I want peaches...and apples, plums, pears, cherries......and I want them EVERY YEAR! I've been told that where we're at (4 years new here) that fruittrees only produce every 5-7 years. We're at about 4500', arid high-desert. Late frost always hits after trees bud. This was our first year getting peaches from a couple of trees. The apples have produced every year so far, some better than others, but they've all been ruined by coddling moths. So, I have some plans about controlling the coddling moths - hormone traps wrapping the trunks mostly. We finally identified one tree as cherry because it finally produced 3 cherries - THREE!
So, my plan is to layer compost, cardboard, and wood chips - heavy on the wood chips through the fall and winter. I'm also moving my garden into the orchard area so that the orchard forms a "U" around the garden. This is a small orchard - about 30 trees placed close enough to create a canopy. What else could I do to get more production from these trees?
Do you get decent snow cover in the winter? Maybe you could shade the trees in the winter so snow stays around them later into the spring and delays their flowering. Or just shade the ground so it stays colder longer into the spring.
If you want to do annual mulching, I'd do it at the point where the ground is at its coldest (Feb?) so that the mulch holds in the cold and delays the flowering past the frost.
Some thermal mass (rocks) in the orchard could help on chilly nights. As could a hugelkultur bed in a south facing horseshoe shape around the orchard (as long as it didn't collect frost).
Cover above the tree's flowers to protect them from the radiant cooling on spring nights would likely help. But I'm not sure how to do that in an easy/perennial way.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
You may want to consider trees that bloom later. If the frost doesn't happen early a later bloomer may help keep the tree from budding and flowering until after the last frost.
hugelkultur bed is an outstanding idea! Along with adding rocks. for thermal mass.
I live in zone 6, so not exactly your zone, but I have some fruit trees that need more protection than others. We get free wood chips delivered to our farm and one place that we put them is between the rows in our orchards. I leave them piled high (3-5 feet) and this has created a micro climate for the trees. I can see a good difference between the trees that are mulched this way and trees on the property that aren't. For example, it's fall here and all the trees that aren't mulched in this fashion have leaves that have turned in color and are falling. Most of the trees that are high mulched have leaves that are still green. Behind that orchard, I have several types of day neutral strawberries growing (in mulch), despite having more than one frost, these strawberries are still producing fruit and have not been touched at all by the frost. Also, we had a drought this year and the highly mulched trees all look the healthiest out of all of the fruit trees on our farm.
As far as coddling moths go, you may want to check on a product called Surround to see if it will fit into your philosophy for pest control/growing.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. -B. Franklin
Thanks Sean. I didn't find Surround on Amazon. I'll look a little further. I don't use any toxic chemicals, but I've tried soap and neem oil. Honestly, it was probably too late when I used those, so I may try it again. I love the idea of garlic. I'm going to try that.