Getting an orchard started in the woods has been a challenge. This was done a tree at a time as we added only one or two fruit trees each year. For each tree, it took a grubhoe to break through the thin but impenetrable layer of forest floor. Next, a hole was dug, another slow process as roots and rocks had to be contended with. Backfill took a large amount of compost. Each tree typically loved its new place while the roots enjoyed the amended soil. And then, after the first year each one of the trees stopped growing.
|Looking down the slope from the grapevines: the fruit trees blend in with all of the other foliage.|
So, forest floor between the trees was broken up with a grubhoe, and roots and rocks pried out. Again, lots of compost was worked into the infertile soil. Since, composted manure has been added each year. Using some of the ideas of permaculture, a variety of plants have been put in.
Different plants are supposed to act as dynamic accumulators, provide mulching materials, or attract beneficial insects. The variety chosen for the area includes shrubs, edible perennials, ground covers, and flowering plants. Click here for a post on the orchard in 2012.
|Bee Balm is looking good.|
|Murphy inspects the orchard from the berm of the swale.|
Several years ago I made a swale, click here to read the post. It is now a pathway and a convenient place to toss branches and twigs fallen from nearby trees. Whether it functions as a permaculture swale, retaining moisture from rain and snow melt and gradually releasing it into the soil is anybody’s guess. We can only hope that this happens because it is too far to lug water to the orchard. The trees have to make do with moisture from rain or snow melt.
|The pile of rocks from making the swale is now a stone wall.|
Happy to say, the orchard is looking better this year. The plants under and around the trees are growing beautifully. No longer stunted, they are now growing to their normal heights. The fruit trees have new growth and their leaves look healthier.
|Red clover and catnip look healthy.|
|Comfrey is tall and flowering.|
It is a challenge to start fruit trees in the woods. You might think they'd be right at home where other trees grow, but that is not the case. It appears that fruit trees are as fussy as garden vegetables. It took years to get those to grow too. Maybe one of these years we will pick fruit in our orchard. We are looking forward to that! -jmm