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North facing orchard

 
gardener
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Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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The only place available on our land for planting our forest garden is a north facing slope, and yes, I know that is not ideal but its what we have. It tends to stay frosty hours after the surrounding land has thawed. I put in swales in the hope that cold air would roll down into them. What else could I do to help the situation.  We are a sort of zone 8. Ish. I think.
 
pollinator
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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For sun loving plants, then I would space them further apart then if they are on the south facing slope.  This is to maximize the available sunlight.  I would focus on frost hardy plants & trees.  No point getting a good frost and your trees die.  You will need to think about the spring frosts that can damage the flowers.  So frost hardy in the spring time is important to consider when choosing plants.  I would plant more trees that are zone 7 hardy than more tropical trees.  Since you are in Spain, I assume your climate is dry, so choose trees that can thrive in dry climates
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Michelle Bisson wrote:For sun loving plants, then I would space them further apart then if they are on the south facing slope.  This is to maximize the available sunlight.  I would focus on frost hardy plants & trees.  No point getting a good frost and your trees die.  You will need to think about the spring frosts that can damage the flowers.  So frost hardy in the spring time is important to consider when choosing plants.  I would plant more trees that are zone 7 hardy than more tropical trees.  Since you are in Spain, I assume your climate is dry, so choose trees that can thrive in dry climates



Thank you for that. We were also going to put fleece over the fruit trees at night. Actually, our part of Spain has long wet winters and long dry summers. If you look at desertification maps as they march across Spain, they pass right by us. We love our little soggy corner up here!
 
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Amanda, not sure what you mean by "swales", but if you put trenches going up and down a hill there is the issue of erosion.  We get the occasional few downpours during the winter that can really do some damage when the surface water gets running.

North facing is not so much about temperatures as it is about direct sunlight.  Once your trees mature and get taller they will be more in the sun?  Unless you have some really giant trees on the edges creating shade?  Plus in the summer the sun will be high in the sky and will probably give your north side enough sunshine.

Not sure how many fruit trees you want to plant, but try putting some reflective surfaces under them in the spring to bounce the light back up at the trees.  A silver lining on a tarp, or clear plastic corrugated patio panels reflect amazing amounts of light (not the colored or opaque off-white ones) and you could use them later for something after the trees get taller.  Those foil covered heat blockers that go inside cars against the windshield reflect a ton of light.  Paint some boards or pieces of plywood with glossy white paint.  Glass might be too risky to put out in an orchard, but there are plenty of reflective surfaces.  

Fruit trees actually need a good number of chill hours during the winter to produce fruit, so don't try to warm it up in the late fall and winter.  Be sure to match up your winter chill hour total with the fruit tree that only needs that much.  We get maybe 400 hours of chill, where I am, and any fruit tree that needs 400-700 chill hours won't produce fruit for me (which is a lot of the heirloom types.)  And about pollination, there should be a list for which other types of trees will pollinate the one you want.  Two of the same tree won't pollinate each other.  But the pollinator needs to blossom at the exact same time, or there won't be any fruit.
 
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