2. Establishing An Orchard
Every individual, whether he lives on a small city lot or a large country estate or farm, can provide some or all of his fruit and nut needs with an orchard. Even back-yard gardeners can enjoy many varieties of fruit on dwarf-size trees and miniatures. The range of tree crops you can grow in your area depends very largely on climate. Climate is more important than soil. You can always improve the soil by adding proper nutrients, but you can't do much about the climate.
Temperature and moisture are two factors which limit your orchard selections. Regarding temperature, your main problem in the North is too much cold weather and in the South your problem may be not enough cold weather to break the dormancy of certain trees. As for moisture, too much produces poor drainage in the soil and a high humidity contributes to fungal diseases. Of course, too little moisture means nothing will grow. The best climate for temperate-zone fruit culture is dry with adequate irrigation and with mild but not too mild winters. However, you don't have to live in an ideal climate to grow fruit and nuts. There are varieties established for every area. For assistance in choosing the proper varieties for your area, you should consult a local nurseryman or your county extension agent.
It is possible to experiment with varieties not usually grown in your area if you follow a few guidelines. Learn as much as you can about the requirements of the variety you desire and try to duplicate them as much as possible at your location. Mini-climates can be created around pools of water, next to walls, with the aid of greenhouses, etc.
For best success, plant varieties that are no more than one zone difference from yours (using cold hardiness zone maps from nursery catalogs or gardening books as a guideline).
Home > Lesson 50 - The Pluses In Orcharding: How To Get Started
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