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Backyard Orchard Culture

 
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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Does anyone have experience with the approaches advocated in Backyard Orchard Culture and the book "Grow a Little Fruit Tree?"  Specifically, they advocate using pruning, especially summer pruning, to keep fruit trees small so that they are more manageable both in terms of size and yield.  I find the approach appealing partly because I want to stuff more into my suburban 0.5 acre than will easily fit.  I recognize the downside of increased need for pruning, but pruning is a chore I enjoy.  

Dwarfing rootstocks aren't a great fit.  In general, I understand that fruit trees on dwarfing rootstocks (especially heavily dwarfing rootstocks) are generally poorly anchored and often do a bad job with extracting water and nutrients (requiring more irrigation and fertilization, things I would like to minimize).  Even more importantly, I am in Zone 3 in Northern Maine and the local nurseries (and a number of other sources I encounter) indicate that the dwarfing rootstocks have hardiness problems in this region, resulting in significantly more winter kill of otherwise hardy trees.  Given the long-term investment in getting fruit trees into production, I don't want my trees dying in a hard winter so I feel like we really need to stick to standard rootstock (for apples in particular).  

Apple trees are particularly significant for me, because my understanding is that they are the only fruit tree that will consistently bear up here.  Other types of fruit will survive, but you will often lose the crop due to late frosts, etc.

For context, we just moved to Maine this fall and I am planning out what we are going to do with our property.  I hope to get a good fraction of our fruit trees planted in the spring so we can get started on the wait for fruit.
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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What they are promoting is upper half Bonsai style pruning, it works quite well as long as you keep on top of it. What you have to know is which years growth forms fruit, some are first year growth and some are second year growth for setting fruit.
Get that wrong and you will have a nice tree that never bears any fruit.

Fruit trees that are made as Bonsai do quite well and do bear fruit but these trees are also root pruned every year or two. In California I had two citrus trees and two apple trees that I made into Bonsai, the lemon always had fruits on it as did the grapefruit, the apples also did quite well.
The key when you do this style is to remove most of the fruits so the tree branches will survive the weight.

Redhawk
 
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Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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If you're in Maine you should be aware that there's a company in your state that does a big business raising and selling trees and other plants. I'm talking of Fedco Trees. They also have an Apple Grading Chart. It's my opinion that you never want to buy orchard stock grown farther south than where you live. These guys for you are southerners but relatively close. I'm always afraid to buy plants grown in the deep south and have to get them thru the first winter.

They sell trees and they also sell apple rootstocks and scions for apple varieties. They seem to me to do things differently than most other orchardists. They sell most of their apple trees on Antonovka and a few on M111 rootstocks. These are two of the biggest rootstocks available. From what I read they use these because they're hardier in Maine. They also sell over a dozen apple trees that they recommend in Zone 3. Most of those apples seem to me to be the older varieties. The exception being Honeycrisp.

If I wanted to grow a variety of apples in your climate, with space a consideration, I think I'd pick out the hardiest rootstock and grow one tree with those varieties all grafted to that one tree. I'd talk to them. See if they'll do a custom graft for you. Consider the price. Say you want 4 varieties, at their catalog price that'd be $121. If I were in the grafting business I'd be thrilled to get that money out of one graft. You would be vulnerable to losing your entire orchard if that one tree dies. I'm thinking you suggest to them that they find an old overgrown rootstock and graft your varieties to that. Say they had a 3/4 - 1" caliper rootstock. 4 sounds like maybe to many for that size but maybe 3, at least two. They're probably busy now and they start selling scions and rootstocks in January or so. In between they may have time to talk to you. There's also the possibility that they'd let their grafter do this for you. If I had to make this "Frankentree" It'd take me a couple years at least to do the multiple varieties on one tree. I did my first grafts last spring and had a 100% success. But then I tried to graft a second variety to one of those grafts and can't get the hang of a "T-Bud" graft.

I'm thinking that you grow big trees because they're hardy and then trim them to be 8 or 10 feet high. I'm thinking 3 or four varieties on one tree would take less space than the same number of smaller trees.

To order a catalog call (207) 426-0090.
 
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Posts: 2389
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Half an Acre is 21,000 sqft.
If you plant at 10ft centers (100sqft) you can fit 210 plants
If you plant at 15ft centers (225sqft) you can fit 90 plants.

I like using 15ft centers aka 90 plants.
My plant list would be
40 Hazelnut trees, they only get to 15ft tall without pruning giving 25lbs of nut each, and provide all the calories 4 people would need for a full year
2 Asian-American Perssimon (nikita/etc) they only get to 15ft tall without any pruning
2 Pawpaw, Sunflower and Prolific only get to about 15ft and grows slowly due to the early and bontiful harvest
2 Medlar, they are closely related to apple-quince-pear
2 Quince, naturally short and resilient.
1 Sweet CrabApple (Callaway\Dolgo\Kerr\Transcendent\etc on it's own root or https://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/?cat=Crabapples)
1 Apple (15ft https://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/?listname=apples)
2 Pear
1 Cherry (15ft, Even though there is only 1 "hole" you can plant two plants in it)
1 Apricot (15ft, get self-fertile if you are not going to do the 2n1 hole trick)
1 Plum
1 Peach
1 Nectarine
1 Almond (Technically Almond-Peach Hybrid to survive in our climate, 15ft)
2 Elderberry (8ft)
2 Jujube (6ft)
2 Dwarf Mulberry (9ft)
2 Honeyberry (6ft)
2 Seaberry (9ft, to harvest it you cut off the branches so effectively pruning it)
2 Aronia (6ft)
2 Juneberry (Regent only get to 4ft and Prince Edward 9ft)
2 Goumi (6ft)
2 Raspberry (6ft)
2 Jostaberry (5ft, technically you have 450sqft so technically space for 18 not just 2)
2 Blackberry (6ft, the combined unused berry space will most likely go towards your 1000sqft house)
2 Blueberry (6ft, even better yet if you can turn the unused space into a greenhouse)
2 Akebia Vine
2 Artic Kiwi Vine (only gets to 10ft high, 20ft wide (10ft left and 10ft right)
2 Hardy Kiwi Vine (100ft, so you will have to prune)
2 Grape Vine (100ft, so you will have to prune)

I don't really like the idea of pruning or climbing trees so I like to get dwarf fruit trees.
Innoculate all your plants before planting
Add carbon to your soil, and also mushroom slurries and worm tea.
Even if you think you have zero need for a swale/berm still build one or a few
Don't forget your ground cover

Dutch Clover (Nitrogen Fixer, I can walk on it, and it only get to about 6inch to 12inches)
Mint/Thyme Family (Insectory Plant, so
Onion/Garlic/Clive Family (Control soil pest/nematodes)
Dill/Carrot Family
Diakon Radish
Edible Mushroom (Winecap growing on wood chip, Oyster growing on strawbale)
Strawberry (technically it doesn't really do much, but I LOVE THEM)

Don't forget a beehive.
While the Ochard take a year or two to fill in the space you can grow, vegetables in between the trees.
And once the trees mature and you figure out which ones you dont like or does not like your soil you can kill it and turn that 225sqft into a garden bed
I don't have too much faith in the stone fruit sub-family and apples, they get attacked the most.
Sweet Kernel Apricot has edible nuts, so you can eat an unlimited amount unlike other apricot seed which are just medicinal/poisonous. I have found that due to the Apricots being nut the squirels, pick the fruits and rip out the seed, so I wouldn't really recommend them.

There are quite a few shorter tress so I would plant them between the taller ones.

You may have notice that I didn't hve any 80ft tall walnut family plants.









 
Posts: 42
Location: Berkshire County, Ma. 6b/4a. Approx. 50" rain
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Hiya Tricia,

    If you like the size of dwarf trees and want a larger root system check out inter-stem grafting.

Skillcult on youtube has a couple videos on how to interstem graft and a follow up on how they've grown over a few seasons.
a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjcWqLP65HM




 
steward
Posts: 4379
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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S Bengi wrote:Half an Acre is 21,000 sqft.
If you plant at 10ft centers (100sqft) you can fit 210 plants
If you plant at 15ft centers (225sqft) you can fit 90 plants.

I like using 15ft centers aka 90 plants.


That's a great list Bengi.  Don't forget this is a suburban lot so there is probably a house, a garage, a driveway, a sidewalk and probably some other obstacles cutting down the actual available space a bit.  Hopefully still room for 60 plants...
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:What they are promoting is upper half Bonsai style pruning, it works quite well as long as you keep on top of it. What you have to know is which years growth forms fruit, some are first year growth and some are second year growth for setting fruit.
Get that wrong and you will have a nice tree that never bears any fruit.

Fruit trees that are made as Bonsai do quite well and do bear fruit but these trees are also root pruned every year or two. In California I had two citrus trees and two apple trees that I made into Bonsai, the lemon always had fruits on it as did the grapefruit, the apples also did quite well.
The key when you do this style is to remove most of the fruits so the tree branches will survive the weight.

Redhawk



Thanks Redhawk!  That is really helpful feedback.  I actually have a Meyer lemon I have kept in a pot for a number of years with pretty good results as well.  No fruit this year though.  I ended up pruning it off while pruning the tree to make it more compact before moving it across the country.
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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John Duda wrote:If you're in Maine you should be aware that there's a company in your state that does a big business raising and selling trees and other plants. I'm talking of Fedco Trees. They also have an Apple Grading Chart. It's my opinion that you never want to buy orchard stock grown farther south than where you live. These guys for you are southerners but relatively close. I'm always afraid to buy plants grown in the deep south and have to get them thru the first winter.

They sell trees and they also sell apple rootstocks and scions for apple varieties. They seem to me to do things differently than most other orchardists. They sell most of their apple trees on Antonovka and a few on M111 rootstocks. These are two of the biggest rootstocks available. From what I read they use these because they're hardier in Maine. They also sell over a dozen apple trees that they recommend in Zone 3. Most of those apples seem to me to be the older varieties. The exception being Honeycrisp.

If I wanted to grow a variety of apples in your climate, with space a consideration, I think I'd pick out the hardiest rootstock and grow one tree with those varieties all grafted to that one tree. I'd talk to them. See if they'll do a custom graft for you. Consider the price. Say you want 4 varieties, at their catalog price that'd be $121. If I were in the grafting business I'd be thrilled to get that money out of one graft. You would be vulnerable to losing your entire orchard if that one tree dies. I'm thinking you suggest to them that they find an old overgrown rootstock and graft your varieties to that. Say they had a 3/4 - 1" caliper rootstock. 4 sounds like maybe too many for that size but maybe 3, at least two. They're probably busy now and they start selling scions and rootstocks in January or so. In between they may have time to talk to you. There's also the possibility that they'd let their grafter do this for you. If I had to make this "Frankentree" It'd take me a couple years at least to do the multiple varieties on one tree. I did my first grafts last spring and had a 100% success. But then I tried to graft a second variety to one of those grafts and can't get the hang of a "T-Bud" graft.

I'm thinking that you grow big trees because they're hardy and then trim them to be 8 or 10 feet high. I'm thinking 3 or four varieties on one tree would take less space than the same number of smaller trees.

To order a catalog call (207) 426-0090.



Thanks John!  Fedco Trees is great.  That is actually where I am getting a lot of my information.  I agree that I would rather use a nursery north of me, but that's mostly not feasible as anything North of me is in Canada.  (Actually quite a bit of Canada is warmer than it is here.)  Fortunately, Fedco has test sites quite near me and sells a number of varieties that actually come from this area.  

We're not so space constrained that I need to go with multigraft trees.  In fact, I should be able to fit in close to 20 full-size fruit trees.  That actually gets me most of what I want but doesn't leave me much space for experiments.  My husband actually grew up on an apple orchard.  He has a generally poor opinion of multigrafted trees as you tend to lose varieties off them over time.  The grafts are weak points that tend to fail and they can be challenging to manage since one variety will almost always outrgrow the others.  I have heard somewhat similar opinions about the backyard orchard culture approach of planting multiple trees into one hole.  Unless you are so space constrained it is the only way to make it work, it generally makes more sense to grow separate trees so you aren't always fighting to keep one from outgrowing another.  

The other thing is that I feel like the proponents of backyard orchard culture have good points about smaller trees being more manageable since you can harvest, prune, etc.  from the ground and matching crop size to your needs.  300 lbs of a good storage apple may be great.  But an early summer apple, plum, nectarine, etc that will only keep for a few weeks at most that is just too much fruit.  We won't be able to use it.  If it is high on the tree it is hard to harvest.  And ultimately it drops to the ground, makes a mess, supports coddling moth (or equivalent for different species), attracts yellow jackets and becomes a management problem.  Better to have a smaller harvest over a longer season from more varieties at a convenient height.  
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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Kamaar Taliaferro wrote:Hiya Tricia,

    If you like the size of dwarf trees and want a larger root system check out inter-stem grafting.

Skillcult on youtube has a couple videos on how to interstem graft and a follow up on how they've grown over a few seasons.
a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjcWqLP65HM






Thanks Kamaar,

Interstems definitely add flexibility, but I don't think it is going to be a good fit for this location.  It's more than the root system here.  Most of the dwarfing rootstocks are only hardy to zone 5 or maybe 4.  We're in 3.  The rootstocks just winterkill.  Higher grafts and interstems would be a mixed bag from that perspective.  On the one hand, the lowest part of the trunk is typically the least hardy and hardens off last so you may get a bit of additional hardiness by being further from the roots (there is some discussion of high grafts for northern areas for that reason).  However, moving it higher on the tree may bring it out of the snow cover making it more likely to winterkill in a typical winter (rather than the rare one here with limited snow cover).
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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Mike Jay wrote:

S Bengi wrote:Half an Acre is 21,000 sqft.
If you plant at 10ft centers (100sqft) you can fit 210 plants
If you plant at 15ft centers (225sqft) you can fit 90 plants.

I like using 15ft centers aka 90 plants.


That's a great list Bengi.  Don't forget this is a suburban lot so there is probably a house, a garage, a driveway, a sidewalk and probably some other obstacles cutting down the actual available space a bit.  Hopefully still room for 60 plants...



Mike Jay is right on.  Probably less than half of our property is appropriate for planting trees on.  In addition to the house, garage, oversized driveway (some of which is coming out eventually), space for annual vegetables, etc., we have a line a of mature spruce along the SW edge of a long narrow lot and a mature red pine and paper birch in the East corner all of which cast a lot of shade.  When I tracked the sun at equinox most of the yard was partial shade.  I haven't had a chance to watch it at the summer solstice, but 33% more daylight hours and a higher sun angle should push a lot of it to full sun.  I think the sunnier bits should be appropriate for fruit trees, but lean towards keeping generous spacing around my fruit trees.  It lets that get more sun since they won't shade each other and also keeps them competing for water.  We have very sandy, excessively drained soil.  Fortunately, it is paired with good rainfall (nearly 40 inches) well-distributed through the growing season (rains every 3 days or so).  We should have enough soil moisture to grow trees without irrigation (except during establishment) but only with robust root systems and plenty of space.  Irrigation is feasible to handle establishment and severe drought, but is not something I want to commit to on an ongoing basis.  
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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S Bengi wrote:Half an Acre is 21,000 sqft.
If you plant at 10ft centers (100sqft) you can fit 210 plants
If you plant at 15ft centers (225sqft) you can fit 90 plants.

I like using 15ft centers aka 90 plants.
My plant list would be




I agree this a really good list, although not all appropriate to my area.  Thanks for taking the time to put it together.  

The challenge is that this is a really harsh climate.  The snow was just melting off when we were house hunting in June and our first frost was mid-September.  We have to plan for temperatures as low as -40F and a very short growing season.  Along with that comes pollination challenges so that some crops that survive here won't bear most years.  I'm going to have a strong emphasis on supporting pollinators in my understory as a result with lots of native insect supporting plants.  Besides, natives are beautiful and carefree.  

40 Hazelnut trees, they only get to 15ft tall without pruning giving 25lbs of nut each, and provide all the calories 4 people would need for a full year.

 Hazelnuts are a good fit for this area and are shade tolerant, so I can put them in areas where traditional fruit trees won't bear.  I'll include 2-3, but 40 is too many for me.  That, however, is a question of goals.  My goal is not self-sufficiency so the calorie crop is less important.  Nuts are time-consuming to process and, realistically, I am not interested in cracking this many.  Also, I don't like hazelnuts *that* much.

2 Asian-American Perssimon (nikita/etc) they only get to 15ft tall without any pruning.

Asian persimmon is definitely not hardy here.  American is marginal.  This is one I would like to grow as an experimental crop.  However, it is a lower priority and space-permitting.

2 Pawpaw, Sunflower and Prolific only get to about 15ft and grows slowly due to the early and bontiful harves  

 Pawpaw is not hardy here.  But I still really want to grow it.  There is a Canadian nursery in zone 3 that has bred PawPaws for zone 3.  However, their seedlings are really expensive.  This is still one I would love to play with once I have the main crops established.  Either I save up and buy a few expensive seedlings or buy a bunch of seeds and kill a lot (what the Canadian nursery did) and see if I can find something that will grow.  

2 Medlar, they are closely related to apple-quince-pear

 Unfortunately, not hardy.  

2 Quince, naturally short and resilient.

 I understand Quince was a standard in southern Maine at one time.  However, it is not hardy where I am.

1 Sweet CrabApple (Callaway\Dolgo\Kerr\Transcendent\etc on it's own root or https://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/?cat=Crabapples)

 Why crabapple?

1 Apple (15ft https://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/?listname=apples)

 The most reliable tree fruit producer in this area.  I plan to have 4-5 spanning the harvest season. Apples are also useful as a fruit that stores well to provide produce during the long winter.  May grow a good keeping variety to full size for larger crop.

2 Pear

 Probably the next most reliable.  They can have pollination problems in this area so it is recommended to plant them no more than 10 feet apart.  I plan to include 3-4.

1 Cherry (15ft, Even though there is only 1 "hole" you can plant two plants in it)

 Sweet cherries are not hardy.  Tart cherries are marginal, but there are some that should grow.  The most reliable variety is one that actually was discovered in this area.  While they may grow, we will lose the crop regularly to late frosts as they are an early bloomer.  I plan to include 1-3 cherries.  They will be planted on a north slope at a north corner of the property and mulched heavily to keep the soil cold and delay bloom.  They are also very attractive trees which makes them a good fit for the front of the house in a suburban area.  

1 Apricot (15ft, get self-fertile if you are not going to do the 2n1 hole trick)

 Some hardy varieties, but don't really like the climate.  Tend to be short-lived here.  Also, they bloom too early and tend to lose their fruit to frosts.  Most reports from northern areas say you can expect a crop once every 3-5 years when things work out just right.  Nevertheless, I'd love to have apricots.  I plan to plant a couple, but recognize they may not be a major crop producer.

1 Plum

 Hybrid plums only for this area.  They are not self-fruitful and pollination can be a problem.  Extremely close spacing (3-6 feet) is recommended to maximize pollination.  I plan to have half of my plums be varieties known for being excellent pollinators and including and American plum (fruit is edible, but inferior) which is purported to be the best pollinator for hybrid plums.  I'm planning on several plum trees.  Exact number to be determined.  
1 Peach Not hardy
1 Nectarine  Not hardy
1 Almond (Technically Almond-Peach Hybrid to survive in our climate, 15ft)  Not hardy

2 Elderberry (8ft)

This is hardy and shade tolerant which means I can plant it where other things won't grow.  That said, I understand it is more medicinal than edible.  I plan to plant a couple.  

2 Jujube (6ft)

 This was one I was not familiar with.  If you know of a hardy variety I would be interested.  Looks like it is zone 6 though.

2 Dwarf Mulberry (9ft)

 I've found one mulberry advertised as hardy to zone 3.  I believe it is self-fruitful and plan to make a space for it (it is actually a weeping variety even smaller than this).  If you haven't grown mulberries before, note that they are *very* messy.  You definitely want to keep them pruned small so you can reach the fruit.  

2 Honeyberry (6ft)

At least 3.  These are from siberia and are very hardy.  

2 Seaberry (9ft, to harvest it you cut off the branches so effectively pruning it)

 Hardy.  I have some concerns about the invasive potential.  Also, may not be a good fit for my site due to strong intolerance for shade.  Less interesting for me as well as it requires processing to be palatable.  

2 Aronia (6ft)

 May be a bit astringent for my taste, but it is hardy and shade tolerant so it doesn't require a prime site, which makes it interesting.  Might be something I try.  This was a new one for my list.  Thanks for bringing it to my attention.  

2 Juneberry (Regent only get to 4ft and Prince Edward 9ft)

 These are a great fit.  They are native to the area.  They are delicious and they bear early in the season when fresh fruit is a welcome treat after a long winter.  These are a must-have in my mind.   They are also shade tolerant.

2 Goumi (6ft)

 Not hardy.

2 Raspberry (6ft)

 Grow as a weed in my yard.  I will be replacing the weedy ones with improved varieties with better flavor, but definitely a good fit.  Some of the best varieties are not hardy here, but this is one where I will push it.  They will still bear after dying back to the ground due to cold weather and don't take too long to establish so aren't a major loss if I have to replace after a hard winter.  

2 Jostaberry (5ft, technically you have 450sqft so technically space for 18 not just 2)

 Jostaberries are marginally hardy for me.  They may be worth considering.  Related plants that I do intend to grow include Gooseberries, red currants and pink currants.  Black currants are also adaptable to my area but are not permitted in the state of Maine because they are extremely efficient transmittors of White pine rust.  Jostaberries also include black currant in their genotype and may not be a good choice for that reason.  All of the ribes are shade tolerant and can be planted under fruit trees, along shady edges etc, which makes them very adaptable for my site.  Also, I like eating them and so do my kids.  All ribes are banned in southern Maine and I was very happy when I realized that ban did not cover our site.

2 Blackberry (6ft, the combined unused berry space will most likely go towards your 1000sqft house)

 Blackberries are marginally hardy, but brambles are tough and quick to establish.  I'll be including them.  I already have a house that I am working around, but it is not a bad planning device if you were starting with a blank site.  

2 Blueberry (6ft, even better yet if you can turn the unused space into a greenhouse)  

 Lowbush blueberry is native here and I will be using it as a groundcover in select areas.  It is also shade tolerant.  Highbush blueberries are not hardy, but there are some lowbush/highbush crosses that are.  You generally want at least 3 varieties with blueberries for good pollination.  

Other fruiting groundcovers include cranberries, lingonberries and wintergreen.

2 Akebia Vine

 This one is new to me.  It is (possibly very) marginally hardy in my area, which may actually be a good thing given its invasive potential and challenges in management.  It is one to give some thought.  I would be curious to learn more if this is something you have grown.  I'm reluctant to plant things that won't behave themselves unless they provide very high value.

2 Artic Kiwi Vine (only gets to 10ft high, 20ft wide (10ft left and 10ft right)

 Marginally hardy in my area.  This is definitely something I am considering.  The best way to incorporate vines into my design is something I still haven't resolved.  I'd be interested to learn about how people are finding appropriate places for them.  They are often space consuming and many of them can be poorly behaved.  

2 Hardy Kiwi Vine (100ft, so you will have to prune)

 Despite the name, not hardy in my area.

2 Grape Vine (100ft, so you will have to prune)

planning to make room for a grape vine, probably over a pergola.  There are limited choices for varieties.
I'm also considering including Groundnuts in my design.  They are another large vine, but they are native to the area and a good calorie crop for minimal work.  Management is a potential issue though because they can be aggressive.
I have also grown Jerusalem Artichokes.  I really enjoy them, they are a good calorie crop and are basically no work.  They are native to the area as well.  However, they are essentially impossible to get rid of once you plant them and do spread.  I want to grow them, but need to have a rock solid containment plan first.  I think I'm going to start by growing them in a half barrel.  I just don't know if they'll survive the winter here in a container.  (They tend to spread through roots rather than seeds)


In general, I have a bias towards native plants unless there is a compelling reason to grow something non-native.  They are adapted, there is not the concern of them escaping cultivation and they are better at supporting wildlife, especially insects (including pollinators) that then support birds and other animals.  
Nannyberry and Northern Raisin Bush are native bushes with edible berries I plan to include.  Both are shade tolerant.  

There are a number of native bushes I intend to include that do not have edible fruit but provide other value:
Red Osier Dogwood
Mock Orange
Nanus Nine Bark
Steeplebush
New Jersey tea

I'm also plan to heavily use native nitrogen fixers (in addition to dutch clover because it is a very convenient plant).

I have a whole list of hardy perennial greens which are adapted to the area, some native and some not.  

I'm planning to coppice an existing maple tree for mushroom logs :)  It is a Norway Maple which is invasive and I do not need to let it grow to full size and cast more shade, but if I can make it be useful...  There are also a couple varieties of edible mushrooms that will grow and fruit on spruce.  We will be thinning the spruce next year and I plan to inoculate the stumps.  This area is very good for mushrooms which a walk around my yard (or even more dramatically the local woods) can attest.

There are definitely a lot of constraints from the harsh climate, but it is actually helpful in it's own way. It provides an easy filter for what is worth doing and what isn't which keeps the number of options from being overwhelming.  There is a lot that I can't use because of the specifics of my site, but there is also an abundance of wonderful things to include in my design.




 
Mike Jay
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One further comment.  Aronia likes it in wetter less well drained areas so it might struggle in your sand.  Elderberry could have the same problem.  I have a well drained sandy food forest and my shrub/tree choices so far have been:
Improved hazelnut
japanese quince (in sun scoop for winter protection)
red mulberry (borderline)
American persimmon (in sun scoop for winter protection)
Hawthorne
Northern Bayberry (not for food but nitrogen fixing candle maker)
Highbush cranberry
Sea buckthorn
Shagbark hickory (borderline)
Butternut
Elderberry (struggles)
Black and red currant (WPBR resistant varieties)  I'm not sure that red varieties are automatically blister rust resistant...
Plums
Serviceberry
Nanking cherry
Cornelian cherry
apricot
Peach
highbush blueberry
honeyberry
aronia (does ok but it's more in a garden location than in the wide open field)
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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Mike Jay wrote:One further comment.  Aronia likes it in wetter less well drained areas so it might struggle in your sand.  Elderberry could have the same problem.  I have a well drained sandy food forest and my shrub/tree choices so far have been:



The advice for sandy soil is really helpful.  I've never lived anywhere with sandy soil before, so I'm used to working with heavy clay soils.  Acid soils are novel too, but I'm looking forward to growing blueberries. I moved here from Madison where we have limestone bedrock so acidifying the soil is essentially impossible.

Northern Bayberry (not for food but nitrogen fixing candle maker)



I really want to grow bayberry.  It's marginally hardy here, but it comes from the coastal area of this region and it is just really cool.  

Black and red currant (WPBR resistant varieties)  I'm not sure that red varieties are automatically blister rust resistant...  



It is not a question of resistance, it is a question of how effective it is at transmitting it to pine trees.  Something about the black currant makes it exceptionally effective at spreading the disease.  Since forestry is the main industry up here and pine is major business, things that negatively affect that crop are a no-no.
 
pollinator
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Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Have you checked to see what the University of Alaska recommends for the Fairbanks area?  The climate is actually somewhat similar to where you are -- it *might* get a little colder in Fairbanks most winters, and they don't get as much annual precipitation.  There are nurseries in Alaska growing plants and trees, including fruit trees, for that climate.  You would have to do some searching and see what you could find, and make sure they can ship out of the state (probably can).  

Kathleen
 
pollinator
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Look into St. Lawrence nurseries in upstate NY. A lot of their trees are hardy to zone 3. If you're unsure shoot them an email and ask.
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:Have you checked to see what the University of Alaska recommends for the Fairbanks area?  The climate is actually somewhat similar to where you are -- it *might* get a little colder in Fairbanks most winters, and they don't get as much annual precipitation.  There are nurseries in Alaska growing plants and trees, including fruit trees, for that climate.  You would have to do some searching and see what you could find, and make sure they can ship out of the state (probably can).  

Kathleen



Consulting the Alaska extension service was a great suggestion.  Turns out Anchorage is a closer climate match than Fairbanks.  Either way, the Alaska extension was an invaluable resource.  They have great advice for fruit trees in cold climates and also highlighted fireweed for me.  It's a native plant that is extremely abundant in my area and is already growing my yard.  I knew the flowers were edible, but it turns out most of the plant is.  That sent me looking for other wild edibles and I discovered that many of the native plants I already know well and was planning to grow are also edible.  An absolute goldmine of easy to grow plants that stack multiple functions.  
 
Tricia Rubert-Nason
Posts: 12
Location: Fort Kent, Maine - Zone 3b
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James Landreth wrote:Look into St. Lawrence nurseries in upstate NY. A lot of their trees are hardy to zone 3. If you're unsure shoot them an email and ask.



Thanks!  They're a good source, although quite a bit south of me.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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Tricia Rubert-Nason wrote:

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:Have you checked to see what the University of Alaska recommends for the Fairbanks area?  The climate is actually somewhat similar to where you are -- it *might* get a little colder in Fairbanks most winters, and they don't get as much annual precipitation.  There are nurseries in Alaska growing plants and trees, including fruit trees, for that climate.  You would have to do some searching and see what you could find, and make sure they can ship out of the state (probably can).  

Kathleen



Consulting the Alaska extension service was a great suggestion.  Turns out Anchorage is a closer climate match than Fairbanks.  Either way, the Alaska extension was an invaluable resource.  They have great advice for fruit trees in cold climates and also highlighted fireweed for me.  It's a native plant that is extremely abundant in my area and is already growing my yard.  I knew the flowers were edible, but it turns out most of the plant is.  That sent me looking for other wild edibles and I discovered that many of the native plants I already know well and was planning to grow are also edible.  An absolute goldmine of easy to grow plants that stack multiple functions.  



I'm glad that was helpful!  I've lived quite a few years in Alaska, and at one time we considered moving to your area, so I was pretty sure you'd find some good information there.

Kathleen
 
Kamaar Taliaferro
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Location: Berkshire County, Ma. 6b/4a. Approx. 50" rain
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Tricia, that is phenomenal insight on inter-stem grafting and its affects on hardiness.

Thank you!
 
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