I started my garden with a little planning. I thought, “How hard can it be?” As various problems unfolded over the years, I realized that when I first started many issues could be avoided with a little planning and research.
I eventually came to know that my lack of experience and the way I set the orchard had caused the most problems.
If I could do all this again, there are many things I would do differently, but that is the beauty of laughter. If you are considering planting an orchard, then let my mistakes guide you to healthy trees and big crops that will feed your family for generations.
Benefits of the scheme ahead
You can plant an orchard without any advanced planning as I did and still get a good harvest, but planning before you start will make your future success a lot easier.
By following these tips, you will not have problems. You will not have to do the job again and again until you get them right. Your trees will be happy and will provide you and your family with their fruits for generations to come.
In addition, you will not have to use chemicals and sprays as the trees will be healthy and have the ability to fight most pests and diseases before catching them.
Once you are sure that you have got all these steps, check our guide to start an orchard for the basics.
1. Plant saplings at the right time
When I first moved into my house over a decade ago, I got the right to plant a garden. With very little planning, I started transforming a large area of land into my own fruit-growing paradise. I dug holes, planted 35 young trees, and watered them diligently.
I had walked into my homestead in the summer when it was scorching, and the ground was hard, but being a curious beginner, I could not wait to plant my fruit trees. You should not make that mistake here.
When you plant in summer and the land is hard and dry, it is very difficult for the roots of the tree to get water and nutrients. Even established plants can go into a little shock in summer. However, the difference is that their roots have grown and managed to reach depths in the soil where there is still moisture.
Plant your trees in late winter, early spring, or fall. Depending on your area, you may need to wait for the ground to soften from the cold of winter, but you will have to beat the summer heat and drought.
It took an age for my trees to show growth, and this is due to the stress I felt when I planted them at the wrong time.
2. Plant Heritage Fruit Trees
This may be a view not shared by others, but I prefer planting heirloom trees on top of grafted trees. There are several reasons.
- The right tree for your area: Originally, trees grew in your area because they were adapted to all conditions of the environment and the land. Over time, the desire for convenience and perfect fruit took over and grafted varieties were introduced. Heritage trees that adapt to your environment will be strong and will produce large, problem-free crops.
- Less Pests and Diseases: Heritage fruit trees receive fewer pests and diseases, as they are adapted to the area and do not need to be adapted to strange pests. After plaguing my gardens with a variety of diseases, I planted some inherited trees. They do not suffer from any problems, as they are not expending energy trying to adapt to the circumstances of their region. They are strong and healthy.
- Better Taste: Over time many beneficial varieties have lost flavor as it was sacrificed for other benefits. Heritage fruits have sharp, distinct flavors that have not changed over time.
Initially all the fruit trees I planted were cut down and they all suffer from many pests and diseases, which means I have to suffer a spray program or fruit. I prefer to grow non-spray, but with my grafted trees, this is impossible. Some of the recently planted heritage have produced the perfect fruit that does not require any type of spray.
3. Dig hole twice the size of rootball
This is advice you may have read before, but it is a basic rule that you should follow. When starting your garden and planting trees, dig a hole twice the size of the root ball of the tree and twice as deep.
As I said, I planted my trees in the summer, and the ground was hard. This caused two problems. First, the trees were stressed, and second, the ground was so hard that I only dug or slightly enlarged the root-sized hole.
This meant that I had to rub the roots in a round that was hard and dry. All those trees survived, but growth was interrupted for the first few years.
4. Think about your mower
You will always get advice on how to give your trees a place to grow well, which is good advice. This enables airflow and gives the roots plenty of space to find nutrients.
I spread my trees all over, but what I didn’t think was going to be my ride. The space between the trees is fine for them, but I have a lot of trouble with my mower because of the landscape.
You should also keep your mower in mind. The easiest way to do this is to imagine yourself cutting grass under and around trees. For the first three years, I did not do this, and when the trees were laden with fruits, they would hang down, and I could not get under them with a mower. I also continued to pat the green fruit.
This leads to our front end.
5. Learn to Prune
Before you need to prick, you must learn to do it. I tried to learn by reading and watching some YouTube videos. As a result, I did not prick very well and when I finally found out it took me a few sessions to rectify my mistakes. If I had already learned, I would not have had to wait to do so once the tree had grown.
Find a reputable source for learning Prune. For a comprehensive guide on the basics of pruning, read our article here.
Correct pruning ensures healthy and tree, good harvest.
6. Choose the right varieties
This may sound obvious, but often the places you buy fruit trees are chains that get similar trees where they belong. So why does he talk while starting an orchard?
I went to a local big box retailer and bought several trees, only to find that cherry, almond and avocado trees would clash in my area.
Apples, physios, mandarins, grapes, plums and passionfronts flourished. I have fruit trees that have grown in reasonable proportions, but they do not produce any fruit because they do not like my environment.
Research what fruits grow well in your area and buy only those.
7. Know how your trees will grow
I went out and bought apple trees and planted them together. I did the same with pears, peaches, plums and citrus.
Now I have some trees that face the sun that are much taller than the ones behind. The trees in front stop the sun from the small trees, so that they have to work hard to produce fruit. They all stutter and are not as elated as they should be.
Make sure you know how big your trees will grow once they mature and plan accordingly.
8. Get the Bees
Once I worked through my mistakes to make my orchard healthy and prolific, I was getting a good harvest of fruits through all seasons.
At my seven of the year, I started beekeeping. There can be far more things than I imagined. Those hard-working pollinators in the garden noticed that my trees produce so many buds and flowers, I cannot live with the amount of fruit we were harvesting.
After seeing the difference of bees, I first got hives, and then planted my garden. In this way, the trees will benefit from all pollination in one season.
If you do not have the space or desire to keep bees, do whatever you can to attract them. Our guide to flowers that attract bees can help.
9. Learn can to fruit
You do not need to learn this before you plant an orchard, but it certainly helps. Even the problems I caused with my orchard, we had a lot of fruit in those initial two years, much of it wasted.
If you know how your surplus can begin, you will experience it by the time the trees are producing very large crops.
Set up networks with friends, family and neighbors to share, swap, and learn from each other.
10. Invest in a garden ladder
For the first few years, I took my life and mobility into my own hands and used chairs or a standard ladder to pick up fruit and prune. I left high fruit for the birds and effectively I did not have as much as I should have.
When I think back I am shocked.
The Orchard Lad is designed to be stable without being lean on anything and usually has a very broad base and a tripod design to cope with uneven and rugged ground in gardens.
Most have a flat top so that you can rest your basket or box while you fill it with fruits.
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