Planning An Orchard

by Juanita Schulze

Let's talk about planning an orchard page. I'll share how to plan an orchard and how my first one was done wrong. I made a lot of mistakes.

I messed up big time when putting in our 60 tree orchard. We started out right by getting trees for our area. We planted them at the right time. But we failed.

Three things led to the destruction of our orchard:  weather, irrigation and cut ants.

Lets start with the cut ants. The miserable little guys destroyed the trees almost as fast as we planted them. They attacked and kept attacking. We sprayed, powdered and combated them with all sort of organic insecticides. They would strip a tree.  We would kill them. The tree would start to come back and wham-o, they would come back for it again, finally killing it. I have one guy who spends three days a week just looking for them and trying to kill them. We are making progress. They thought they could get away and go to the neighbors yards, come and attack ours and then go back again. But the neighbor gave us permission to get them.

We will replant. The smaller trees we will leave in their buckets until they get bigger. We will also put a tree t-pee on each tree. This way we can put whatever we want on the tree t-pee and be able to keep the ants off of them.

I did not properly plan on irrigation. First of all, there was not enough pressure to water the trees like I had hoped. So we filled two trash cans with water and would hand water them. Then the COVID hit and we found ourselves at the store pushing out orders every day. Over 1000 every day for a month or so. And this with only about 200 of our 1600 items turned to active status. We did not have the time we needed to properly water or the irrigation we needed. We could have cut back on the orders, but we felt that people would feel more secure so we stayed open (many seed companies shut down) and filled the orders and most of these with in 48 hours. I think we were the only ones doing this (or at least we like to think so). 

We will be planting again in January but with some changes. We will have an irrigation system installed. We had to put in a well. The well water was OK but it had too much iron so we had to put in an iron filter.  That cost us $2,000 but I think it is worth it.

The last thing I did wrong was not to put cold hardy vs not so cold hardy together.  There were all spread out so that when it got into the low 20's there was no way for me to protect them. And since they were not established trees they succumb to the cold. The warm weather trees had no chance. 

The next time I plant, I will put those susceptible to the cold in a high tunnel like the one below.  We can also use this for putting on black netting to keep the birds off of them.

Above is our re-modeled greenhouse. The other one was not made strong enough to hold up everything it needed to hold up and it started to collapse so that one could hardly walk in it. We are putting in two rows of hydroponics. We have also made it so we can drop the sides in the summer time. Anyway I think it will work out much better than the ones we had before.

What did we plant? It would be easier to say what we did not plant.

We planted avocado, olive, grape vines and blueberry, raspberry and blackberry bushes. We planted peach, apple, pear, plum and fig. We planted orange, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit and lime. We planted pecan trees. 

We planted four pine trees that the ants attacked without mercy.

We planted five Monterrey oaks and five red oaks around the home.

We need to plant more trees and we will be redoing the orchard.

Go to Planting And Growing Corn

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