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How much fruit production with the Dave Wilson method?

 
pollinator
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Erica, how is the Dave Wilson style 'quartet planting' fruit production coming? Enough to supply your 'canning' needs? (I doubt it, but had to ask :) Any non-performers? It's been 4 yrs now... answer is probably too long for here, but a quick sum up? And a longer report on your blog? ox
http://www.nwedible.com/backyard-orchard-culture-designing/

 
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nancy sutton wrote:Erica, how is the Dave Wilson style 'quartet planting' fruit production coming? Enough to supply your 'canning' needs? (I doubt it, but had to ask :) Any non-performers? It's been 4 yrs now... answer is probably too long for here, but a quick sum up? And a longer report on your blog? ox
http://www.nwedible.com/backyard-orchard-culture-designing/


Hi Nancy,
This is probably the most asked for update. It's hard to be enthused about writing an update because the answer is....I honestly think the jury is still out. If I compare the quartets to more traditional espaliers, I have more disease pressure in the quartets and less fruit production. My observation is the hard pruning, rather than encouraging "fruit bushes" just encourages massive leaf canopy growback. Fertility in this area of my garden is very high, so I think the trees can just pump out green mass almost without cost. It also increases the chance of mispruning - which I've done and chopped off next years crop - a few more times than I'd care to admit.

What also is REALLY obvious with this method is which varieties are dogs. I don't spray beyond a little DIY dormant oil, so if one tree is more prone to disease/insect attack, etc. it's really clear. One apple tree will be fine and the one literally growing in with it will be covered with spots. I've culled....um....2 or 3 trees, as I recall....for under performance issues compared to their neighbor trees - I'm just not interesting in trees that need a lot of babying or a spray regimen.

But, what's important to remember is that this technique does not sell itself as a method for massive yields all at once, for canning. It's more about smaller qtys of fruit over a longer period of time. And as much as I'm complaining - the truth is, with the exception of two boxes of peaches and two of pears I purchased from a local farmer, yes, all the fruit I preserved this year was homegrown. And it was a MASSIVE year for early apples and plums. I filled...um...I think 8 half-gallon jars with dried plums, made something like $350 worth of dried fruit leather with apples, made 6 gallons of plum wine and 3 gallons plum cider...I mean it was a GOOD year for fruit. But, the majority of that did not come from the quartets. It came from stand alone, espalier, or our columnar trees.

So...honestly? Big meh on this technique so far. Next year if I'm not more impressed we will start culling/regrafting trees, most likely.
 
Erica Strauss
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I'd love to hear an update, too! Also, how are your hugels (http://www.nwedible.com/half-ass-hugelkultur/) producing--they're now over 3 years old!



The hugels have all been converted out of annual production and into perennials. They rock my f-ing world. In fact, as I rebuild "normal" raised beds, I make them secret hugels. Shhhhh - don't tell, there's wood buried under there.
 
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Hey Erica, with regard to "In fact, as I rebuild "normal" raised beds, I make them secret hugels.", I have to say I have done this in some of my larger containers too! I guess I'm not as crazy as I thought, or at least I'm in good company.

I do have a question about the hugels, though....I mean, the point is to put the wood in there and it ever so slowly breaks down and feeds the soil and in the meantime helps retain moisture, right? So what happens when it quits working...the water retention part. At some point aren't you going to have to dig it all up and re-do it? Yep, this is one of the questions that keep me up at night.

Thanks!
Barb
 
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Location: Ben Lomond, CA
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I'd love to see some current photos of your hugels, Erica! What kinds of perennials are you growing on them?
 
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Barb Stork wrote:Hey Erica, with regard to "In fact, as I rebuild "normal" raised beds, I make them secret hugels.", I have to say I have done this in some of my larger containers too! I guess I'm not as crazy as I thought, or at least I'm in good company.

I do have a question about the hugels, though....I mean, the point is to put the wood in there and it ever so slowly breaks down and feeds the soil and in the meantime helps retain moisture, right? So what happens when it quits working...the water retention part. At some point aren't you going to have to dig it all up and re-do it? Yep, this is one of the questions that keep me up at night.

Thanks!
Barb



Hey, Barb. I do the same thing. I bury wood, etc. under *everything.* I haven't had them long enough to break down, but it seems clear to me that it would leave behind a compost-rich, water-loving soil. It won't hold water as well as it did when the wood was still soggy and rotting, for sure. The ground level should also sink a bit. I'm thinking that for annuals, I'll rebuild. For perennials, they'd better just appreciate what they have.
 
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