Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Prep Work on Next Year's Orchard Begins

Clearing begins
The trees, broom grass, weeds left to grow for decades, and wild blackberry brambles disappear this week. It will be roughly terraced into the planned orchard this week. It's only a year behind schedule, but it's getting done. Next, all the cardboard boxes, mulch, trees chips, straw, manure, etc will be laid for spring planting.

Having a self sustainable, organic orchard on a little under a 1/4 of an acre takes planning especially when talking about fruit and nut trees. To plan this 1/4th of an acre on a steep sloping hill side doubles the work to make it easier to plant and maintain. It takes heavy equipment to clear and somewhat level the area into tiers. Elements like terracing the land seemed like our best option for optimum sunlight for each tree. Keeping the trees dwarfed, will take and continuous effort on our part. A rough 75'x 100' area will be divided into three or four terraces.

We calculated each level to approximately 30' wide giving ample room for foliage spread. We also figured that each tree, of the larger varieties, would be five trees on a 75' level with heavy pruning. Two trees trees would supply us with ample produce for ourselves, but four will allow us to sell some too.  but we are dividing it further for more variety.

my vision on much smaller scale
The first tier, closest to the barn, will be dedicated to berries and grapes. We gathered some Muscadine grape seeds this year. I want to try to start them from seed rather than buy the starts. Yes, I know this will delay harvesting for a few years. I may buy some plants in addition for faster results in between these starts. The plan is for 32' of grape vines and the support system it needs. We also have 10' each of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries on this tier. None will be over 5' tall. These bushes will require more hands on care so it seemed logical to put them at the top and they won't shade the lower tiers.

The next two levels down will be the larger trees:  cherry, fig, peach, and apples. Maybe a pear tree also, I haven't decided yet. These will also have their growth dwarfed to a more manageable six feet tall. I may espalier these trees for better control and harvest. We aren't going to get a huge glut of fruit this way, but it will be an easier harvest. Higher periodic maintenance is necessary so it's is best on the second and third tiers. I also saw on YouTube how to protect the fruit from insect damage using footie socks. It will be much easier to do by espaliering the trees for a better harvest.

What a difference a day makes!
The last, lowest, levels will be the really tall sweet acorn oaks (Thank you Big Bear Homestead for the acorns), pecan, and black walnut trees.Two each. Lowest maintenance except in harvest time. They don't require the heavy pruning after the first couple of years. They can even be staggered on the rest of the downhill slope into the tree line that remains. Careful planning went into this westerly facing orchard for water run off. We've spent three years watching the sun track across this area in all seasons.

A look at the tiers from 4th level
We're getting older so planting smarter is the key. When looking at our property, only 1/4 of an acre (where the house, barn, and garden is) of fairly level- otherwise it's a 100-foot sloping drop (in some places over a 20 degree grade drop) to the creek.  In some areas, the land drops very sharply 10-15 feet. It's a challenge to homestead this property at best, but we're working with what we've got. This makes 1/2 an acre of our two-acre homestead recovered from its previously abandoned state. Heavy equipment is a definite plus.

Y'all have a blessed day.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Ladies! How are you? I've missed y'all on the youtube. Things look like they are coming along well! Happy Fall Y'all!

    Jenn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenn!!! We've had repeated technical issues this year that has kept us off youtube. Happy Fall back at you.

      Delete

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