How to Start a Homestead Orchard
Fruit trees can add beauty and produce food for your homestead.
Living on a homestead means you are trying to be self-sufficient and produce your own food. One way to do this is to create an orchard that will give you fruit or nuts to enjoy year after year. However, when deciding to develop an orchard on your homestead, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure its success.
1. Decide Where to Put the Orchard
The success of your orchard will depend on how much space you can dedicate to developing it. Examine your property and figure out where you would like to put your trees and/or bushes that will give them optimal sunlight, soil, and water. As you decide where to put your orchard, remember that, as the trees mature, their crowns and roots will get larger and spread.
Place them in an area where you don’t mind that they will be covered in shadow, and the branches can’t damage buildings and aren’t near power lines or underground pipes, like sewer or water pipes, that the roots can damage.
You’ll also need to make sure the soil in this area can sustain and nurture your orchard. There are ways to test the soil to ensure it has the proper nutrients, and, if not, there are rehabilitation techniques to get the ground in shape to support the trees.
2. Decide What Type of Trees You’d Like to Plant
Once you’ve decided where you’d like to place your orchard, decide what kinds of trees you’d like to plant. At this point, you can have as much fun with the process as you’d like. Talk to your family about what kinds of fruit they would like to grow, then add them to your list.
3. Figure out Which Trees Will Be the Most Successful in Your Area
Once you have a list of trees you’d like to plant, figure out which ones will be the most successful in your area. Knowing what your gardening zone is and what plant hardiness zone you are in will help you figure out which trees will work best. Talking to local greenhouses or county extension offices will help you discover which plants will thrive in your area and which won’t.
There are a variety of different trees that you can get at this point, including full-sized trees, dwarf trees, and trees that you can keep in pots — all of which might be incredibly successful at producing fruit. To decide which tree is right for your property, you’ll need to keep in mind how much space you have for your orchard and how you want the orchard to impact your property.
4. Know Which Trees Are Self-Pollinating
This is important because, for trees that need to be pollinated, they won’t produce fruit unless there are at least two trees on the property to allow for cross pollination. This could affect how much space you’ll need for your orchard and the types of trees you get. For pollinating trees to be successful, you’ll need two different varieties that bloom at the same time.
For trees that self-pollinate, you don’t have to worry about getting a second tree because the tree will flower, pollinate, and produce fruit by itself.
5. Keep in Mind the Amount of Fruit Your Orchard Will Produce
Having a homestead orchard is a great way to grow your own fruit, but you’ll need to keep in mind that the different sizes of trees you have on your property will produce various amounts of fruit — some of which can be quite a lot. This will be something you’ll need to keep in mind when deciding how much fruit your family will need and if you plan on selling/giving away the excess.
Your homestead orchard can be a wonderful addition to your property, adding aesthetic value and fruit production. Deciding which types of trees you want and which ones will thrive in your growing area will ensure your orchard is successful and fruitful.
Photo by Adobe Stock/ma510na
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