Planning an Orchard?


James WhitePlanting an orchard is an investment in the future of your homestead. Though the harvest will take years to arrive, putting down roots on your land now shows your commitment to sustainability and faith in the eventual “fruits” of your labor. This is what the essence of homesteading is all about.

Orchards and homesteading have a long history together. In fact, the very first homesteader in U.S. history improved his property with plantings of peach and apple trees. If you’re ready to plant an orchard on your property, answer these three questions in your planning to avoid costly mistakes and unhappy fruit trees:

How Much Space Can You Devote to an Orchard?

Fruit trees require full sun for at least eight hours a day for best production, so you must choose a site that isn’t shaded by buildings or a hedgerow. The ideal spot is a south-facing slope, which will allow for plenty of sun and also provide good drainage. Once you have a spot in mind, measure your square footage and make a plot on graph paper to help you plan where to site your trees.

Now that you’ve figured out your horizontal real estate, it’s time to think vertically. Standard fruit trees range in height from 12 to 20 feet at maturity, depending on the variety. Planting tall trees means investing in specialized equipment to prune branches and harvest fruit. Standard trees provide outstanding yields, but if you aren’t comfortable with heights, dwarf or semi-dwarfs that top out at eight to 10 feet may be a better choice.

picking apples

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