
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Yes indeed! Thanks again!
 
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