I don’t know if anyone wants an update on this project, but I know that sometimes I enjoy seeing updates on old threads.
I toiled over plans
for my orchard, tried to internalize everyone’s advice here, and wrung my hands all last year until finally a couple huge loads of woodchips showed up on my property last fall. I had left my name with some local
tree services, and that first load set the plans
With additional loads of woodchips, I ended up creating four rows, each about 8-12 inches deep, 8 feet wide, and 160 feet long. That was almost entirely done by hand! With wheelbarrows! Even if all the plants die, I got some much needed exercise.
So far I have planted about 20 fruit
trees, a bunch of shrubs, and a bunch of berry bushes. I’ve sprinkled in some comfrey, goumi bushes, false indigo, mushrooms, daffodils, and chives. My list of plants that I still need to fill in the remaining gaps and understory is long.
With a late frost, deer/animal pressure, and some neglect in the watering
department, I expected a lot more of the plants to die, but surprisingly almost everything that experienced damage bounced back. Overall, the growth has far outpaced the setbacks, sometimes shockingly so.
The great thing about getting a project started is that the momentum builds and soon concrete
, pressing action items replace the neurotic wheels spinning in your head. I initially had struggled with choosing between a linear, orderly layout and a more meandering, wild layout. I ended up with the lines, which works well now since we have to mow between rows. The lines also help me remember where everything is located. However, 10 or 20 years from now when the trees are mature, some have become more dominant, and some have died away, I think I will let the meandering paths develop and let the lines erode away. Everything happens in slow motion, which is good, because I’m busy.
Over the summer I grew winter squash and melons on the woodchips between trees. I now have enough
butternut squash, Seminole pumpkins, and candy roaster squash to fill a house, so that was fun.
I spent a long time stuck in an office job
, miserable, reading posts on this site about other people’s projects. Starting my own project seemed unattainable for all the normal reasons: job, money, kids, time, location, etc. I’m still not living my dream life, but with compromises I feel satisfied in knowing that I am moving forward rather than staying stagnant and frustrated.
I found a new full-time teaching job with horrible pay, but I have health insurance, enough money to pay the bills, and a much more flexible schedule. The whole process of starting this orchard was and still is daunting. I need to figure out how to prune my trees, trellis
some of my berries, make and spray
compost tea, propagate some plants, and the list goes on. Whenever I get too overwhelmed I just remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect and I am making progress.
This website has been very helpful in giving me ideas and shaping the way I approach the development of my orchard. While everything I read about still seems like a swirling vortex of disconnected information in my mind, with applied hands-on practice the dots are starting to connect. I appreciate all the input I received last year.