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Old 11-19-2011, 08:25 AM   #1
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Smile Backyard orchard

I just finished drinking a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice from Satsuma oranges home grown a tree in my back yard - the first of the Fall season for me. Delicious.

My father in law advised me over a decade ago when we settled into our then new home that if I was going to plant a tree, it might as well be useful and grow food.

I've only got a small plot in the suburbs, but I've managed to plant orange, fig, pear, plum and loquat trees. I'm still waiting for the pear and plum trees to really produce much, but the others are quite prolific when their season comes.

I used to have a few other trees - apple, crabapple, pecan - but had to remove them for various reasons.

How about you? Anyone else enjoy "the fruits of their land"?
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Old 11-19-2011, 10:29 AM   #2
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Key lime and sweet wild oranges here. I love the fresh squeezed OJ this time of year. Also, it doesn't get any cheaper than free!
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:57 PM   #3
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Sounds delicious!

I have been slowly transforming my landscape into one that is as edible as possible.

Blackberries are delicious and easy to grow. Don't forget about blueberries that can be very heavy producers.

My neighbor has a Kieffer pear that is so delicious that I decided to plant one also last year.

I grow lots of herbs too. You can't beat a nice hot cup of tea that is brewed with fresh-picked mint leaves. Mint is extremely easy to grow, but will spread readily if you don't put measures in to keep it in its spot.

My long-term goal is to also start planting lots of fruit and nut trees.
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Old 11-19-2011, 04:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
My father in law advised me over a decade ago when we settled into our then new home that if I was going to plant a tree, it might as well be useful and grow food
When homesteaders and settlers would finally find their place to build, one of the first, usually THE second thing they would do after arrival was square away the orchard. The reasoning behind this was that the trees take so long to mature. They needed to get on the ball with them immediately, if not sooner, etc.

Good stuff!
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Old 11-19-2011, 08:00 PM   #5
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Now you have me jealous. When first I moved to this rural area, the people I stayed with and helped homestead planted a number of fruit trees - apples, peaches, pears are what seem to do well around here. Good eating, and I learned grafting and so forth.

But...since these are so appealing, all the varmints and insects tend to get them first. While there are many pro orchards around here -maintained by migrants, it's very hard work to actually get the fruit of your labor...And I have nothing up here where I live now. The only perennials I have now are asparagus, and blue and raspberries. I guess I should do something about that and steel myself to the upkeep to actually get to eat some of it. It's a pretty fierce contest with the other beings to keep any for yourself here.
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Old 11-19-2011, 08:21 PM   #6
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DCF, it is just happenstance that I am reading a book by Gene Logsdon, "The Contrary Farmer", at the same time that you have made this post about pests and fruit trees.

Gene is a "cottage farmer" of many many years in Ohio that gives some excellent (!!!) practical advice about small-scale farming, livestock, etc. After years of experience, he makes the following statement:

"If you want to maintain a really healthy, heavy yielding apple tree, plant a STANDARD tree (not one with dwarfing rootstocks that grow weakly and provide little shade) in a pasture field, and after it grows up, allow a flock of sheep to enjoy its shade. In addition to fertilizing the tree, the sheep will eat all the dropped fruit, and that helps keep the trees healthy.......but such apple trees produce fruit about 70 percent free of insect and disease damage, without spraying".

Now of course not many people have a flock of sheep to fully follow the above advice, but you get the idea. This is most likely very similar to what our ancestors have done for thousands of years before chemical sprays were ever invented. It is this concept of farming that I really like; it is contrary to big agri-business farming, but it makes a whole lot of sense.

BTW, this is a very very good book at a reasonable price.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:33 PM   #7
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Very cool to grow your own food! I wish I was in a position to do that, but not having your own land is a bit of a hurdle.
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Old 11-21-2011, 09:08 AM   #8
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That's real interesting. I lack the flock of sheep, as I lack enough good fence for livestock generally (it'd be cows first, they do very well here).

When I first got this land, there was an apple tree from probably Civil war era growing in a "wet spot" in the back - a spring. Huge thing as those go. Baking apples at best, real hard to just eat those. My friend helped graft some more modern apples to part of it (it was a triple stalk tree about 50 ft). Those produced some good apples with the deer eating the fall - they liked the spot anyway (and still do) but the tree succumbed to age, ice storms and so on since. Sadly, it was so worm eaten and rotten, most of it wasn't even usable for firewood - and that's the pest problem here - they eat the tree itself.

But I think your source is right - that should work. We find around here that working *with* nature rather than trying to dominate it just works out better, regardless of whether you have some "green" philosophy or not - Nature here is big and powerful, it kind of outnumbers you - you might as well strive for a happy relationship.

As for my berries and such - we just plant extra so the birds can have their fill and leave us some. We have acres with wild strawberries mixed into the grass and weeds, which keep them and the turtles pretty happy - and for a magic week or so, us too. Trouble is, they taste so good - all the flavor of a 1" one but in a 1/4" one - we rarely make it home from gathering with many in the bag.

Nice new avatar, U.
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dontdeBasemebro View Post:
Very cool to grow your own food! I wish I was in a position to do that, but not having your own land is a bit of a hurdle.
How about dwarf apples and pears in large containers? Dwarf cherries are quite nioce as well. If you are renting, there's nothing to stop you from planting some blackberry canes along the fence.....
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by dontdeBasemebro View Post:
Very cool to grow your own food! I wish I was in a position to do that, but not having your own land is a bit of a hurdle.
No need to be discouraged if you don't have a lot of land. Even in a 10' x 10' spot you can just about grow more lettuce and spinach than you can eat (or tomatoes, or whatever your favorite vegetable is).

Feel free to start a new thread on this if you are interested in some tips on getting started. We will be glad to pitch in with comments.
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
We find around here that working *with* nature rather than trying to dominate it just works out better, regardless of whether you have some "green" philosophy or not - Nature here is big and powerful, it kind of outnumbers you - you might as well strive for a happy relationship.
Very very true. Kind of like trying to push a stone uphill versus letting it roll downhill.

Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
Nice new avatar, U.
Thanks!
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:38 PM   #12
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I smell some tips from "Square Foot Gardening" coming on. When I still lived in the city, I made two 8' square gardens in my rented backyard, and used the techniques from that book with extremely good results. The landlord didn't mind either.

I'd have to say that in a lot of ways, that was better and easier than my current 2500 sq foot garden, certainly per sq foot. With one the size I did; I used timbers to raise it above the crummy suburban soil and had dividers you could step on, so each 8x8' one was really 4 4x4's. This made it very easy to get to all the parts of without stepping on and compressing the super rich soil the book has you build, and trivial to weed. It's amazing how much you can grow with "rocket fuel" organically built up soil (1/3 compost, 1/3 sand, 1/3 suburban clay). It won't quite feed you completely, but boy will it ever cut the bills, and it's far better food quality than at the grocery store. Think of it as boot camp for farming. It can be a ton of fun, and by starting small, it's not overwhelming and you won't let it go to pot and get weedy.

With great soil (manageable to create in small amounts like that) you need a lot less work on the garden. You can plant things a lot closer together and the good plants just crowd the weeds out in the main - a solid carpet of desireable plants. You of course plant stuff that gives a lot per sq foot (lettuce would not be my choice due to lack of nutritional value) but broccoli, tomatoes, beans, and some vine type crops you can let run out into the yard work real well.
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:59 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
I smell some tips from "Square Foot Gardening" coming on. ...
Great book and my parents had a lot of success with their method when I was still in school. I am still trying to get started with a reasonable veggie garden myself.
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Old 11-21-2011, 07:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
I smell some tips from "Square Foot Gardening" coming on. When I still lived in the city, I made two 8' square gardens in my rented backyard, and used the techniques from that book with extremely good results. The landlord didn't mind either.

I'd have to say that in a lot of ways, that was better and easier than my current 2500 sq foot garden, certainly per sq foot. With one the size I did; I used timbers to raise it above the crummy suburban soil and had dividers you could step on, so each 8x8' one was really 4 4x4's. This made it very easy to get to all the parts of without stepping on and compressing the super rich soil the book has you build, and trivial to weed. It's amazing how much you can grow with "rocket fuel" organically built up soil (1/3 compost, 1/3 sand, 1/3 suburban clay). It won't quite feed you completely, but boy will it ever cut the bills, and it's far better food quality than at the grocery store. Think of it as boot camp for farming. It can be a ton of fun, and by starting small, it's not overwhelming and you won't let it go to pot and get weedy.

With great soil (manageable to create in small amounts like that) you need a lot less work on the garden. You can plant things a lot closer together and the good plants just crowd the weeds out in the main - a solid carpet of desireable plants. You of course plant stuff that gives a lot per sq foot (lettuce would not be my choice due to lack of nutritional value) but broccoli, tomatoes, beans, and some vine type crops you can let run out into the yard work real well.
Ooh I smell that gardening thread coming soon too!

Much agreed that the most important factor is the soil, and improving the condition of your soil. Horse manure worked in the soil during the fall before planting in the spring does wonders for a crop! And work those fall leaves into the soil instead sending them to the landfill.

You must be referring to iceberg lettuce having a low nutrional value. Many of the green leafy lettuces are packed with nutrients. The darker green the leaf, the more packed with nutrion.

Whenever I make a burger or a turkey sandwich, I pack it with a ton of fresh grown dark green lettuce leaves. Wow is this good. Sometimes I will even pick about 20 big thick dark green lettuce leaves, take them inside, wash them, fold them over like a sandwich and just have a lettuce sandwich (nothing but lettuce). Weird yes, but very good.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:09 PM   #15
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Maybe that Square Foot Gardening book will find its way on to my Kindle. I don't have any land at all, not a blade of grass, so anything I do would have to be in some sort of pot or box.

Going to start another thread now.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:08 PM   #16
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Pots will do for a lot of things, but be sure to handle the watering - much more work, and prevent crazy temperature variations, some plants don't like that, and some, like tomatos, seem not to care.

Yes, the dark green stuff is good - I do the lettuce sandwich thing myself, sometimes its that or it going to waste (miracle whip!). But my fave of all that is plain old spinach, or swiss chard when its too hot for spinach.
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