Michael Cranford wrote:1. Thoughts on ordering bare root vs. purchasing in person in containers? We don't have any local growers but the drive out to most is only around 90 minutes. My brother in-law did the whole bare-root thing and his trees didn't survive even 6 months. Maybe just poor care or is there something to that?
2. Standard vs. dwarf: is the added expense of dwarf trees worth it? It would seem like production would be reduced for the sake of convenience but maybe not?
3. Light: I have a few different areas to consider for the orchard, but I have a patch of pasture set apart from my livestock pasture and it makes sense to put trees there if the lighting is right. The biggest problem I have there is that there are some tall trees in front of the area and having observed the space for a few weeks, it looks like the space isn't in full sun until around noon. Do fruit trees need that morning sun to be productive, or would the later exposure be ok? I could clear some of the tree line causing shade issues, but I would prefer to leave as much of my wooded intact as possible as it creates a natural boundary with the adjacent property.
1. Thoughts on ordering bare root vs. purchasing in person in containers? We don't have any local growers but the drive out to most is only around 90 minutes. My brother in-law did the whole bare-root thing and his trees didn't survive even 6 months. Maybe just poor care or is there something to that?
Depends on whether you want to harvest fruit or make pigs or animals do it. I think James' take on this is good, there are different rootstocks and a good supplier like Cummings can help. They may require a larger order but they have good advice on the website for free. I've moved to semi-dwarf with the intention of mixed human and animal harvesting. But this depends alot on what you are going to do in the bigger picture.
Standard vs. dwarf: is the added expense of dwarf trees worth it? It would seem like production would be reduced for the sake of convenience but maybe not?
I have some trees in half-shade and they are fine, but you must must must have varietals that are not likely to get leaf shot or other diseases as mentioned. As I have mentioned in other posts, I am moving away from a standard orchard due to disease concerns to more of an interplanted method. Kind of a balancing act, whether the deer or the bugs are the bigger pest. With semidwarf the deer are less of an issue.
Light: I have a few different areas to consider for the orchard, but I have a patch of pasture set apart from my livestock pasture and it makes sense to put trees there if the lighting is right.
Dennis Bangham wrote:Michael. If you have red clay then you have soil that should have all the minerals you need but get a in-depth soil analysis from a soil test lab. I too suggest reading the soil series written by Dr. Bryant Redhawk.
I don't think amending the soil is needed but maybe a way to get biology into the clay portion maybe good. Maybe spend the first year growing some plants that have deep roots to break up the clay. Rye or alfalfa. Putting animals to graze first is also a good idea.
Suggest looking into trees that have few disease or insect issues. Pawpaw, Asian Persimmons, Jujube and Mulberry are good recommendations. Make sure that you look for low chill hours and ones that are good for your winters.
If you want to go beyond trees try hardy kiwi and hardy pomegranate so you can have fruit at different times of the season.
Michael Cranford wrote:James and Jamin, thanks for the breadth of your counsel: lots of good advice, in particular on the time horizon for ordering as well as counsel around the bare root/container decision. I reached out to a family-run tree farm here in NC that has been in operation for over 100 years, so I'm hoping for good success.
Watering is obviously a big deal. I walked the orchard area today and I think my "Phase 1" tree count will be around 40. So the question is, what's your watering strategy? Time and frequency seem to be all over the place depending on who you ask, and method is a big question as well. Are you using soaker hoses, broadcast sprinklers, large watering cans :)?
Alder Burns wrote:On clay soil, whatever else you do, DON'T dig a big hole and put in all kinds of soil amendments, compost, organic matter, etc. and then plant the tree in that. When it rains heavy the water will collect in the increased pore space in that spot and not soak easily into the surrounding clay, and if this happens during the growing season the tree will quickly drown! I have learned this the hard way on more than one site! Plant the tree into the unimproved clay rather, and add any soil amendments on top as a mulch, or perhaps (especially if they are "nasty" amendments like humanure or roadkill or some such) buried in holes BESIDE and not UNDER the roots. In many heavy clay soils it is often a good idea to plant the trees on shallow mounds, or even little raised beds, and the soil in these mounds can be thoroughly improved since the excess water can drain down and out. The only exceptions might be if the trees are on a pretty good slope, or perhaps the mound portion of a swale, or some other such freely-draining location. This is mostly a problem for young trees, so if your mounds gradually settle and level out as the trees mature it won't be a problem. Some varieties are worse sensitive than others and often grafting rootsocks are chosen for "sogginess" tolerance.