Early Summer Tasks in the Orchard

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Tydeman's Late OrangeWe have just thinned the very good fruit set of apples from the nursery cordon, otherwise it would have been very overloaded. This 7 year old espalier of 38 varieties of apples is where we get our cuttings (scion wood) from.


Early Summer Tasks in the Orchard

It is a beautiful time of year out in the orchard. We enjoyed some good conversation and garden tip sharing recently when we were out working in the Waitati Open Orchards. Here are a few tips for timely activities for early summer in the orchard.

  • It is worth doing a quick pull up of the weeds that have taken hold in the spring flush from the mulch under your trees and bushes. Before they become monsters!
  • Thin the fruit that has set, apples to about two fruits per cluster, take the centre ‘king’ out first. My big ‘Wilson’s Early’ plum set so much fruit last year I just shook it to thin the fruit.
  • Thin new shoots on raspberries of both summer and autumn varieties.
  • Summer pruning can start now; this is good for vigorous established plants, encouraging them to fruit. Take out young crowding growth that is not needed for new branches. Great for gooseberries, and over vigorous fruit trees, such as those out of control plums!
  • Prep your strawberry beds with pine needles over compost. When they start running, ruthlessly take out any runners you don’t want for new plants, you’ll get a lot more fruit.
  • Cover your fruit with bird netting, consider covering the lot from a permanent perimeter fence that can then contain chickens in the winter to weed and fertilise the area for you.
  • Chop and drop the dynamic accumulator, nitrogen fixing, ground cover and companion herbs, such as sweet cicely and comfrey, under your fruits. This feeds the soil, keeps weeds at bay.
  • Make a mix of vegetable and herb seeds and scattering them into gaps in the fruit, vegetable and even the ornamental garden. It is a pleasure to harvest the succession of abundance that follows. Try: daikon, rocket, mizuna, lettuce, carrot, silver beet, coriander, dandelion, miners lettuce, red Russian Kale, flat leaf parsley…

Old gooseberries with companion plants chopped and dropped beneath them to feed the soil.

Food Forest Workshop in Waitati – November 2013

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Would you like to learn about growing a whole woodland type ecosystem entirely with edible and useful plants? Come along to find out how to grow a diversity of crops together, supporting each other making for a low maintenance food system and an adventure into growing closely with nature.

I will be co-tutoring and bringing local info on what species and guilds work here in coastal Otago.

Spring Food Forests / Edible Forest Gardens

Monday, November 5th, 2012

I just adore this time of year in the edible garden. I especially enjoy the food forest (edible forest garden) parts of the garden where all the work of weeding, mulching, transplanting and pruning was done in the winter and now is just a time for observing the fresh new growth, flowering and insects doing their pollination (and parisitising!).

This picture is taken in Waitati at a garden where I work. In it are apple and plum trees, redcurrants, perennial vegetables/ herbs / multifunctional dynamic accumulators: sorrel, lovage, globe artichoke, lemon balm, sweet cicily, russian and evergreen comfrey.

I am extra excited to be thinking about food forests as I am co-tutoring a workshop on them later in the month, with Robina McCurdy and Jon Foote as part of the LOCALISING FOOD TOUR, look out for an upcoming post with detals.

Fennel, sweet cicely and lemon balm. These are planted under fruit trees for a range of benefits. For the trees they provide a ground cover, excluding weeds and mining up minerals from deep in the soil they deposit them on the soil surface for the fruit trees to feed on. For us they provide herbal tea, salad crops, rhubarb sweetening and delicious seeds.

Here Russian and evergreen comfrey growing under berry fruits has been slashed and dropped to feed the soil. This really enjoyable job is done two or three times during the summer.

Gooseberries with comfrey underneath, autumn raspberry rows, an apricot and hazel nuts behind, in a well sheltered sun trap.

Fruit trees we planted very closely in rows with companion plants, in order to trial many varieties in a small space. Sunflowers are planted as a cash crop in between the rows while the trees are small.