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Fruit trees spacing & Mixed orchard

 
Khalid Aassila
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I have a Stanley plum trees orchard almost 3000 trees , the rows are circa 3 meters apart and the trees are also circa 3 meters from each others , my question is can I plant more fruit trees in between and have a mixed orchard in order to take advantage of the space , if so what are the fruit trees that are suitable to be planted in the midst of this plum trees orchard ,? do I have to plant just other plum variety or can another fruit tree kind say cherries or peaches coexist in the midst of plums ....The orchard is located in the northern part of the country of Morocco in the foothill of the Atlas mountains , plums and cherries do great over here , but the local population is used to mono tree culture and heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers , my goal is to show them that an alternative way to fruit trees farming is possible and viable .please help me with any of your suggestions or ideas as I am very novice , thank you.
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Jason Silberschneider
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I would start by planting leguminous trees in between the plums to help build soil health and structure. And shade. And to help wean the plums off the irrigation as much as possible.

How many leguminous trees? Just a few more than you'd think. Then keep going. Push through your comfort zone. You'd be surprised how many more you could fit in that spot just over there.
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Khalid Aassila
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Jason Silberschneider wrote:I would start by planting leguminous trees in between the plums to help build soil health and structure. And shade.
Absolutely John , it is my plan to plants all kind of legumes in between the trees (peas beans carrots etc....) for the time being and after finishing the pruning we are now busy cleaning the soil from the rocks that you can see on the images , this orchard was pretty much neglected when I purchased it a couple of months ago now we are trying to save the trees and do a great deal of maintenance and cleaning , I want also to mention that it is a 6 hectares orchard with half planted with plums and another half with almonds trees and few other fruit trees here and there ....we do not have water problems as we have two deep wells and a large basin also the trees are irrigated with drip system with two hoses (4 holes) for each tree ...
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Joylynn Hardesty
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Khalid Aassila wrote:...my question is can I plant more fruit trees in between and have a mixed orchard in order to take advantage of the space...can another fruit tree kind say cherries or peaches coexist in the midst of plums...my goal is to show them that an alternative way to fruit trees farming is possible and viable...


Take a look at what Stefan Sobkowiak is doing, on 4 of his acres. He has a lot of bushes and vines among his fruit trees, food producing ground cover, etc.
"..there were 4000 apple trees in the orchard already, in the first two years of owning the farm he sadly lost 1000 of them. ..What’s unique about Stefan’s orchard is that it is planted in Trios (originally called NAP – nitrogen fixer, apple, and plum/ pear)... One nitrogen fixer, 2 crop trees One characteristic of this pattern is that no fruit or nut tree is next to its own species in the row or in between the rows...Therefore, if any tree gets infested with pests, it is much less likely to pass the problem on to another tree of its kind."
The quotes above are scattered excerpts from this article, http://permacultureapprentice.com/here-is-how-you-make-a-living-from-a-4-acre-permaculture-orchard/ , which was posted here. http://www.permies.com/t/49613/forest-garden/Living-acre-Permaculture-Orchard
There are valuable links thruout this article.
 
Khalid Aassila
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:
Khalid Aassila wrote:...my question is can I plant more fruit trees in between and have a mixed orchard in order to take advantage of the space...can another fruit tree kind say cherries or peaches coexist in the midst of plums...my goal is to show them that an alternative way to fruit trees farming is possible and viable...


Take a look at what Stefan Sobkowiak is doing, on 4 of his acres. He has a lot of bushes and vines among his fruit trees, food producing ground cover, etc.
"..there were 4000 apple trees in the orchard already, in the first two years of owning the farm he sadly lost 1000 of them. ..What’s unique about Stefan’s orchard is that it is planted in Trios (originally called NAP – nitrogen fixer, apple, and plum/ pear)... One nitrogen fixer, 2 crop trees One characteristic of this pattern is that no fruit or nut tree is next to its own species in the row or in between the rows...Therefore, if any tree gets infested with pests, it is much less likely to pass the problem on to another tree of its kind."
The quotes above are scattered excerpts from this article, http://permacultureapprentice.com/here-is-how-you-make-a-living-from-a-4-acre-permaculture-orchard/ , which was posted here. http://www.permies.com/t/49613/forest-garden/Living-acre-Permaculture-Orchard
There are valuable links thruout this article.



A mixed orchard planted in Trios is ideal from a permaculture point of view but alas from a practical economic view it presents great difficulties , let me explain , usually how it works here in this country we are used to sell the crop on the trees and get paid for it, so for example I will sell my plum trees crop on the trees so it is ideal to have them all in one place in order to make it easy for the harvest , my question was about mixing two or three different kind of fruit trees together who ideally do not give the crops in the same time so that to make it easy for those who will buy my crops ...I hope I made my point and I apologies if I did not express myself clearly ...thank you anyways
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Khalid Aassila wrote:...my question is can I plant more fruit trees in between and have a mixed orchard in order to take advantage of the space , if so what are the fruit trees that are suitable to be planted in the midst of this plum trees orchard?...


I bring your attention to the following quote, also from the above referenced article.

"This orchard now offers over 80 cultivars of apples, in addition to several types of plums, pears, cherries, and countless other fruits and vegetables. There are also trios in shrubs: red, black currants, honeysuckle, gooseberry, raspberry, and rhubarb; as well as over 100 different types of ground cover such as annual vegetables, herbs and grasses."

It would appear that any fruit tree can be next to a different fruit tree. For your purposes, I understand that the trios will not work. I sought to encourage you, as it appears his tree varieties are all intermingled. Pick and choose what can be applied, if anything, to your situation.

Good luck.
 
Neil Layton
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Hello Khalid

I think an important question to be asked is what rootstock your trees are on. I am guessing these trees are grafted on to St Julien A rootstocks, which would give a ~3m crown diameter at maturity if well fed and irrigated.

I would concur with the suggestion of planting leguminous nitrogen fixers, but you need to be careful about eliminating space for picking (you don't say whether these are hand picked or if you use a machine).

The other way of doing it would be to fill in the gaps: plant something on a smaller rootstock equidistant between four trees. I would use a different species in order to minimise nutrient competition: NOT another stone fruit.

Then put in a groundcover: this might be something fruiting or it might be something that fixes nitrogen or brings up nutrients from deep in the soil horizons such as comfrey or lupin (there are varieties that produce edible seeds). Either way, this should be something that provides forage for bees in order to provide food for them at times when your plums are not flowering.

In the case of a crop this might compete for nutrients with your plums, but the yield from the crop might offset the losses from the plums. In the case of using a nitrogen-fixing cover crop this should increase the plum yield (but be careful of overstressed branches).

On a plot this big you could try using multiple strategies and see what works best on your land with your trees (and be sure to write it up!).
 
Khalid Aassila
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Today we planted an additional 140 almond trees in replacement for the dead ones , we also planted ten zephyr nectarine trees on the edges , as an experiment because I hear that nectarine likes it in here , I also planted some apple trees and some plum and cherry trees ...we also planted prickly pears along the fences , everything is in experiment phase and whatever works better will be planted on the next half hectare that is not already planted , this orchard is 1300 meters above sea level and the locals say that plums cherries peaches and nectarines love it in here and give abundant crops ,My plan would be to fix the house and move in it this coming summer cause the man power is a problem here too , having somebody else doing the work for a wage is not as doing things on my own ... I will keep you updated if you like so
 
Bryant RedHawk
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With your plums planted on a 3m grid, I would add other varieties around the already establishing orchard.
Nut trees, and the other fruit trees you have mentioned will work well.
Fig might also be a good neighbor.

as far as understory, it will depend on your soils needs and the ability to harvest easily so you might find that brassicas, legumes, and other low growing cover plants do best for your soil building needs.
If the soil is fairly compacted, the deep root type veggies might work well at loosening the soil and you might get a nice crop from them at the same time.

In our orchard (mixed fruit trees such as pear, plum, apple, fig, mulberry) are working well together.
We have 2m wide X 3m long raised beds in between the trees but we also allowed for that at the planting of the orchard (our trees are on 6m grid layout )
 
Khalid Aassila
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:With your plums planted on a 3m grid, I would add other varieties around the already establishing orchard.
Nut trees, and the other fruit trees you have mentioned will work well.
Fig might also be a good neighbor.

as far as understory, it will depend on your soils needs and the ability to harvest easily so you might find that brassicas, legumes, and other low growing cover plants do best for your soil building needs.
If the soil is fairly compacted, the deep root type veggies might work well at loosening the soil and you might get a nice crop from them at the same time.

In our orchard (mixed fruit trees such as pear, plum, apple, fig, mulberry) are working well together.
We have 2m wide X 3m long raised beds in between the trees but we also allowed for that at the planting of the orchard (our trees are on 6m grid layout )

we already have 6 fig trees scattered around and we are planing to plant even more ....figs grow wonderfully in this area there are almost everywhere to the point that they are not worth much from a market point of view ...a neighboring orchard grows only figs which he sells in a dried form , we also have olive trees , pomegranates peaches apricots walnuts grapes etc...but the main crops are plums (prunes) and almonds
By The Way if anyone is interested in volunteering in my small Farm I will offer you shelter and food in exchange of some of your work and / or skills , all you need to do is pay for your flight ticket and I will come pick you up from the airport (not far from here )
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Khalid Aassila
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some updates , these two agriculture students touring my farm and trying to apply what they learned on the ground
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Khalid Aassila
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Me cleaning the rocks
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Jason Silberschneider
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I'd like to think those chickens are being mob-grazed through your orchard, rather than just roaming?
 
Khalid Aassila
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Jason Silberschneider wrote:I'd like to think those chickens are being mob-grazed through your orchard, rather than just roaming?

The Chicken are just roaming they love it in this area cause the place was just cleaned from rocks so they find all kind of insects and even scorpions ....I bought the farm with its chicken , I do not have many of them just around 15 , so they are left roaming freely for now , we are thinking though of building a chicken coop when we start planting veggies so that they do not damage the area that will be planted ....I'd love to do many things on the ground and experience permaculture projects and ideas but I am a single guy running the whole thing and I am surrounded with archaic thinking though to convince lot , for them tree farming is using fertilizers pesticides insecticides etc...I am having big trouble even to convince them f the positive aspect of having several bee hives around .....yes I am the boss and the owner but the family and surrounding get involved in decision makings ....The two young girls you see one is my nephew and the other is her friend , they are about to graduate from an agricultural institute , needless to say they have been brainwashed at school but they are easier to convince than the old lot about the benefits of organic no till farming ....
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Marianne Cicala
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What a wonderful beginning Khalid.
IMO there is not sufficient room for additional trees within the rows. Remember that the roots go well beyond the drip line, BUT, there is loads of empty soil begging for guilds. Grass competes for water and nutrients, so massive companion plantings would be a huge benefit. Berries bushes & creepers like strawberries, beans, vetch, comfrey (chop/drop), clover etch.. as well as pollinators are important. You can Google nitrogen fixing plants (sorry, my cut/paste button isn't working) for a long list of understory planting. That is where I would concentrate my efforts. You may also consider bulbs to keep grass at bay as well as perennial herbs: oregano, chives, parsley, rosemary, lavender, mints then add another layer of insectary plants like lantana, calendula, fennel & finish off with annual veggies. If you have to replace any of the Stanley, consider expanding the plum variety first, Santa Rosa & Damson would benefit you current plums. Although Stanley are self pollinating, they will produce more with a cross. Apples & pears work beautifully when interplanted with plums, but check the chill hours you have for those fruits. Peaches may work better than apples in your climate.
 
Marianne Cicala
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here are a couple pics of our orchard: apples, plums, pears, peaches as well as intense guilds. This diversity makes a big difference.
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Khalid Aassila
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thank you Marianne Cicala : yes we do have a half dozen trees of other plum varieties and we planted more this year , the problem is that here the nurseries often cheat the customers and they might sell you a variety for another so you are not really pretty sure of what you have until it is fully grown , as o cover crops yes indeed I am planing to plant as many as possible as soon as we are done clearing the soil from the rocks so it can be worked easily ......I also have a couple of small plots of land that are not yet planted so I am getting one ready to be planted with figs and pomegranate trees , i think they are the best as they require the least amount of maintenance and they are native to this soil and climate , I am also busy planting prickly pears as fences , love this magic plant , it grows on its own require little to no maintenance .....I need your encouragement and knowing that other people around the world are interested and are following what I do is the best reward I can get , so thank you all who replied ...by the way here is the link of this orchard on wikimapia so you can get an idea of the location the size etc ....:
http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=33.724090&lon=-4.727383&z=14&m=b&show=/34148763/Ferme-AASSILA-KHALID-a-Cherbana
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Khalid Aassila
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Marianne Cicala wrote:here are a couple pics of our orchard: apples, plums, pears, peaches as well as intense guilds. This diversity makes a big difference.
Your Orchard is amazing no doubt , mine is more challenging as it is in a semi arid area rocky terrain , but I am taking up the challenge and I hope I can post some better looking pictures when the spring hits here and the trees have flowered .... by the way some almond trees already start having flowers when I last checked them a couple of days ago
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Marianne Cicala
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Your rock pics make me feel better - we are loaded with quartz, have huge piles everywhere although after every rain, they seem to bubble up. You have us beat hands down....free fencing?!?!?!
We do get quite a bit of annual rain 53" and nicely spread out over all seasons. BUT we cannot grow almonds or pears (fire blight is not worth fighting any more) here because of the ridiculous humidity which hovers @ 80% in the summer. Happily figs seems to adapt everywhere!
Pls. keep the pic coming.....I love seeing other climate, the similarities of plants and the "Gee, I wish I could grow those".
 
Khalid Aassila
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some said that Morocco was called that because it is full of Rocks ...LOL
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Khalid Aassila
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More Rocks from Morocks , the good news is that most of these rocks have already been removed as I have 4 full time workers dedicated to the sole task of removing rocks using them as fences and clearing the ground in order to make it suitable for growing some greens ....the workers are mainly women from the nearby village they are hard working and know how to pick rocks and the great about it is that they only cost 50 Dirhams a day yes that's 5 US Dollars a day not only that they come asking for work and they are grateful when I offer one , each woman has family behind so that's a great way to help few families getting by , the wages might seem low but these are the average wages in this part of the world .....

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Neil Layton
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Khalid Aassila wrote: I am also busy planting prickly pears as fences , love this magic plant , it grows on its own require little to no maintenance


Please be careful with your magic plant, Khalid. It can become very, very invasive:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prickly_pears_in_Australia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia_stricta#Invasive_species
 
Khalid Aassila
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Neil Layton wrote:
Khalid Aassila wrote: I am also busy planting prickly pears as fences , love this magic plant , it grows on its own require little to no maintenance


Please be careful with your magic plant, Khalid. It can become very, very invasive:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prickly_pears_in_Australia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia_stricta#Invasive_species


no worries prickly pear is all benefits , in the arid parts of Brazil they use it as forage crop , not only that its fruits contain grains from which a very expensive oil can be extracted .....I wish I had few hectares of just arid land i would plant them all with prickly pear I can make millions just selling Prickly Pear Seed Oil with zero cost , cause the plant grows on its own pretty much .....i do not know about Australia , but I am sure here in Morocco it will never become so invasive to constitute a problem
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Khalid Aassila
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More prickly pears planting (this was almost a month ago ) will keep you updated
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Andre Lemos
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Hi Khalid!

Great looking place but tremendous work you have there.
I'm from Portugal and my previous farm was like yours, arid, compacted soil, low on organic matter, diversity, erosion and rocks so i have the following sequential proposals:

. Chop and drop every second tree of your plum orchard during maximum leaf production.
. In February plant 3 local fast growing nitrogen fixing trees between each pair of plums ( distance should be 5/6m apart).
. This Autumn sow mixes of nitrogen fixing herbaceous plants and cereals for diversity, nitrogen and organic matter.

I bet that the previous owners of the farm used a lot of fertilizer and other chemicals in order for those trees to grow in that soil... it simply isn't rich enough for such a intensive orchard.

That being said, also nevermind at what the previous comments said, their climate and soil status are completly different from ours. I don't want to be rude but looking at your pictures and reading proposals of berries and other soil covers... opinions are always welcome but copy paste ones are not.

Another thing Khalid, i've read somewhere that cherry trees have a bad influence on plums but cannot refind that info.

Good luck and keep us updated!
 
David Livingston
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I certainly think Almonds are are good crop to go for as at the moment most come from the west coast of america in an unsustainable manner so production is likely to go down world wide and price up
Have you thought about going for dried fruit ? make your own solar drier ? Apricots plums grapes etc but also apples and pears. Dried fruit is easier to transport and keeps better to market
 
S Bengi
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Given the fact that you plants are s close. I would not plant any other tree unless I am replacing a plum/almond tree. I WOULD however plant some nitrogen fixing ground cover, to make the orchard more fertile. Adding some cabbage family plants plus carrot family, plus spinach family could make the site more productive and net you some more money. The onion/garlic family might also be a wonderful addition. Now with a year round supply of flowers including a bee hive would be nice.


I would cover that water pond to minimize evaporation.
 
David Livingston
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bees are a good idea I think as well .
Have you thought about making your own hive ?

David
 
Marco Banks
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This is really cool to see Khalid! I love what you are doing. Thank you so much for continuing to post pictures.

One of the benefits of nitrogen fixing cover crops like legumes is that you can then feed those same crops to livestock. Your chickens will appreciate having a lot of bio-diversity to pick through and scratch at.

Do you have any water gathering/harvesting earthworks? With such rocky soil, I would imagine that you would have a lot of run-off when you get a heavy rain. I see that you've got drip irrigation lines run along your orchard. Is water availability a problem where you are at?

I've read that one of the benefits of fungi dominated soils is that the fungi mine rocks for nutrients, and slowly pull from the rocks the nutrients that the plants need. So rocky soils, once colonized by fungi, are tremendously healthy soils. I'd be curious: when you get a heavy rain, do you see mushrooms popping up around your orchard? That's a good sign.

Thank you so much for continuing to post pictures and keep us informed on your amazing project.
 
Khalid Aassila
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Hello friends sorry for the long delay , I am updating you with some pictures from my farm taken in May 2016 ....things start looking a lot better the plums and almonds trees are flowering and the prickly pears and figs we just planted all start sprouting ...we also planted some herbs and veggies (peas squash and others )
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