My New Fruit and Vegetable Garden Plan

Given that I have some regrets about my prior garden and orchard planning, or lack of planning, I am being more careful this time. I need to create a more accessible garden and orchard, this time around, which will be fenced against herbivores. The fencing will be expensive, and not perfect, but we will see. The fenced area will be 35 feet by 40 feet, with seven foot tall fence.

First, this is the existing area. The fencing is make shift, where I had tomatoes and squashes, and some beans, this year. Prior rotations were sweetcorn, potatoes, squashes, and annual flowers. The grass paths will become garden. I will use wooden planks for paths.

I have estimates for the fencing. I should be able to decide on a fencing contractor next week.

Here is my plan so far. This is sort of how I planned kitchen and bathroom remodels, with cut-outs roughly to scale so I can move them around. I lined up 7 quarters, each of which represents 5 foot diameter circle. That makes 35 feet. Then I took our one from each row, to give myself space for walking and working. I chose 5 foot diameter because I measured my 18 year old Liberty, on M27, and it is just under 5 feet diameter. The pennies represent about 3 feet diameter, for columnar trees.

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I won’t buy many trees. Instead, I want to use cultivars that grow well for me already, but are on taller trees. I ordered Bud-9 rootstock for most, and Geneva 222 for the less vigorous cultivars. My list will probably evolve, but so far I think it’s:

On Bud - 9
Porter - a heritage yellow apple that does very nice in my yard.
Pristine - a modern, early, disease resistant, very delicious yellow apple.
Liberty - our favorite, and disease resistant. Midseason apple.
Cosmic Crisp - this will be on M27, that’s the choice I have ordering it.
Gravenstein - another favorite, early, vigorous.
Winecrisp - a modern, disease resistant apple, similar to Liberty, Mid season.
Summerred - maybe. Not very productive but I love the flavor.
Akane - early to mid season, very tasty. or I might just keep the original tree.
Macoun - I haven’t tried it yet, ordered scion. It has such good reviews.

On Geneva 222
Honeycrisp - Maybe. I love the apple but the vigor is so poor and I’m not sure about disease susceptibility.
Jonared. Does well for me here, a sentimental favorite.
Rubinette. Mid to late, very tasty.
Queen Cox. Mid to late, very tasty.
Beni Shogun Fuji. Has never born for me but I like an occasional Fuji.

This is 14 cultivars, but I’m only setting aside 12 spaces. I might leave out Summerred and Winecrisp, or keep them on their original semidwarf trees. Ditto for Akane, although that one is too tall for me now. I might want to include Airlie Redflesh, but that means not including one of these others. Airlie does get some scab, so I’m not sure.

The dimes are columnar cultivars. I like Northpole so may grow two. I’ll also have Scarlet Sentinel and Golden Sentinel, all of these on Bud 9. I may move in my one-year-old Tasty Red and Golden Treat, but these are on more vigorous rootstock, which I don’t want. I also don’t know what they taste like yet, so may keep them in my other fenced mini-orchard.

This does not leave room for the experiments I’m planning for a couple of pears on weird rootstocks like serviceberry or aronia or on Bud-9 with Winter Banana interstem. Maybe that’s the dimes.

It will take several years for these to reach bearing size. Meanwhile, I can grown some small annual veggies between them, such as bush beans. The fencing should keep rabbits out too.

Herbivores stay away from sweetcorn, potatoes, swiss chard, turnips and some of the squashes, so those will remain outside the fencing.

After getting the fence up, the next step is clearing the current vegetable garden and prepping the lawn areas. I’ll cover the lawn areas with black plastic for the winter, which worked nicely before. Or I might let the chickens and ducks work on it for a while. Step three will be making the bench grafts this winter. I might keep them in containers for a year, I’m not decide on that yet.

This is a long term plan. I’ll keep most of my fruit trees as is until these produce, but by miniaturizing at lease the apples, and maybe a few others, I hope to have a more accessible garden for me to work in where I can dote on these trees. This may be a place for a Morus nigra, and for a Babycakes blackberrry (maybe the dimes) a well.

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What herbivores are you excluding? Deer?

Have you thought about planting your trees on the north side? If on south side they might shade your beds.

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Yes deer. Im tired of fighting them with makeshift fencing. Rabbits, too, for vegetables. But mostly deer.

The miniature trees will only be 5 feet tall. I don’t think they will cast much shade. But it’s good thought. I will think about that some more.

Bear_with_me,
I am impressed with your ability to plan out garden maps using cut outs and coins!

I am NOT suggesting you change how you plan and lay out your planned garden plots.
Still, I would like to suggest you look at this site:
https://incompetech.com/graphpaper/

Take a look! You can make, save, and print scaleable graph papers of so many types.

If this is of interest to “share with the class”, feel free to post the ink to everyone.
Thank you,
Doug

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It looks like you have a pretty good plan. I do have a couple of comments/suggestions.

I second what Susu said that you may want your trees on the North side to minimize shading of the vegetables and other short plants in your beds. Or as an alternative you may consider putting the apples in North/South rows on the west side. This would give morning sun to the vegetables and a bit of late afternoon shade since your trees are fairly short. North/South rows also allow more efficient use of the sunlight and closer between row spacing.

Honeycrisp has some resistance to scab and fireblight. It’s certainly more resistance to disease than Rubinette and on G222 the vigor should be fine.

You may want to think in more depth about tree spacing both in and between rows. How do you plan to mow the grass and what size of mower are you planning to use? The deck width of the mower will change the row spacing you need. In-row you could probably space trees closer at 3-4’ since your on M27 and Bud 9. For the G222 trees, honeycrisp would probably work ok at this spacing because of low vigor. The others probably would need a bit more space.

If your going lay the trees out on a grid and mow both North/South and East/West between the trees I would suggest having the mulch in squares around the trees rather than circles because it would make mowing easier and reduce the amount of grass trimming you have to do.

Have you thought about watering? During the establishment years your going to have to water the trees quite a bit. When the trees are established the amount of water will vary depending on your climate. For me , I only have to water established dwarf trees when I am in drought. Your situation may require more frequent watering. You may want to think about a water system drip, micro-sprinklers, spot-spitters, etc. for the trees and the vegetables. Even if you decide against a water system you may want to consider having your layout have provisions for it so it could be easily added later.

-mroot

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@mriot, @munalos, @susu thank you very much for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I will take all into account. The reason I posted was that I want to avoid, 10 years from now, saying “I should have done it differently”.

I will think about the location of the fruit trees. Since they will be fairly short height, and the sun is high in summer, I did not think about them casting shade for the veggies. I also didn’t think about north/south rows, which I thought would cause them all to be shaded by each other. My minidwarf Liberty apple, which is 15 feet north of a shed had about 50 apples this year, which is plenty. Another option is plant the trees on the South side of the raised beds, which are 7 years old, fir wood, and probably won’t last much longer. Most of the veggies will be shorter height. Some will be trellised, something else to consider.

The choice of rootstock was, I want maximum size about 5 or 6 feet tall and 4 or 5 feet across. I think M27 might be too limiting for most, but Geneva 222 might be too vigorous for some. I only want the G222 for the less vigorous ones. Of course I can and will prune. Not sure if I want spindle or bush shape, leaning toward bush. I won’t let them bear for a few years. I have plenty of larger apple tree for until this garden is bearing.

As for mowing, the apple garden will have a heavy tree leaf mulch. I’ve been doing that with most of my fruit trees, and it works very nicely. Moderates the soil temperature and moisture, keeps weeds down, fertilizes and conditions the soil. I have a source of multiple truckloads of tree leaves each fall. There will be no grass to mow in this bed. For veggies, I keep the ground bare and use a stirrup hoe for cultivating. With the long cool spring, the bare ground warms the soil, which is needed.

I’ve been pondering the watering situation. I spend too much time watering. It rarely rains during the summer. For young trees, I stand a 5 gal bucket next to each tree. Each bucket has two 1/4 inch holes drilled in the bottom. During the dry season, once or twice a week, I fill each bucket with water. I’m thinking a out running a pipe underground with a tap in the middle of the new fenced garden so I don’t have to haul hoses. I could do a set up with a tube running to each tree. I don’t want sprinklers due to waste and potential spread of diseases, especially fungal. I might try a newspaper mulch next year for tomatoes and sweetcorn, after the ground heats up.

I have somewhat of a disability that will gradually become more of a factor with time. By doing this now, I hope to be able to continue growing fruit and a kitchen garden for a much longer time.

I have not found that herbivores stay away from sweet corn, or chard or squash or turnips. Maybe they are different where you are but here in the southeast, whitetail deer will feast on most of what you are planting outside of the fence. Good luck with your garden!

@spittingkitten My yard is overrun with voles, deer, rabbits. I am within 20 feet of the deer almost every day. I do cover the seedlings and baby plants with low fencing tunnels, but when they ate a foot tall, none of the animals here bothers those crops. but they eat fruit trees down to nothingness at the drop of a hat. It shows all gardening is local. I bought 3 books about gardening around deer, and I don’t believe half of it. They are the reason for 90% of my gardening disappointments.

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The North/South rows seems pretty universally preferred. At first, I thought the row orientation shouldn’t make any difference for row spacing. But after doing some research and looking at some diagrams showing the concept I think I understand why it makes a difference. The sun moves from horizon to horizon throughout the day and is at maximum height only for short time each day. For North/South rows the sun first shines on the East side of a row in the morning and then in the afternoon it shines on the West side of the row so both sides receive direct sunlight. This doesn’t happen for East/West rows instead the sun only shines on the South side of the row throughout the day. To compensate for this East/West rows are spaced farther apart.

For tall spindle

North/South rows row spacing = 1.3 X tree height
East/West rows row spacing = 1.5 X tree height

This link talks about this in more detail in the tree height paragraph.

http://fruitadvisor.info/tfruit/pdf/applespacing08usperry.pdf

It is also true for trees in other training systems but I am not sure the same adjustment factor is used.

If the orchard will be mulched instead of having grass between rows you will probably want to make sure the rows are wide enought for the wheel barrow or cart your using to move mulch to move down the rows easily. Your sorta swapping a wheel barrow for your mower. I would also check and make sure the gate for the fence is big enough for the wheel barrow or cart too.

Have you thought about sanitation of fallen leaves? I have used cages around trees to protect the trees from deer and have found the fallen apple leaves get trapped in the cage. I would expect your fence would trap them as well. It may cause more problems with scab. You may want to spray the fallen leaves with urea to break them down faster. Or have your tree’s lower scaffold a bit higher. In practice, it may not be an issue but something to think about.

I think you are a good candidate for a drip water system or a spot-spitter system. You could probably could get a irrigation book from your library or thru inter-library loan. It would help you plan out a system that would reduce your workload.

-mroot

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Thanks for all the thought @mroot. Something for me to mull over before I put the trees into the ground.

Im having some second thoughts about Bud 9 instead of M27. Maybe the Bud-9 is too vigorous. I want them under 6 feet tall and maybe 5 feet tall. I understand that vigor is variable for the many cultivars.

I think in most cases Bud 9 would be fine in terms of vigor. Your right though scion vigor is important component of how big the tree will be.

If your concerned there are two sources listing scion vigor. The Home Orchard Society has a list for scion vigor but be sure you read the introduction at the top of the page. The intro explains that they tend to overestimate vigor of scions. Orangepippin’s website also has scion vigor listed under the “Fruit ID” tab for many of the apple cultivars.

http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/growfruit/apples/estimated-tree-vigor-for-apple-varieties/?doing_wp_cron=1571244658.2838480472564697265625

www.orangepippin.com

-mroot

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Yes, I think you should enclose the entire garden, or sooner or later your corn, squash, etc., will disappear and you will wish you had enclosed them.