5. Preparing A Site
The main considerations in preparing a site for your orchard are soil condition and drainage. The first thing you must put right in any area where it is a problem is drainage. Where the problem is not too severe, double-digging which breaks up any hardpan (compacted soil unimpenetrable by roots) and aerates and introduces organic matter into the soil may be sufficient. On very heavy clay, you may need to aid drainage by digging a deep, stone-filled sump (a pit or reservoir serving as a drain for water) at the lowest end of the orchard with one or more lines of drainage tiles covered with six inches of gravel buried two feet deep leading to it. Other treatments for heavy clay are to dig coarse boiler ash, mortar rubble, coarse sand, etc., into the top-soil. And work in plenty of bulky organic matter, well-rotted compost, or coarse peat to increase the humus content and open up the soil structure.
The ideal soil for growing the widest range of fruit and nut trees is a medium loam combining the advantages of sandy and clayey soils and containing plenty of organic matter and minerals. Few gardeners are lucky enough to have such soil. However, any type soil can be improved through a program of organic soil conditioning methods.
To maximize soil fertility, large quantities of well-rotted manure, compost, and minerals are required. Sandy soils will benefit from the addition of coarse peat, clay, or even subsoil from excavations. Clayey soils must be thoroughly cultivated, and lime makes clay more workable by encouraging the formation of soil crumbs.
Nearly all soils are deficient in one or more minerals. These can be added in the form of rock phosphate, colloidal phosphate, granite dust, feldspars, ground glacial rock, and greensand. Natural rock fertilizers are slow working and long lasting. They do particularly well on acid soils and are more effective when combined with raw animal and/or green vegetable manures.
A healthy soil depends on adequate quantities of organic matter. While barnyard manure has long been used for this purpose, well-made garden compost is an excellent alternative. Apart from diseased material, all plant residues and kitchen wastes should be composted and returned to the soil. Various methods can be used to make compost, but all require good aeration, free drainage, adequate moisture, and a balance between dry coarse material and soft green plant tissues or animal manure. Dry material should be layered with soft plant material or animal manure and then watered. Bone meal or other natural fertilizers can be added to the heap to supply additional nutrients.
Another good way to increase the organic material in the soil is by green manuring. A quick-growing crop such as mustard, vetch, clover, or lupines is sown early and dug into the ground a few weeks before the orchard is to be planted.
The soil should never be left uncovered, especially on sloping sites, otherwise erosion will occur. You can use ground cover plants or a mulch of organic material such as ground bark, old straw, grass clippings, and/or leaves.
- 1. The Benefits Of Biological Orcharding
- 2. Establishing An Orchard
- 3. Choosing Trees
- 4. Pollination Of Trees
- 5. Preparing A Site
- 6. Planting Trees
- 7. Mulching
- 8. Orchard Fertility
- 9. Pest And Disease Control
- 10. Pruning
- 11. Thinning Fruit
- 12. A Grove Of Trees To Live In
- 13. Questions & Answers
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- Article #4: Texas Could Feed Nearly Half the World By T.C.Fry
- Article #5: Fertilization of the Soil By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #6: The Green Revolution
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