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Newbie permaculturist needs advice!  RSS feed

 
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Hi all!

I planted 20 bare root fruit trees this past Spring, but this was before being introduced to permaculture. I made some mistakes, and i'm hoping to get some insight from those more knowledgable than myself on how I should proceed.

To summarize:

I planted 4 separate varieties; Gala, Mcintosh, Mt Royal Plum, and Resilience Peach on semi dwarf rootstock (5 of each variety). My first concern is that I planted Gala before learning that they are not recommend in my area due to disease. Next, I planted them in 4 rows with each variety having its own row. Fortunately, I left around 25 ft between each tree so I have the space to interplant. The lot is approximately one acre of open land and I plan to purchase more trees in the spring along with chickens and bees. This week I'm planning to sheet mulch. I planned to only sheet mulch the rows of trees about 48" wide and leave an alley to run chicken tractors and grow some green manure in between. However, I'm unsure this will be feasible long term if I want to get control over the weeds.

Questions I have

1. What should I do with the Galas? I'm concerned they will end up being susceptible to disease and put other plants at risk.

2. Could I sheet mulch in 48" rows with alleys in between or is this not practical?


I plan to heavy seed with a cover crop mix in the spring and will begin to plant between the trees to help suppress the weeds. I also have a list of disease resistant apples, cherries, and plums that I hope to add. Additionally, chickens for eggs and to build up a compost system. I really appreciate your advice!

Johny
 
garden master
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My opinion is that the wrong tree, in the wrong place, which was planted last year is a much better tree than the one that never gets planted cause you are waiting until you know everything so that you can do it right. Great job on planting trees! If the Galas die, or don't bear fruit in a few years, there is plenty of time to chop them out. I have learned that lists from strangers tend to be terribly inaccurate when compared with personal observations on my own farm.

Around here, weed suppression in orchards is done by mowing, and in older orchards by closed canopy. Chickens seem like a viable alternative. especially in an orchard where they can also eat fruit predators and their propagules.
 
pollinator
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I'm with joseph the tree is in the ground let's see what it does , you never know life is amazing :-)
The other suggestion I would make is to get as many different types of trees as you can , this gives you greater resilience to changing weather different soil types pests etc I would also plant at least one quince then long term you can grow your own root stock and if you find an apple or pear you really like grow your own trees by grafting as well as getting some great fruit .
Chicken tractors yup doable lots of folks do it interplanting ditto :-)
We all make mistakes and if I was going to list mine we would be here all day :-) it's normal ,stupid only starts if we repete them :-)
 
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Location: catalonia spain
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Hi Bert! happy new year to you too brother..

Yes I also agree with both david and Joseph.. I too planted about 40 fruit trees last spring. Apples, pears, apricots, cherries, plums, figs, walnuts, nesperos, jingols, persimmons.

We're still in a huge drought and I'm pleased to say that with LOTS os mulch around the bases and a bucket of water every 3 or so weeks to each tree I think I only lost 1 cherry..

My recommendation is, add more variety and yes build a chicken tracktor to clear and prepare where you want to plant next... Just keep on adding bio mass and  planting herbs, bushes, trees, vines, spores, ground covers. ect..

Also a BIG thing is create space for animal life  of all types.. The more bio diversity the better!! Just keep at it mate :)
 
David Livingston
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Marcus what's a jinglos?

David
 
pollinator
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Hi Bert!

I agree with the others, leave the Gala's be. Just because a variety is susceptible doesn't mean it will be infected. Only time will tell you if the Gala's are harboring disease that is affecting the others. It sounds like you enjoy fruit trees and are really getting into it wanting to plant more. I totally get it as I have fruit trees and want more as well. What I recommend is the following book: The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips. It contains tons of information and techniques for fruit tree success.

 
Marcus vandell
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David Livingston wrote:Marcus what's a jinglos?

David



Sorry meant to have written ‘Ginjol’
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jujube
Fantastic hardy rustic tree.. with delicious fruits!
 
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Bert Kreich wrote:Hi all!

I planted 20 bare root fruit trees this past Spring, but this was before being introduced to permaculture. I made some mistakes, and i'm hoping to get some insight from those more knowledgable than myself on how I should proceed.

To summarize:

I planted 4 separate varieties; Gala, Mcintosh, Mt Royal Plum, and Resilience Peach on semi dwarf rootstock (5 of each variety).
Johny



Did you ever talk of visit the county extension agent for your area on their recommendations?
 
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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You can easily get 180plants per acre with 15ft centers (2 plants = 30ft close to the 25ft with intplanting that you are thinking about)

So with an estimated  180 fruit/nut trees you can easily just leave the 5 "bad apples".
My recommendation is to go ahead and plant some more 15ft and less fruiting trees/shrubs/vines.

ROSE Family (they share alot of pest so get fruits from different plant families)
Raspberry
Blackberry
Strawberry
(apple sub-family of the rose family)
Apple (I prefer sweet crabapples or at least redflesh apples)
Pear
Quince
Medlar
Juneberry
Aronia (6ft)
(prunus sub-family of the rose family)
Cherry
Plum
Apricot (Sweet-Kernel from Starkbros variety is actually nut+fruit)
Plumcot/Aprium/Pluot
Peach/Nectarine (these guys require way too much work)


I would plant 25% to 33% of my canopy plants as nitrogen fixers, in addition to a nice nitrogen fixing groundcover (dutch clover)
Grid Layout for a nice Nitrogen fixing plants (in red)


 
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weeds can be a problem. some sort of weed barrier might work well, beware of using wood chips or cypress/cedar mulch. if not composted first it eats up nitrogen and many type of wood chips can attract insects and pests. you might want to introduce biochar into planting holes. it could give your trees the advantage they need to out grow weeds. using a hoe around each of your trees early in the spring is best method for weed control. if your using machines a tiller around each tree is a quick solution to keep weed pressure down. I have tried an all natural approach just letting everything grow for a few reasons but primarily to keep wild critters especially deer from eating my trees. I have lost quite a few fruit trees, for reasons I still don't understand, but the 25% still alive has gained huge growth this past year. Nut tress planted I believe I have lost about 15-20 percent but I planted at 10' spacing knowing I will have to transplant some when they get bigger. and I know that I will need to get another different variety for best nut production and pollonation. Still searching for an inexpensive variety of chestnut that is blight resistant and differnt that the variety that seems to be most predominant which was created at UT and used by many state forestry programs which is where I got mine. but the cost of each of those trees was very low about 50 cents each and I have gotten a old tractor with finish mower that is 5' wide and hope to get it running good enough to work with and will attempt to mow between rows this coming summer. I may have to put hardware cloth rings around each tree if wildlife pressure is too great. I refuse to use gyphosphate or other big pharma/chemical products. I'd rather fight weeds other ways than to introduce poison to my property.

Just my $0.02
 
Bert Kreich
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Wow, thank you for the great info everyone! So a couple takeaways....

* Leave the Gala's and see what happens.

* Increase diversity and biomass. I have checked my local extension and have taken note of their recommendations going forward. I plan to only plant 1 or 2 of each cultivar from now on.

* Experiment with adding biochar to soil


I was able to purchase the Holistic Orchard and gaia's garden. Both excellent sources of information and highly recommended! I also like the recommendation of growing my own rootstock, I will have to do more research on this.

I have some 100% cellulose paper that is 48" wide which I'll be using as a base when I begin mulching next week. My mulch was sourced after a snowstorm caused lots of tree damage in my city. The city mulched it and was giving it away. When I picked it up there was considerable heat and fungi was visibly forming but since I picked it up several months ago its just been sitting and waiting for me to get it spread around the orchard. I don't know the exact content but I'm hoping it will be fine.

Thanks agin for your help!
 
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I would watch for aggressive weeds in that city mulch.  I used some on my asparagus about 6 years. I’m still fighting 6’ tall grass that spreads from ryzomes. I can’t think of the name at the moment.

I’d plant plenty of less conventional trees like persimmon, mulberry, serviceberry, and Che.  The more variety the better. They won’t all be susceptible to the same pests and diseases.

But trees would be a great addition too.
 
Ken W Wilson
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What part of the world are you in?
 
pollinator
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I run my chicken tractor between my berry rows and dwarf and semi dwarf fruit trees.  The chicken tractor is 4 ft wide by 12 long.  Those dimensions are convenient for using 2 roofing panels.  The framing is 2x4s on the bottom and then 3 qubes of 2x2s and the frame for the roof is 3 squares of 2x2s. The back end has a plywood wall the rest is chicken wire.  The back qube is the nest and roosting section with a welded wire floor and divider with wheels underneath so that I can lock them in that section to move them long distances.  I hang the water from the frame in the center of the remaining 8 ft.  I only have to visit them once a day just before roosting time to move the tractor forward 8ft  throw some soaked grain on the ground. They fill there crop to have something for their gizzard to work on at night and fertilize the freshly cultivated ground under the roost.
So basically you stack functions producing eggs and meat on the same land that you are producing fruit while mowing and fertilising for the cost of some grain.
 
pollinator
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A roll of black plastic mulch is a good friend when you've got a lot of land and a lot of weeds.  Yes, it's not "natural", but it will save you a lot of time and moisture.  Spend a bit of extra $$ to make sure it's UV resistant. 

If you're not familiar with Miracle Farms in Quebec, check it out.



Stefan Sobkowiak is amazing, and his system is about the purest form of permaculture I know.  He's been a guest editor on this forum in the past.  He uses black plastic, which opened my eyes to using it myself (which I occasionally do when I need to get rid of a particularly pesky grass or even some mis-planted comfrey.
 
Marco Banks
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Two of my favorites. 



Their advise --- just start something.  Make mistakes -- it's OK.  It's not failure in permaculture, it's feedback.
 
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Location: Beulah, CO
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The general doctrine approach is to fix the soil and water situation first with earthworks, mulch and nitrogen fixers, I'd also suggest adding fungal material.  Apples are a understory tree.  You'll do better with canopy support species to help them along.  I'd look at over-stacking (plant it way too tight) nitrogen fixing trees in and around your apples and other fruit trees.  We over-stack the trees so we can pulse nitrogen into the soil via coppicing and pollarding the less-than-perfect nitrogen supporting trees.  As those sacrificial trees are removed (really chop and drop in-place), you'll leave a few support trees (think honeylocust, or purple robe).  Another added benefit of over-stacking is that the trees will be in competition to grow faster and straighter than without. 

I'd also add peas en masse to the soil to give a quick nitrogen pulse and also think about adding nitrogen fixing shrubs. 

I've also used geoff lawton's recommendation to put cardboard in the planting hole to stimulate mycelium growth.  You could also innoculate your wood chips with garden mushrooms.  Just do some searching on paul stamets.  He has a lot of material on this.    If you're going to get bees, you'll definitely want to do this.  Bees will drink the nectar off of mushrooms which assist their immune systems (which may also be a solution to colony collapse disorder, Yes it's that promising!). 

Like others said above.  It's best to just start doing like you are.  You are going to learn a ton as you go. 
 
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i was just at a 2 acre orchard in cottage grove, oregon where she has many, many trees, at least 100.   this is her third year in ownership and she is regrafting all her gallen trees because they are covered with scab.  i do not know where you are, but serious scab deforms the apples.   in places like eastern washington this is not such a problem.  she uses horsetail tea to help with scab and this works with her other varieties but not the gallens.   i have another friend who has a lot of scabby varieties who used EM from TeraGanix and MycoGrow from fungi perfecti which cleaned up all the scab as well as coddling moth that had plagued his orchard for 47 years.  also he got larger apples.  i like your spacing this allows a lot of "companion plants."  what is your spacing between the rows?  regrafting the trees is easy (if you know how to graft).  you can even put 3 different types of apples on one tree.  most people want their varieties to cover all time periods between early, late and winter keeping aoples. this friend in cottage grove is starting a hard cider business which means she needs some bitter tasting apples.
 
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Hi Johny:  I'm not far behind you.  I was a Permaculturist outside of Las Vegas (Henderson / Boulder City).  Then I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.  I have a suburban lot and planted 25 dwarf bare root trees - many varieties and early-mid-late season ripenings.  I had to plant them in a hedgerow.  Now I'm planning the guild.  I'm thinking of planting bush peas for nitrogen-fixing.  Do you know of a good tap root plant to help with the root zone?   I want to shy away from Comfrey since I'm thinking I don't have the room and want to plant more edibles.  I'm reading the book "The Holistic Orchard" and hope to get my natural sprays ready for Spring:  fish , Neem oil, microbes, BT, and fermented Stinging Nettles.  Any other guild plants that you are considering?  I would love to plant some Acacia trees for chop-and-drop but don't know if I have room???  Chris, Your Fellow Permaculturist
 
Chris Ferguson
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Marco:  What is the distance for over-stacking coppice trees?  I would chop-and-drop them  but don't know of root competition.   I have a plot in suburbia that is 20 feet wide x 40 feet long.  I'm using the recommended sprays from The Holistic Orchard since they are newly planted.  Eventually, I hope the guild takes over Permaculture-style.  Thanks, Chris
 
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Interesting that everyone is talking about the Holistic Orchard, my copy just arrived on Friday.  We are all walking the same path, some are running, some are crawling, and some I think are skipping along to their own happy tune.
 
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