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Berry orchard: what would be better?  RSS feed

 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Hi everyone! This is my first time in the forum, although I've been reading and learning a lot from here, so I've decided to give it a try!
Well, here it goes:

I am planning to establish a berry orchard (possibly a small PYO), namely with currants (red,white and black) gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries, all of them with possibly more than one variety. I still don't know for sure the total area which will depend on budget.
question number 1: would you divide the area in sectors for each species/variety, which would probably be easier to manage and to pick, or would you mix everything in order to enhance diversity and diminish pests and infections problems?
question number 2: plastic mulch or wood chip mulch? I am more inclined towards the second, but I would like to have some feedback on how much work does imply!
question number 3: I've read a lot about Miracle farms and about interplanting with N-fixers and other species, but how would you do this in a berry orchard, considering the smaller size of the bushes?
question number 4: what would you plant in the interlines? I am thinking about a mix of legumes for N-fixing, but which stands treading better?
I live in Central-northern Portugal, by the way, at 1000m (don't know which zone would that be...).
Thanks to everyone!
 
Amjad Khan
Posts: 71
Location: London, Ontario, Canada - zone 6a
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question number 3: I've read a lot about Miracle farms and about interplanting with N-fixers and other species, but how would you do this in a berry orchard, considering the smaller size of the bushes?


Sea buckthorne might work for you as it is a berry producing shrub that fixes nitrogen. You could use this to fit nicely into your above scheme. Take caution though as to which variety you consider. You do need male and female plants to produce berries. In the following video the speaker addresses the idea of different varieties at about 11:30minutes in. I apologize for the sound quality, but it is worth putting up with it in my opinion for the information from an expert.
I'm not sure if you meant pick your own by (PYO) but having just had this thought, sea buckthorne might not be suitable because it is thorny... at the very least you could consider it because I'm pretty sure the Ontario grower from the video talks about having the public do their own harvesting at her property.



I also found a brilliant PDF that talks about growing sea buckthorne: Sea buckthorne.

As far as wood chips for mulch, many on these forums say that wood chips rob nitrogen from the soil (some say only at the beginning, and not so after they've started to break down for a while). I don't have direct experience with wood chip mulch, but can direct you to a PDF I found online: Wood chips.

Goof luck,

Amjad
 
Crt Jakhel
Posts: 157
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
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Annalisa Bellu wrote:question number 4: what would you plant in the interlines? I am thinking about a mix of legumes for N-fixing, but which stands treading better?


Some low-growing clover, for example subterranean clover.

You cam also try sawdust as mulch (since berries in general tend to like acid soil) provided you mix some nitrogen in it so it doesn't rob that much from the soil as it decays.

http://us.naturespath.com/blog/2009/07/10/sawdust-my-slave
 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Thank you Amjad, I didn't know sea buckthorne really, and I'll search more information, although I doubt I can find it here easily...
As to woodchips, I thought that the N robbing was more in case you mix it with the soil and not when you put it on top of it.
Subterranean clover looks a good idea Crt Jakhel, I'll search on its suitability for my place.
Thanks for the feedbacks
 
John Polk
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I live in Central-northern Portugal, by the way, at 1000m (don't know which zone would that be...).

Here is a rendition of Portugal divided into USDA hardiness zones for your reference.
At least when people talk the different zones, it won't be a complete mystery to you.

USDA zones PORTUGAL.PNG
[Thumbnail for USDA zones PORTUGAL.PNG]
Temps.PNG
[Thumbnail for Temps.PNG]
 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Thanks John! What does the temperatures relate to? Lowest? Or average low?
 
John Polk
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The temperatures are the Average Winter Lows.

The U.S. maps are fairly accurate, but I am not sure how much effort has been placed on non-US maps, as I believe that they are done by 3rd parties (who may not have complete & accurate data). However, it does give you a reference when somebody says "This plant is hardy to Zone 6".
 
Crt Jakhel
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Annalisa Bellu wrote:As to woodchips, I thought that the N robbing was more in case you mix it with the soil and not when you put it on top of it.


That's correct but the berries' root systems are usually quite shallow, near the surface. So it would not be wrong to give the chips a small hint which nitrogen to use.
 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Ok John, thank you. It might be correct for my specific area, since I live on the mountain (1000m) and it can be very cold during winter time. The real problem with my area (and similar ones) is not the winter lowest but more the spring (even late spring) sudden drops of temperature (Does the USDA zoning deal with this kind of situation?). That's why I love berries, cause they don't seem to mind the climate at all! And off course 'cause they're delicious!
 
John Polk
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Those maps basically just tell you how cold you can expect.
Within each area, we also have what is known as first/last frost dates.
(Those are also averages.)

For my location, I can expect about 120 frost free days between last frost and first frost...my "growing season".
That is real handy in places with short growing seasons. Heat loving annuals need to be started indoors, and once the danger of frost has passed, we can begin setting them outdoors. Still have to keep tabs on the weather reports in case there is an expected late frost after the plants have been planted out. Row covers, hot water bottles, or other means of protection needs to be at the ready for such times. If the last frost is late, and the first frost is early, things like tomatoes & peppers won't have enough time to mature without some measure of protection.

What is most devistating is an early warm spell. That will 'trick' fruit trees into setting blossoms early. Then along comes a late frost and wipes out the blossoms, which translates to no fruit that year.

 
Annalisa Bellu
Posts: 22
Location: Serra de Montemuro, Portugal
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Absolutely true. It happens here, especially with plums.
 
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