What to do with This?

My sister bought a place at least ten years ago,with an orchard put in by the previous owner.They haven’t done much with the maintenance since living there.I’d like to help prune the thing,so at least a person can walk between the trees and pick a majority of the fruit and nuts.The place is in Buckley,WA,in the Puget Sound area.
I took a few pictures while being out there recently.
Next Winter/Spring is when I’ll probably start going through the area and cut out some stuff.The biggest are nut trees,Pecan,I think,and maybe others.Some are so large,they may be beyond reducing,although I have no experience with them. Brady

Looking from the West,Grapes,Pears,Peaches and in the back,nut trees

Overloaded with Pears

Grapes and Peaches-The Peaches taste pretty good and no PLC

Some kind of Apple

Second row in-Shiro Plum I think-Seems kind of late for them

Maybe Damson or Italian Prune

Could be a Gage

Third row-the Nut trees

Pecan?Kind of sticky to the touch

The last is an English walnut. Very impressive fruit considering the total lack of care.

Wow. Nice little piece of paradise. The fruit is on auto-pilot. Just a little tidying up is all that’s necessary, unless you really want to knock yourself out. Have fun with it.

When do i move in? WOw. Awesome place there… Very nice fruit if no one has tended to them…just shows what a great climate that exists out there.

Probably just some thinning/pruning… When the trees lose leaves you’ll be able to get in there and thin a lot easier.

Apples and pears are one thing, but to see plums and especially peaches looking soooo fine, with reportedly no spray is mesmerizing to me. NO PC? You got to be kidding me. I really believe that you could not grow those fruits here where I live, clumped together like that and produce even decent fruit even if you aerial sprayed with Imidan and Captan daily.
That is really something. Thanks for posting.
Cleaning that up should be a piece of cake. Sorry WA guys…I have monumentally less respect for the growing prowess of Washingtonians as a result of this post…lol. Like stealing candy from a baby.
Photos 3,5 and 6 pretty much says it all.
You guys are so spoiled.

I began my love for fruit where it is dryer than that, in the S. CA foothills. I subscribed to Organic Gardening magazine and proscribed to their published philosophy about gardening without the benefit of modern chemistry. It works so well where it rarely rains during the growing season- my love of picking tree ripened fruit was begun from picking from untended trees like these.

I would begin just by pruning away rubbing and dead branches and branches laying on the ground. Peaches are not very cooperative towards reshaping but the plums can probably be pruned more aggressively back to a productive and easy to manage form.

I have experimented with reducing the size of Chestnut trees and I suggest you not remove more than about a third of the tree in a season and don’t expect to be able to keep them from becoming the forest sized trees that are in their DNA. If there is inadequate room it’s probably best to remove them and enjoy the other fruit. No harm in trying though. I’d be interested in the results, but commercial nut orchards always seem to have very wide spacing between trees.

Mother Nature is the best farmer.

Looks like a natural balance was struck in this biota.

Sort of makes you give more credence to Paul Gautschi’s methodology in the" Back to Eden Documentary" and what the permaculturists practice.

No… I don’t think that this would work on the large scale farming that is needed to feed the world. But to us “backyard farmers” it is something to consider. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/back-eden/

I think that this is what jujubemulberry was trying to get at in the recent “organic - if they only knew” thread although I think he erred in implying that this could be scaled up.

Two cents worth here

Only if you are in the 1% of the country where anything like these results are even remotely possible. Even then help is needed. It’s all about climate and most of us don’t have it.

Whoa, I think I need to move to Buckley, WA! :smiley:
Seriously, that same orchard in SC would be borered to death, black knot everywhere, riddled with PC, rot, CAR…I could go on and on.

I did say that a balance was struck in that particular biota. :slight_smile:

And… that I did not think it was scalable.

I am a satisfied happy sprayer here in the Hudson Valley, NY just 50 miles north of Alan.

But what works… works. And it works for Paul G. at his place with his input but no spray and in the OP.


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Thanks for your comments and help.Before joining GW and this forum,I was oblivious to some of the problems East coast growers or really anyone on the other side of the Rocky Mountains face.When someone first mentioned PC and then explained what the term meant to another poster,I had to look it up for more information.
It seems like a lot of people think about rain when Seattle is mentioned,but during the Summer though,we almost go through drought like conditions,but the temperatures are usually mild enough,to take it in stride. Brady

A recent cover of Good Fruit magazine told the story. A shot from the sky of an expansive orchard in Washington (further inland where the serious production occurs). The hills bordering the orchard looked about like desert and it stretched on and on outside the orchard. Like a lifeless moat impossible to cross for most water needing species. Most pest species aren’t going to make it through 6-8 months of drought most every year (except the sucky years of late where the drought just goes on and on).

By the way,as I’m writing this,the area is getting the first major rain of the season.
Yes Alan,most of Eastern Washington is classified as desert,but if irrigated,things can grow very well there,just like in parts of California. Brady

My answer to the “What to do with this?” question would have been to visit your sister a lot and enjoy.

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Interesting film and great website. Such a beautiful garden and healthy plants. With all that philosophical talk I’m wondering were are all God’s creatures in his garden. Where are the fungi, the bacteria, the insects, the rabbits, the under ground creatures like moles and voles in his garden. I’ve got them all and I’m feeding with my vegetables and fruit. I’ve got wood chips but maybe not enough or maybe I have to move to Washington.

His feeling is that all the creatures we call pests were put here to clean & cull the sickly plants. That if you have a healthy environment the plants and the beneficial creatures the pests have little to feed on maintaining an equilibrium.

He is a man of faith. But regardless of what motivates him or led him to make the observations about the forest around him, it seems be working for him.

You can find other short vids from his homestead on you tube.

Gets a little preachy for me but you can’t argue with success.


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Here is a map for the orchard.It is in two parts and overlaps and repeats somewhat,because that’s the only way I could make it fit in the phone’s camera lens.
The ones with the green circle and check mark are most likely still there.Pink mark with black dot means no longer alive.I noticed a lot of the trees that were in Southern part died.They were also in closer proximity to the Walnut trees than the surviving ones.I’ve read a little about Juglans affecting other neighboring plants.I’m not sure if that was the cause. Brady

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Thank you for posting this, the garden is absolutely amazing, and even more so considering that it has been unattended for quite a while.
Some practical recommendations that I would come up with:
Grapes need to be pruned yearly, it will increase the yield and help having the plant in check, right now it looks ok, but as the time goes they can get out of hand and produce too much shadow. Prune in the fall, when they are ready for state of dormancy - if you prune them in spring, you may weaken them.
Peach trees - need to be pruned yearly, too - it will extend the lives of the trees and allow for higher quality and bigger peaches.
Same goes for apple and pear trees. Those need some pruning for lighting up some crowded spaces in their canopies and possibly rejuvenating some old brunches - that would also, like with peach trees, extend their lives and help them produce higher quality fruit.
Plums - those could benefit from some thinning and rejuvenating pruning, as well. Start with removing dry branches and those that have disease.
Blackberries - may also need some pruning.
The good news is that you may not do anything with the nut trees, they will be just fine growing by themselves.
Having said that, I should add that the “intrusion” in the life of your garden should probably be minimal, as it looks just great as is, older gardens that were not attended for some time have their own beauty to themselves and I would be trying not to keep it.

Thanks and welcome to this place on the web.
I plan on going there this weekend to start pruning,as the weather is gradually warming and it needs to be done.My brother-in-law wants the Grapes done especially,but will try to do some of the things mentioned in your post. Brady