I have a new plan for our small orchard area. Something called a food forest. Planting it more like landscaping with companion planting the goal. One Green World published a great article on companion planting for fruit trees and I thought I would share it with you as well: Companion Plants for Fruit Trees fill ecological niches
Here is another great article from Permaculture Apprentice on creating a Food Forest step by step: Creating a Food Forest – Step by Step Guide
On the left is a really terrible picture I took with my phone of my laptop screen. The big square on the far right is the orchard area across the driveway from our house. I broke down the yard around the house into “Zones”. Front yard will be more native but also resilient landscaping, Small side yard will be the “Zen Garden” for our pet cemetery, maybe a small pond, gazebo, and more ornamental plantings. The back yard will have the clothes line, fire pit, swing set, possibly a swimming pool at some point, and the landscaping will be kid and dog friendly. A tiny area between our house and driveway will likely be a small container garden and patio garden with predominantly annuals or tender perennials.
This is my accurate if someone juvenile drawing of our orchard area plans on the right. At the top along the slanted line is a logging road we put in many years ago when the property was horse logged. There will be an area on the other side of that road up to the neighbor’s fence where we will plant some native food plants that may not necessarily be super tasty to us, but there in case we need them someday, and the wildlife can enjoy the spot. We will probably surround the main orchard area with a deer fence to protect the smaller plants and young trees out there. The main orchard area has a somewhat level area closest to the driveway where we will put in a chicken coop, compost, 4 hoop houses (10×20) and a raised bed garden area for annual garden plants and probably strawberries (since there might just be chickens roaming the food forest and they would eat them all haha). The food forest itself will have the fruit trees, fruit shrubs, perennial veggies/herbs, as well as nitrogen fixing and ‘dynamic accumulator’ companion plants throughout. We will also plan for mushrooms in shadier areas as well. There are 4 fruit trees still living out there as well as a couple Blue Spruce and a huge Cedar that were planted in years past. On the map, I placed an access driveway to the PGE power pole out in the orchard too so they have easy access to it in case of problems. This picture is a rough draft idea of what could happen out there.
I’m really excited to see how this goes. It’s going to take years to finish, but I’m hopeful it will make a self sustainable life a little easier on us. It’s been really fun researching plants to put out there and in the yards! This is definitely a learning curve as my brain goes back to the rows of trees and rows of plants in traditional orchards and gardens. Feel free to leave comments below if you have any input!