Hi everyone, just found this forum and have been reading avidly. Thanks to Scott and other admins for running it!
I have little experience growing fruit, but my wife and I started reading books about edible landscaping by Lee Reich and others and urban farming adventures a few years back and started working on plans for our small city yard. We really wanted to make a foundation we were enthusiastic about to build our edible perennials into, and eventually we saved up enough to make that happen in the back half of the lot. Most things were only planted in spring of 2014, with plenty not going in until this year. Someday we’ll do the front yard too. Here is most of the back yard as of a few weeks ago.
The foundation of the backyard fruitscape is a set of 7 small apple trees which I aim to espalier on a trellis I built against the tall back fence (which faces south - southeast). These are mostly G.11/MM.111 interstem, though some are straight G.30. I tried to match the height predicted for each by Orange Pippin’s height calculator to be somewhat higher than my trellis. The choices were some combination of what I like, what sounded like less trouble to grow, and what was available to buy in the combination of scion and rootstock to give the right height. I already would make some different choices even though that was only a year and a half ago!
Here are the varieties I’ve got so far:
- Roxbury Russet
- Ashmead’s Kernel
- Tydeman’s Late Orange
Here is the centerpiece tree, the Wickson, along with my middle daughter (age 6), from this morning.
Starting spring of next year I hope to graft other varieties on to the upper trellis rungs of some trees. I’ve been teaching myself grafting using wild trees on the bikepath to work. Last year I had lots of aphids and Cedar Apple Rust, this year less so. I’ve got some specific questions on various things on these trees that I’ll ask in future using dedicated threads which I hope some of you may be able to share your wisdom on. I’m truly a rank beginner and have much to learn.
I filled up the back terrace with the apple trees with various companion plants including lots of alliums. Whether or not this was the best idea is debatable, but it has it’s benefits. The espaliers are not using the top two wires yet so I thought this year I would try growing some scarlet runner beans and a winter squash up poles and onto these wires.
In the middle terrace, we planted 50 asparagus and 50 june bearing strawberries of two varieties.
The asparagus was a near complete failure for some reason, and we replanted with seeds instead of crowns this year. The strawberries on the other hand were AWESOME. My wife mostly manages the strawberries; picking runners, weeding, etc. For almost a month we averaged about 3 liters/day of amazingly good berries. I thought I would have to net, but weirdly we didn’t have much issue with birds or squirrels, both of which attack plenty of other stuff in the garden. I also thought we could never grow so many strawberries in our small space that we couldn’t just eat them every day, but I was wrong and our freezer and the bellies of friends were happy to take the excess bounty.
For other fruit we’ve planted blackberries, alpine strawberries, rasberries, grapes, red currant, clove currant, gooseberries, hardy kiwi, hazelnuts, goumi, haskap, autumn olive, chinquapin, jostaberry, and aronia. Most of these are not doing much yet. We are getting a few raspberries, expect a couple liters of blackberries, and we each ate ONE red currant berry last week. There looks likely to be a few alpine strawberries which is amazing since I planted them from seed inside in February. Next year we have a spot picked out for a small apricot.
Veggies currently occupy a couple squares in the back middle terrace, an area I took from the lawn which I jokingly call the Grain Maze, and a raised bed box in the front yard. In the pic below my son (4) is cutting mustard greens this spring.
Right now I’ve got potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, popcorn, beans, sunflowers, wheat, basil, leeks, garlic, cucumber. Earlier this year we had a ton of brassica greens, radish pods, radishes, snap peas, favas, and fiber flax. I’m racking my brain figuring out where to rotate 10 squares of strawberries in two years that hasn’t had any nightshade family in it for three years…
Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself and I look forward to continuing to participate in the forum. I don’t have much experience to offer, but may have useful things to offer to other beginners about what has worked for me so far.
I have detailed posts with lots of pictures on my blog on the planning and construction of the landscaping, as well as planning and first year experiences of the micro-orchard.