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How to Start an Orchard

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Authored by Thea Tan in Gardening
Published on 01-28-2009

If you own a large piece of land and don’t what to do about it, why not make it into an orchard? Planting and maintaining an orchard is practical and simple. You just need to have commitment and you’re good to go.

If you’ve never had experience in growing a tree, buying lots of trees wouldn’t be a good idea. You should first start with just a tree or two so you can get a feel of the gardening process. Once you have successfully grown a tree all the way to adulthood, then you’re ready to grow more. However, you should not plant more trees than you can handle.

If you’re a beginner at handling numerous trees, it would be best if they’re all of the same type. This way, you won’t have to spend much time attending to the individual needs of each tree, such as the amount of water or nutrients. Also, growing one specific type of tree will make you more familiar with the growing process.

If you currently have a tree growing in your property and have maintained it from its childhood, then the soil is perfect for that type of tree and other similar types of trees. Having grown that type of tree before, you shouldn’t have any difficulty testing the rest of the soil to ensure that it’s the same as the part where the original tree is planted. You just have to grow more trees just like the way you did before. Having learned from your previous experience makes you more familiar with pests that might bug you in the process, too.

Usually, trees are planted in an orchard in a row and pruned to a two-dimensional shape. You can try an espalier shape wherein there is one main vertical branch in the center, and then several other horizontal branches that go off to the side. Or you can go for the fan shape, which is similar to the espalier but the side branches are sloped. These shapes are advantageous due to their being compact, enabling you to plant more trees in a limited space. But if you don’t have any problems with space, then you might be better off with the standard tree shape.

To make watering trees easier for you, you have 2 choices: either a sprinkler system or an irrigation system. Sprinklers entail more maintenance, whereas if you dig an irrigation ditch, you will just have to switch on the faucet a few minutes each day to supply all the trees with enough water.

Once your trees begin to produce a lot of fruits, you might want to start a fruit stand or participate at the farmers market. This way, you can share the product of your labor with the world, instead of letting the fruits go to waste or trying to eat them all. You can even make lots of money out of it. However, starting an orchard shouldn’t just be about making profit; your passion for trees is much more important.

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