A Fruit Orchard of Your Own
What an awesome thing it is to be able to stroll outside to your own fruit orchard and pick some fresh fruit for home baking, canning, and preserving, or just a healthy snack! If you have a little bit of land, or even just a nice sunny spot in a big backyard, you could have exactly that!
Planning and Siting your Orchard
Obviously, if you’re going to be installing a fruit orchard, you are going to need the necessary room and sunlight requirements. Fruit trees need a good amount of sunlight to thrive, so that’s where you want to start. In siting your orchard, you also want to make sure that you plant your trees in a location that makes watering easy as well.
You will also want to look at the kind of soil that you have. In my neck of the woods, Southern Oklahoma, we are just about all clay. We had to pay special attention to working extra organic matter into our ground, as well as making sure that we would have decent drainage from the area.
Choosing your Trees
You have to, of course, determine what kind of fruit you will grow. If you’re like me, you might want to grow everything! However, not everything will grow everywhere, so it’s a good idea to do a little research into what trees do best in your area. Something else that you have to pay attention to when choosing your trees, is the species and whether or not it needs other trees with it so that it will fruit.
In my opinion, the best way to get all of this information is to go to the experts in this field. If you have a local nursery, there is usually an expert on hand that can guide you to exactly what you need for a successful fruit orchard. In our case, this season we chose 4 each of apples, peaches, plums, and pears. But, within those groups, we chose species that worked well together and actually needed one another.
You also have to determine the size of trees that you want to grow; full size, dwarf, etc. They each have different space requirements.
Planting your fruit orchard
We actually planned our dig for right after a long soaking rain. We don’t get a lot of those around here and we figured we would take advantage of the soft ground while we had it. Digging through dry clay is not for the weak!!! We planned and measured the distances necessary for our fruit orchard and marked the ground where they would need to be planted. We dug our holes twice as wide as the containers they were in and a little bit deeper.
In the bottom of the hole, we added half a bag of all organic Red Bud Compost, which our local nursery swears by, and also used soil and composted pig manure to fill back in around the trees. We used 2 cups of Myke Naturally Powerful Mycorrhizae, mixed into the soil mixture to assist in the transplant health of our trees. It enhances growth and supports strong root development.
Many of the trees that we purchased had roots that had grown completely out of their containers so we cut the containers away instead of taking a chance on damaging them. Once in the ground, we packed them in nice and tight and staked them off.
Staking is extremely important to young trees at least until their roots have grown and they have a good hold. There are a couple of ways to do this, but we chose t-posts on the north and south with a line tied between both and loosely wrapped around the tree. You want to support the tree, but not strangle it.
When we packed the soil and amendments around the trees, we built up a small wall in a ring around the trees. This created a hollow in the middle and helped us with watering. It allows the water to hold in the area while it is soaking into the ground below instead of running off quickly. After watering them well, we also mixed a root stimulator into a bucket of water and added it to each tree.
Looking to the Future
The worst part of the process for me?…waiting! Our trees are young therefore we are looking at about three years before we actually begin collecting a harvest. That is very hard for me because I am so impatient! But I know that the wait will be worth it because we will have years and years of harvests coming our way. We also plan to continue adding to our orchard and growing it every season.
MORE WAYS TO CONNECT
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