Orchard Planning

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ChiliPalmer, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. ChiliPalmer

    ChiliPalmer Well-Known Member

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    I'm planning out the future orchard, as it will likely be the first improvement we make. I'm no tree expert though and I'm having a little trouble digging up suitable information on all the different varieties. I was hoping someone here knows a good bit about heirloom fruit trees and can steer me to the best varieties and nurseries.

    Let's start with apples. I'll be in zone 3b/4a, so I need something cold-hardy. We'll want a wide selection to cover all purposes, preferably several exceptional varieties each of which excels in one area, such as cider apples, pie apples, fresh eating and storage. But how on earth am I to choose! Just so far the list has Baldwin, Cortland, Liberty, Northern Spy, Red Gravenstein, Winthrop Greening, Yellow Transparent and Kingston Black Cider. Being as I still have to fit other fruit and nut trees into the orchard, can anyone give me more information about these varieties and which ones they would choose to cover all bases?
     
  2. Ramblin Wreck

    Ramblin Wreck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was struggling with the same problem ChiliPalmer, and I wanted a book or pamphlet that would just spell it all out for me. I never found one. Stella Otto's book "The Backyard Orchardist" is a good guide for the beginner, but it provides only general guidelines. Using her book and information from a local nursery that specialized in disease resistent trees in my area, I put in 23 trees last December to start my orchard. If they make it (and the deer and dry weather are taxing them right now), I'll have apples from late June to December, some for eating, drying, sauce, and cooking/baking.

    You indicate you want to use heirloom apples, so I'd try to find a local nursery that specializes in them. Do your research to determine which root stock/tree size you want to use. I settled on M-111, a semi-dwarf stock that is disease resistent and very tolerant of many soil types.

    Some helpful items: Bamboo poles (or whatever you have) cut in lengths equal to the recommended spacing for the trees/root stock you choose, stakes to lay out the orchard per your plan, and an auger to dig the holes.

    I've got space for another 30-40 trees in the fruit orchard, and they'll be a mixture of pears, peaches, figs, apricots, and probably some cherries. I'm going to line my driveway/orchard boundary with dwarf blueberry bushes. Hopefully, I can put a small nut orchard (pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts) in a separate spot.

    Good luck with your planning and orchard.
     

  3. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do you have a college in the state you are in that is/was known from Agriculture? If so, type in the "name of the school".org and see if you can get to their website. If not in your state may a neighboring one...

    Here in NC we have NC State U. They have very detailed lists of var. of nut, fruit and grape that do well in this zone.. Which ones are good for each region of NC.. planting , fert. guides and even pruning details... Hope you find what you are looking for.
     
  4. ChiliPalmer

    ChiliPalmer Well-Known Member

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    I started looking there too, Rambling Wreck. I'm from the orchard area of Washington state, so some of the basics has been beaten into me from childhood. The eventual homesite is to be a ten acre former dairy in North Dakota, God willing and the creek don't rise; haven't found any nurseries yet in ND but I did find one heirloom nursery in Maine. Should be reasonably close enough climate type, all trees started in Maine and cold hardy enough to grow in Maine. Ten acres is cramping my style though and half of that is already taken up by buildings and woodlot. I'm worried that I'll waste space I don't have if I fail to plan for economy from the start. None of this "a few Cortlands over here, some Liberty and pie cherries over there, a Gravenstein and a crabapple by the front porch with the lilacs, peach trees over yonder and ohhhh, let's just throw in a pear and see how it does". No, I need a well-worked plan that covers all I want to do and in minimal space. I'm just sure I'll screw it up.

    And yes, I'm a big stickler for the heirlooms. They have a lot to recommend.
     
  5. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    I'm not familiar with all your apple varieties, but I don't think Gravenstein is good for that growing zone.

    I started writing, then remembered the Fedco catalog. They are based in Maine, and offer many hardy varieties, including a lot of heirlooms. I've heard many good things about them, but have never ordered from them myself (since we live in Oregon now).

    Here's the link: http://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees.htm

    The nursery catalog (and the seed catalog) is a PDF file, a large one, but well worth downloading just for the information.

    Page 7 of the catalog will give you some growing zone information for the varieties of apples they sell, as well as their best uses. The other types of fruits have their information with each variety.

    Have fun!

    Kathleen
     
  6. shawnee

    shawnee Well-Known Member

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    St. Laurence nurseries handles cold hardy varieties. We ordered most of our stock from C and O and Stark nurseries. It helped a lot to know what kind of root stock you wanted. When you order, talk to the folks on the other line - we were given excellent advice; also there is a gardenwatchdog site you can go to and click on fruit tree info. They will tell you who is reputable and who isn't. But, by all means, look up the 3 companies I mentioned above on internet. You will probably run into some good sales now, too.
     
  7. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    You have to plant for cross pollination so your trees need to bloom close to the same time. Most fruit tree catalogs have the charts on who pollinates what, and when they do it. Don't even plan on buying anything without knowing this.

    I planted both semi-dwarf and standards so I would get some fruit within a few years, but still have apples decades from now on the standards.

    North Dakota is pretty rough and calls for a completely different garden science than us coasters use. You may need to plant or use an existing northern windbreak to protect your young trees and use insulated trunk wraps if the snow is not deep enough.
     
  8. Ramblin Wreck

    Ramblin Wreck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No you won't. You'll do fine, and in a few years some little part of North Dakota will have a bountiful fruit harvest coming in because of your efforts. Happy planting.