Hi Everyone, I need some opinions/help please. I have bought some apricot and peach trees and I have fenced of half an acre of my horses/sheeps paddock (will be adding more fruit trees next year). I have been bringing in trailer loads of horse manure from off the property and aging everything ready for planting. What I need to know, is should I be planting fruit trees in related groups as in all the apricots together and the peaches together etc, OR should I spread them out so that no peach is next to another peach. I want to keep the fruit fly away as much as possible and I intend on planting veggies etc under the trees. At this time I don't have chickens as foxes are a problem and I don't live on the property to be able to look after them properly. Please note that I'm in Perth Australia so different planting season, it's currently spring here and we have a mediterranean climate so fruit fly are an issue and I DO NOT like chemicals or poisons of any kind so I don't want to spray and all trees will only be allowed to reach 5 feet high so I can easily reach the fruit.
Well first things first here, you aren't going to be able to do much that will keep the fruit flies away in Perth without some sort of trap set up. (I too am against using any commercial chemicals)
The one spray I do recommend you get set up to make and use is Aeriated Compost Tea. When you spray fruit trees with this it does seem to help with keeping fruit flies and other insects away somewhat but it doesn't prevent them completely.
As for planting, I would intermix them in an equilateral triangle pattern for the bees. In this type of pattern you have two corners that would be peach and one apricot, the next triangle would be two apricot and one peach.
The pattern alternates in this style through out the planting area.
This is about as late (maybe into next month too) as you want to plant this year but you can come back in for more planting in the fall.
Hi Redhawk, thank you for that, would you leave room for planting apples, pears, plum and cherries etc in the following years? Also I am big into worm farming, as in 10 square metres big at the moment and enlarging, so there will be plenty of worm castings and worm tea being used.
Peach and apricot can be grafted on each other and most likely they are on the same rootstock.
They also pretty much share the exact same set of virus/fungal infections and bug/borer/etc infection.
So pretty much intermix them.
Half an acre at 15ft centers can fit 90 fruit trees.
46 berry plants that are shorter than 15ft, closer to 5ft is better
Berry plants like
Juneberry, Currants, Jostaberry, Gooseberry, Aronia, Blueberry, etc
I recommend the shorter berries between the taller Peach/Plum so that there is enough airflow and not too much sunlight/root competition.
You soil prep sounds good so far. For soil prep I like the following
Earthworks = Swales/Berms/Irrigation pipes
Carbon = Woodchip, Straw, BioChar, Compost Soil Life = Mushroom Slurries, Worm Tea, Compost, Forest Soil
Mineral = Rockdust, Compost, Sea90, etc
I think that cover crops are also needed and you can harvest and sell your covercrop as vegetables or hay/pasture. In your case as vegetables.
I like a 90% legume
and the rest being onion family, dill/carrot family and thyme/mint family. Daikon Radish gets alot of love from me too.
We did a layout drawing for our orchard area in the equilateral triangle pattern (corners are 15 feet apart) what we do is fill in the type of tree as we plant, currently we have plum, pear, peach, fig and apple trees planted.
I am making a separate area for nut trees that we plan to plant in the future.
We have raised bed vegetable gardens between the planted trees, and more to install.
So yes I would leave room for any type of tree you want to plant.
If you aren't going to can or otherwise preserve your fruit, you might want to do as s bengi brought up and multi species graft, but if you are going to use dwarf trees (that's what you meant by no taller than 5 feet yes?), grafting on different species/varieties isn't the best long term method.
If you plan for grapes use two points on the triangle layout and the line between them, that's how much space 2 mature grape vines will use.
I haven't selected any dwarf varieties, my plan was to keep them pruned to 5 foot high so I can reach the fruit (no ladder required) and any excess fruit I was going to food trade with other people. I chose each plant so that I had early season, mid season and late season maturing fruit. Considering that apricots are $14+ per kilo in the shops I can't see a problem with being able to swap them for something I haven't grown.
Personally I don't like pruning so I would rather get super dwarfing root stock of just get a normally short fruiting plant like blueberries, aronia or even cantaloupe.
it will be fun pruning all of those plants. I prune my 3 in 1 multi-graft hybrid plum-apricot (pluot), and I am thinking about giving it the axe because it is so much work. If it every get peach curl leave it is a goner for sure. My hybrid peach-cherry-apricot is not being as fruitful as I would like either so it might also get the axe too, but it is probably deficient in some mineral, because giving it some kefir whey from my kefir cheese experiments helped it. I have also observed that the tiny garden snakes like that tree too.
If you plant with a master plan then as your planting you'd have to put that plan on the ground in the field. I'm just thinking out loud. I wouldn't want to have stakes all over a field and have to avoid them and then when it comes planting time to have to convert those plans to realization out in a field of overgrown field grasses. I'm thinking you might want to consider planting them across the field in the order you plant them. You're likely to order them so that you get a variety of fruit planted and in the ground. So plant them in that same order. I'm thinking I'd likely order the varieties I most liked, or my family most liked first. If you planted them closest to the home site then they'd be the ones easiest to pick. And watch over. You could of course move over one triangle as you're out there planting.
I think you should reconsider the five foot trimming height. When the fruit is hanging on the limbs they will sag down. Those that don't sag probably don't have the fruit. If you're five feet high you can pick a fruit 6 feet high. So I'm thinking a 7 foot high branch will sag to a six foot picking height.
I have deer here, lots of them. I see them standing on their hind legs eating the buds, the leafs. I never actually saw them picking fruit off a tree, but I watch them saunter over to an apple tree. And then one realizes there's apples laying on the ground and they move faster, the other goes faster, and then they're all running to get to the apples. I never measured how high but I've trimmed the bottoms of the tree where there's nothing left but bare twigs and branches. When I'm done cutting the bare branches it's now easy to ride my mower under the tree. I'd guess about five feet high.
But then I don't know that you have deer and I don't know if you also want the children picking the fruit. I'm just thinking out loud.
New information is coming out on a safe method of killing fruit flies (specifically spotted wing drosophila but I believe this is applicable to all drosophila). It turns out they are attracted to the erythritol in truvia - a stevia sweetner and that when they drink it it shuts them down. They slowly lose their functions and die with a few days. Fruit flies are tremendously "fruitful" and can produce many offspring in just a day or two, but with their bodies shutting down, I would imagine it would severely limit their reproductive success. Definitely worth a try!
As far as groupings... If they are in the same 1 acre space, bees should adequately pollinate them. We group our orchard trees together for picking and asthetic reasons - we site according to harvest date, tree height, and fall leaf color. If you had mechanical equipment coming through, that may also effect your choice.
Rare edibles, honey bees, and wildlife habitat
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