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Planning a new orchard - layout help?

 
Lindsay Dunn
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My husband and I bought a house this fall, in the Great Lakes region, Z5b, and we're eager to put in an orchard as soon as possible (just for home/family use, not to sell). There's a great spot to the west of the house, just over an acre, that gets full sun, basically flat (though there's a steep slope just to the north down to a river) and is sheltered from prevailing winds by a windbreak of mature pines. Our soil is cobbly sandy loam. I watched The Permaculture Orchard with Stefan Sobkowiak, and it inspired me to try a permaculture orchard. The video gave me a lot of ideas for layout, but permaculture is very new to me, so I was hoping I could get some other people's ideas and opinions, to see if I'm anywhere near the right track! I reached out to our local extension office, but they guy who emailed me back was definitely approaching this from a commercial standpoint (talking a lot about spraying) and that's far from what we want. We're not too worried about high yields or perfect fruit - it's just for us and most of it will get canned or jammed.

We'd like to plant: chestnuts, hawthorn, standard apples, semi-dwarf apples, pears, cherries, hazelnuts, plums, elderberries, highbush blueberries and strawberries. We'll plant a cover crop of New Zealand white clover (and maybe lupines) for nitrogen, though as the trees get bigger, I'd like to try growing groundnuts too. Other plants we'd eventually want to incorporate include: comfrey, rhubarb, garlic, nannyberry and spicebush. Deer is a huge problem in our area, so we'll fence the whole thing in with an electrified slanted deer fence.

Since the trees we'd like to plant vary in height so much, my idea was to put the tallest trees to the north in rows that run N-S, but alternate species/cultivars so that there's some distance between the same ones. Hazelnut and elderberry could (I think) be planted near/under the taller trees. I've attached a preliminary layout that I mocked up, labeling two of the rows but the others are just more of the same. Right now I've allotted 25 feet between rows and 20 feet between large trees (hawthorn, apple, pear, cherry) within the rows. Total space is about 150' x 150', taking up only about half our space, which leaves us room if we want to add on down the road.

Anyway, I'd love to hear any thoughts, advice, tips, concerns, questions or words of warning wisdom anyone has! Does this layout look ok? How could it be improved? Thanks!
OrchardLayout.png
[Thumbnail for OrchardLayout.png]
Layout Idea
 
Mike Feddersen
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Lindsay, it sounds like you're off to an awesome start.
.
I found this nice YouTube video of a nursery expert talking about the backyard orchard, he mentioned his first course of action for bug problems is organic. Shows using a raised bed for trees that prefer drier soil. Demonstrates pruning for a nice working height.
.
 
Dominic Schultheis
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Wow Lindsay, what a great start to your orchard!

I think I would want to include some nitrogen fixers in the tree and shrub layers. You have lupine for your herbaceous layer and clover for your ground cover layer. I would consider seaberry (Sea Buckthorn) for your shrub layer, which not only fixes nitrogen but produces a medicinal berry. The black locust is a great option for a nitrogen fixing tree in your area. Although, black locust does not offer a food yield, I've heard of people using them as scaffolds to trellis grape vines. My understanding is both of these nitrogen fixers grow quickly and don't need much attention to get going.

As for timing of your harvest, chestnut, hazelnut, apples, and pears are all late season crops. Cherries and plums are typically mid season. I would consider including some early variety apricots and peaches to balance out the yield of your tree crops.

Thank you for letting us share in your orchard design! Keep us updated!
 
Lindsay Dunn
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Thanks! I just read about all the uses for sea buckthorn, and it sounds awesome! I'll definitely get some seeds. I know you need males and females for fruit production so - how can you tell them apart when they are seedlings, and do males fix nitrogen just as much as the females? (As a side note, we're getting a bunch of chicks and keets this spring too, and I'd like to start planting things that they can forage for in the winter... sea buckthorn will work well there too!)

Has anyone grown sea buckthorn from seeds, and know of a good source for seeds?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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I don't know if Fireblight is a problem in that region, but pretty much every one of your chosen fruit trees is a species susceptible to it.

If it is, you might want to figure out something to space between them. Pawpaws and American Persimmons might work?
 
patrick canidae
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I would consider Enterprise and Priscilla apple cultivars. They have pretty good resistance to fire blight, cedar apple rust, and scab. Diseases endemic in most of the great lakes region.

Also, the steep slope and river micro climate might help hold cooler temperatures in the spring, and would be ideal for your apples. May help delay blossom formation, and reduce possibility of yield loss due to frosts after blossoming. This is why there are so many orchards on the west side of Michigan, the lake holds down the temps and slows down budding of the fruit trees in the spring. Reduces some of the freeze losses.
 
Lindsay Dunn
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Thanks Kyrt - I can't find any information for localized areas with a fire blight problem, so I'm not sure if it's a problem in my area. I am located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I did see that southern MI has had some issues. I've tried to get a range of cultivars (especially apples), so that at least most are somewhat resistant to disease.

For apples, we are getting (with general disease susceptibility in parenthesis): Golden Russet (average), Roxbury Russet (average, very resistant to fire blight), Akane (good, some resistance to fb), Sansa (good), Ashmead's Kernal (good), Haralson (resistant to fb), Duchess of Oldenburg (good), St. Edmund's Russet (good), and I'm going to try one Arkansas Black (good, some resistance to fb). Pears: Early gold (very resistant to fb), Golden Spice (very resistant to fb), and Ure (fb resistant). Cherries: Montmorency.

Persimmons are a good idea though Do you know of a source for them?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Lindsay Dunn wrote:Persimmons are a good idea though Do you know of a source for them?

Best places I'm really familiar with are Pacific Northwest. [Raintree, Burntridge and OneGreenWorld, all of which carry numerous cultivars]

That being said, I frequently peruse Oikos Treecrops which is located in Michigan and might be a good place for you. Though they don't carry cultivars so much as selecting seeds for the traits they want in their seedlings.
 
John Wolfram
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Lindsay Dunn wrote:Persimmons are a good idea though Do you know of a source for them?

In the Midwest, the state nurseries are the best place to get persimmons as the prices are hard to beat. I'm not sure about Michigan, but in Indiana pencil diameter persimmons are under 50 cent a piece from the state nursery. While most state nurseries are probably sold out for the year already, I've got an order for 100 persimmons this year and would sell 10 or 20 at about my cost ($5 or $10) if you happen to be passing through Indiana on the I65 corridor between Chicago and Indianapolis sometime in late winter / early spring. If it's after the INGA scion wood swap, I'd probably be able to throw in a bunch of persimmon scion wood as well.
 
Mike Feddersen
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More on backyard orchard culture http://www.davewilson.com/home-gardens/backyard-orchard-culture
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Although it does function quite well, keep in mind that Backyard Orchard style is putting a LOT more money into the nurery's pockets per area of orchard than more typical orcharding.

Not as if that's a bad thing by any means, but it does give one reason to pause and carefully think the choice of method through.
 
Lindsay Dunn
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Kyrt - how do you mean?
 
Stu Smith
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I'd skip persimmons if you're in the UP
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Lindsay Dunn wrote:Kyrt - how do you mean?


Think about it. If you're filling a space with... say... ten semi-dwarf trees grown to their full spacing, or you're growing fifty trees in that same space backyard orchard style, which costs more in terms of cash?

I'm not saying it's a bad method, it's great for what it does but it is more expensive for the purchaser/profitable for the seller [aka there's plenty of motivation to market the method.]
 
Ken W Wilson
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I'd add pecans and hickory. Low mantenance, lots of food value, and tasty too. Blackberries and raspberries for those reasons and also for harvests earlier in the year.

Strawberries might be good. I'm trying some musk strawberries for ground cover. I planted them last spring. I've done a lot of weeding so far. I'm hoping by late summer they can take care of themselves.
 
John Wolfram
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:
Lindsay Dunn wrote:Kyrt - how do you mean?

Think about it. If you're filling a space with... say... ten semi-dwarf trees grown to their full spacing, or you're growing fifty trees in that same space backyard orchard style, which costs more in terms of cash?

I'm not really sure which is more profitable for the nurseries since there are hefty discounts when you get in the 25 or 50 tree range. For example, if you were to buy 10 trees from Van Well Nursery you would be paying $22 a tree plus shipping ($220 for 10 trees). If you put in an order for 50 trees your price per tree is around $8 ($400 for 50). With the larger order, the nursery is getting almost twice the cash as the smaller order, but they are also having to deliver 5 times as much product so it is questionable which is more profitable for them.

With grapevines, the difference can be even more extreme. At Double A Vineyards, it is actually less expensive to buy 50 Aurore vines than it is to buy 13($105 vs $107.25).
 
Kyrt Ryder
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None of the nurseries I regularly deal with for named cultivars have bulk discounts on trees like that.

I'm looking at Starkbros [the source of all the backyard orcharding documentation] and I'm not seeing any such discounts there either.
 
John Wolfram
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If you want bulk pricing at Stark, look in the commercial section. http://www.starkbros.com/about/commercial

Dave Wilson Nursery is also a good source for information on backyard orcharding.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Yes, commercial orders are going to be cheaper per plant. Though they're all going to be the same cultivar [unless you know nurseries that offer commercial discounts on a batch of mixed plants?] and some [many?] nurseries have several hoops to jump through to participate in their commercial sales.
 
John Wolfram
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Yes, commercial orders are going to be cheaper per plant. Though they're all going to be the same cultivar [unless you know nurseries that offer commercial discounts on a batch of mixed plants?] and some [many?] nurseries have several hoops to jump through to participate in their commercial sales.

Most nurseries offer bulk order discounts on mixed plants, although some of them require you to order a certain bundle size of a specific type of tree or pay a "broken bundle" fee. For example, at Cummins nursery you pay a broken bundle fee if you order less than 4 of a specific tree. At Stark Bros, it looks like they charge a $20 fee (ouch!) on bundles of less than 10 trees. There's a reason I've never ordered from Stark. At Adams County Nursery, there's a big price break when your order is 25 trees, and another at 100 trees. They don't charge a broken bundle fee, and one year I ordered two of every plum, apricot, and pear they offered. Van Well is another company that doesn't charge a broken bundle fee and their first big price break occurs at 50 trees. One year, I got to that 50 threshold by ordering 2 or 3 of every peach and apricot they carried.

There are definitely some nurseries that are a pain in the ass to deal with and only want the 1000+ tree orders, but there are also lots out there that offer good service and prices to those ordering 25-100 trees.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Thanks for the clarification. Looks like I'm going to have to dig deeper before making my next big plant purchase.
 
Kelly Smith
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John Wolfram wrote:. Van Well is another company that doesn't charge a broken bundle fee and their first big price break occurs at 50 trees. One year, I got to that 50 threshold by ordering 2 or 3 of every peach and apricot they carried.


be careful with this.
i ordered 50 trees from them in 2015 an mix/matched a variety of trees and was not given the 50 tree discount.
when i called, i was informed that i had to order trees in bundles of 5 to get the discount.

i still got a decent deal, but it ended up costing ~10% more than i thought.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Starks has healthy trees, but I've called a couple times to find out what rootstock was on a particular tree, and they couldn't tell me. I don't buy trees without knowing the rootstock anymore.
 
Lindsay Dunn
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This is really starting to get off-topic - I just wanted some feedback on my layout.

Most of the trees I'm getting are coming from my county's Conservation District Tree Sale that they do every spring; it's super cheap and they have a great selection of plants that are known to be hardy in our area. They don't offer persimmons though Maybe I won't put those in this year, when I'm already investing so much into the orchard, but if they are hardy to Z5, I might try them down the road.

I was planning on having raspberries, blackberries and currants in a permanent location at the north side of my vegetable garden, but I could always put a few of those in the orchard as well. Permaculture is new to me and I still can't shake the idea of a traditional vegetable garden, but maybe down the road I'll start incorporating more and more of my veggies in the orchard and see how they do. If I put any rasp/blackberries or currants in the orchard, where is a good place for them? Anything I should keep in mind?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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No worries on the vegetable garden. 'Kitchen Gardens' and 'Main Crop Gardens' are a pretty significant component of many, many permaculture systems. Just work on incorporating diversity and try to continually reduce your inputs [energy inputs like tilling and weeding, financial inputs like chemicals, etc etc etc.]

As for the currants, they don't need a massive amount of sun and given the long days and intense summer heat in the great lakes region, you might do well tucking them partly under some tree canopy, on the edges.
 
Lindsay Dunn
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Does anyone have any images/layouts of a fruit tree guild that incorporates raspberries/blackberries/currants? If I do plant the currants under the trees (instead of on the north side of my vegetable garden like I was planning), where would be the best place? Kyrt, you said on the edges - do you mean the edges of the whole orchard (the far east side or the far west side) or the edges of each row? Should I space my rows out even further than I was planning for more light?
 
Erwin Decoene
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Hey Lindsay

I'm a novice tree fruit grower - i'm still adapting my soil, so no opinion on that score.
I have some experience with smal fruits (berries and the like). While i appreciate the fruits, i also grow them to use their leaves and flowers in thee. So for your consideration. Leaves and flowers are also interesting byproducts. Attracting pollinating insects is also a plus.

On a regular basis i use resh or dried leaves of : Blackberry, raspberry, black currants and wild strawberry.
I also flowers of : Elderberry, wild strawberry and tilia in thee.

They have medicinal uses in thee but i just go for good taste - any health benifits are a bonus.


http://www.permies.com/t/3350/plants/Trees-shrubs-edible-leaves

That being said roses, cornus, craetagus, blacthorn, etc.... are traditional (european) hedge plants around orchards. They have edible fruits, medicinal uses, etc..... More important - they can be woven into living - next to impenetrable - hedges - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bocage If it can keep a sherman tank out of the field - it will stop dear as well.


 
Alice Tagloff
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Your layout makes sense to me, but the currants will have a tendency to spread if your not maintaining the new growths very well. So placing them along the edges makes a better sense. Also, consider gooseberries or blackberries for the edge, and getting the thorned variety makes a difficult harvest, but added deer protection, like roses if your fence is going to be largely open. Anything with thorn like that, has a tendency to spread and make briar patches, this includes currants, roses, blackberries, raspberries and a lot of everything else. If you maintain it well, not a problem, but don't be to surprized if they become invasive, and may be a problem between trees that way.

If your going to have a fence line around the entire thing, you might want to consider a vine or something that can be espalier trained along the fence. Like grapes.
And since your growing pears, you might want to consider plums too. A Gage would grow great in your area.
Over chestnuts, unless there's a particular reason for chestnuts specifically, also consider a buartnut or heartnut, both are extremely cold hardy.
Combination, multi-species grafted semi-dwarf trees, used to be much more expensive then they can be found for now. They average now, starting around 30$ and go up, for about 4 foot trees from some places. It's sort of like putting you eggs in the one basket, but you get more variety of fruit for a home garden. http://store.isons.com/ might be in Georgia, but they look the best of all the online nurseries that I've found so far, and their plants are usually zoned 4-9, and when they have sales, it's almost crazy for the size of what they're selling.

But have you also checked your soil? It might not be acidic enough for blueberries, or to acidic for something else you have planned.
Also, be careful of your lupines, some are poisonous, and if you get the edible ones, may cross-pollinate with any wild ones around.
 
Melody KirkWagner
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Thanks for the clarification. Looks like I'm going to have to dig deeper before making my next big plant purchase.


Hey, Kyrt - there's a guy in Puyallup with excellent prices and he'll spend plenty of time with you. He only grows trees he knows thrive here, so not such a broad stock as some of the nurseries. He has apples, pears, Asian pears, plums and cherries - so if you've already got those, this won't be much use to you. The place is Hartman's nursery and it seems to be a one-man operation.
 
John Saltveit
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One thing I would be concerned about is that apple, hawthorn, and pear are all very closely related. Could you stand another cherry, plum, or other stone fruit? I would try to put another species that is less related in there. Like the other responder, persimmon and pawpaw are great. Check to see if they are hardy in the UP.

Are blackberries and raspberries hardy there? Someone from Cincinnati told me that they aren't where he lives, and that is a lot warmer than the UP.

Good luck,
John S
PDX OR
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Melody KirkWagner wrote:
Kyrt Ryder wrote:Thanks for the clarification. Looks like I'm going to have to dig deeper before making my next big plant purchase.


Hey, Kyrt - there's a guy in Puyallup with excellent prices and he'll spend plenty of time with you. He only grows trees he knows thrive here, so not such a broad stock as some of the nurseries. He has apples, pears, Asian pears, plums and cherries - so if you've already got those, this won't be much use to you. The place is Hartman's nursery and it seems to be a one-man operation.

I have some of them, a handful of apples, a handful of cherries, two Asian plums and two European plums, but I'm certainly looking to expand in the future.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Lindsay Dunn wrote:This is really starting to get off-topic - I just wanted some feedback on my layout.

Most of the trees I'm getting are coming from my county's Conservation District Tree Sale that they do every spring; it's super cheap and they have a great selection of plants that are known to be hardy in our area. They don't offer persimmons though Maybe I won't put those in this year, when I'm already investing so much into the orchard, but if they are hardy to Z5, I might try them down the road.

I was planning on having raspberries, blackberries and currants in a permanent location at the north side of my vegetable garden, but I could always put a few of those in the orchard as well. Permaculture is new to me and I still can't shake the idea of a traditional vegetable garden, but maybe down the road I'll start incorporating more and more of my veggies in the orchard and see how they do. If I put any rasp/blackberries or currants in the orchard, where is a good place for them? Anything I should keep in mind?


I don't know if this is to late for you Lindsay but I will make my statements anyway, just incase.

When you are working up a planting plan for an orchard, the prime thing to know is adult height and spread of every species you want to put into your orchard. If you don't you will end up planting trees that never see sunlight directly later in life.
Example; Pecan trees were mentioned, they take up a 60 foot circle when full grown and they reach 70 feet tall, that is a huge shade shadow. Apple trees, some full size ones can be 30-40 feet tall at adulthood and with about the same spread as their height. Peach trees will mature at 20 feet tall, spread will be around 15-18 feet. I have a mature persimmon that is 40 feet tall and branch spread is about 35 feet on it. 

As you can see, you need to know your trees first, how large they will get is important and you also have to remember root systems, they usually do not play nice with each other when in competition for water or nutrients or both.
I like your plan, but It looks like you didn't know these figures when you started your layout.  (Elderberry is a spreading tree that will grow to 40 feet tall in the right conditions, it will add trunks as it grows and these will lean out for light).
 
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Since Bryant has resurrected this thread, let me chime in as well about the whole Backyard Orchard Culture (BOC) philosophy of planting lots and lots of trees and them pruning them aggressively to keep them at size.

When I first came across the videos done by Dave Willson nursery promoting backyard orchard culture, I thought, "This is great.  I'll be able to get that many more trees into my orchard and I can constantly have something fruiting throughout the season."

I took their advise and planted several trees of different varieties in the same hole (or within a couple of feet of one another).

I aggressively cut the trees back during the summer months.

I bought 3 or 4 trees for a space that really only could support 1 full-sized tree, often planting them in a hedgerow with very little space between them.

After following that philosophy for 5 years, I largely moved away from it.  Here's why.

1.  It's really hard on the trees to be constantly hacking them back to keep them at a reasonable size.  Trees want to grow.  They expend a great deal of energy to put on that new growth, only to have someone hack that branch off because it's too long.  Rather than expending that energy on producing fruit, every season they are trying to re-establish a canopy and claim their share of sunlight.

2.  Planting multiple trees in a small space (the one-hole philosophy) turned out to be a mess for me.  One tree always dominates, and one always struggles.   It's similar to those multi-graft trees: one graft tends to dominate while other varieties on the same tree get shaded out and stunted.  The south facing tree would get the most sunlight, would be the first to break dormancy, the first to put on heavy leaf growth, and would quickly overgrow the other 1 or 2 trees in the same hole.  It happened again and again, despite aggressively trimming it back.

3.  Additionally, the trees are all lopsided.  If you put four trees into a 3' x 3' space/hole, they have only one option --- to grow outward.  So within 4 years, those trees were leaning out and starting to fall over.  I just didn't like the look of that.  There is an element of aesthetics and symmetry that is important for me in my orchard.  I want a tree to look like a tree.  I want to be able to walk beneath it, plant an understory, etc.  BOC philosophy turns trees into glorified shrubs.

4.  Super tight planting diminishes not only sunlight but also airflow.  Fungal diseases are more common when you don't have free air moving through.  Trees need some space between them, but BOC urges you to cram so many more trees than would normally be found in an orchard.

5.  Is it a ploy to get people to just buy more trees?  If so, brilliant.  Further, we know that aggressive pruning shortens the life of a tree.  An apricot or apple shouldn't crap-out after 20 or 25 years.  Yet with BOC, those trees get pruned to death.  If you are cutting them back twice a summer, that's twice the opportunity to spread diseases into the open wounds of the tree.  It messes with the root to shoot ratio that the tree works so hard to maintain, thus causing stress to the tree that is unnecessary.  This isn't thoughtful and selective pruning during the dormant season, but it's regularly cutting back the height and spread of the trees to keep them to a "manageable" size.  And when those super stressed trees die a young death, I'm sure that the nursery is more than happy to sell you more.

6.  You can't tell me that 4 trees instead of 1 tall and healthy tree will give you 4 varieties suitable for your area.  There is better and there is best.  I want to plant the best trees suitable for my climate and soil.  In my own case, I ended up cutting down a number of trees that were struggling, and shouldn't have been planted in the first place.  It thinned the orchard considerably and allowed the best suited trees to thrive.  I bought myself a 12' 3-legged orchard ladder and said, "Screw it" to BOC.  I'd rather have 3 robust apple trees best suited to my yard than 8 that are crowded and struggling, 4 of which that have no business growing here.


I wish I could have the $1000 or so that I needlessly spent on so many trees that ultimately were reduced to firewood and mulch.  Oh well -- live and learn.
 
John Saltveit
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Great post again Marco,
I agree with you. I think it's mostly an effort to get people to buy more trees.  There already was an existing culture of cultivating a home orchard, kept alive by the Home Orchard Society, among others.  Like so many things in our culture, companies out to make an extra dollar try to reinvent our culture to their pocketbook's advantage. 

The only refinements to your post that I would make would be to add that there are some very slow growing trees. My American persimmon is 10 years old and it's not yet 10 feet high.  Pruning it every 5 years will keep it reasonable. Yes, theoretically, it could grow to 65 feet high some day, but pruning every 5 years doesn't really harm THAT tree.

Also, in the permaculture tradition, I like to plant trees about as close as they would be in nature, but instead of one species, I plant a variety of different plant families and interspersing mushrooms.

Keep it green,
John S
PDX OR
 
Marco Banks
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Thanks John.

Yes, some trees are slow growing and so they can be "managed" (if that's an appropriate way of thinking about a beautiful, dynamic, living, breathing thing like a tree) with judicious trimming every couple of years.

Permaculture carefully observes nature and then draws upon those observations to mimic as best we can for maximum abundance and ease of care.  Where in nature would you see overcrowded fruit trees being annually trimmed back to a "reachable" height?  Never.  Darwinian survival of the fittest applies to trees --- the one that rises a bit higher in the canopy get the sunlight, while the others are crowded out and eventually die in the shade below.

I've seen what you have observed about persimmons, but from a poor planning standpoint.  I planted my fuyu persimmon at what I thought was a reasonable distance from two aprium (an apricot/plum interspecific) and a cherimoya.  Within 2 years, I knew I'd made a mistake.  The persimmon was wonderfully productive, but all that productivity slowed the growth.  It grows, maybe, a foot a year.  The aprium, on the other hand, are growing like crazy -- 3 feet or so a year.  They are bordered to the west by the swimming pool, so not only are they getting sunlight from above, but the late afternoon sun reflects off the water and they get double the sunlight during those hours.  They have grown absolutely huge.  They fill that space up and are now leaning over the poor persimmon 12 feet away.

Should I hack those aprium back aggressively?  They are just doing what they are supposed to --- and the fruit from them this year was absolutely amazing.

No -- I'll leave them alone and let them grow.  But eventually, my lovely Fuyu Persimmon will be dwarfed by those trees, as well as the aggressively growing cherimoya. 

I'll find a suitable location to plant a new persimmon, but this time, I'll make sure it has no competitors near it.  I don't mind if it grows slow.  I only need about 50 persimmons a year anyway, and that is being generous and giving them away to whomever wants some.  I love the taste of them in the fall, but not so much that I need hundreds of them.  In this way, even if it takes 10 years for those aprium and cherimoya to ultimately overshadow this little guy, I'll still get a harvest enough for my needs.  And by the time I'll need to take it out, my other one (which remains to be planted) should be producing.
 
John Saltveit
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I agree Marco.
It's like we're cooks fine tuning a recipe.
No, I don't want raw onions with raw radish and raw horseradish.
How about a mix of lots of different ingredients?
I think careful tree selection is crucial, especially if one is more oriented toward having an orchard.
It's like it's a human oriented food forest in my case.
If I just left it to nature, I'd have, like you say, giant 75 foot oaks and Douglas firs shading out all my fruit and veg.
Rootstock selection is crucial to set the right height.
I plant a lot on quince and hawthorn, which are naturally dwarfing. Mostly pears.  Partly because I get quince rootstock free every time I prune my quince tree.
The birds give me free hawthorn rootstock.
I will never plant four fruit trees in one hole.
Good for the company selling trees, bad for my orchard.
John S
PDX OR
 
Andrew Mateskon
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Hi Lindsay,

These folks are right, I plant my chestnuts at 50 ft spacing, which is many times the spacing recommended for new orchards, but I want a diverse savanna-style system. They can spread 40 ft.

Blatant self promotion - I'm also in Michigan, zone 5b, and I sell Chinese chestnut trees. These are 2 year old seedlings, and well-adapted to this area. The parent trees are a commercial orchard 15 miles away, blight resistant, no winter kill, all the orchardist does is control weeds. I'm also selling Saskatoon and Siberian pea shrub.

Let me know if I can help, with trees, advice, anything.

Andrew

Legacy Polycultures
Legacypolycultures@gmail.com
 
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