For those of you who have years of experience in growing fruits of various kinds for years and years, what was your biggest mistake you made or regret starting out? Zone pushing? Spacing? Rootstock selection? Those of us starting out or with only a few years under our belts could likely benefit from a compilation of mistakes the veterans made early on and then avoid those mistakes.
Great topic that I will be following.
Not protecting the trunks from sunscauld and rodents.
I always wished I would have had a better plan when starting. I began with like 5 trees and planted them in such a manner that I had to move them around to fit in more trees. If I had a plan to start, I could have spaced them out in such a way that I could have fit in several more trees. As it is, I don’t want to dig up any existing trees.
I would say, underestimating the damage deer can do to young trees.
They completely killed many from my first plantings.
And severely stunted the growth of others.
An expensive, and disheartening lesson.
I now cage or use electric fence as deterrent.
Not buying the house with right yard …
Believing DW’s hype about high density planting. Planting disease susceptible cherries.
Spacing… ugh don’t remind me.
Oh and squirrels. Don’t like them either.
About 50 years ago, I helped my mom plant 4 crabapple trees in our yard. These full sized trees thrived and now we deal with the mess of an abundant apple drop right by the house every fall. A Dolgo Crab was planted right next to the driveway and those acidic little apples will take the paint right off of a car! If a person has the option, I would advise that fruit trees be planted in a designated orchard and not right in the yard.
I started a new small orchard seven years ago, 100 yards away from the house. If I could do it over, I would deer fence the entire thing before planting the trees. I utilized wire concrete remesh panels around each tree for protection and the deer kept the trees pruned down as far in as they could reach with their noses.
I placed two foot high wire mesh tubes around the trunks to guard against vole damage. We had a lot of deep snow and I lost a couple 6 year old apple trees, that had already started bearing, to being girdled by a rabbit last winter. I replaced the mesh tubes with 3 foot high ones and plan not to be quite so complacent about monitoring my orchard after this.
This is a great topic. I had a good plan and my rootstocks were right. I was a scared, reluctant pruner. If i could start an orchard again I would almost cut the scion above the rootstock in half. Keeping my trees shorter was not easy for me to do, so they grew beautifully and produced excellent fruit (when there wasn’t a late frost) but were way too tall.
not following recommended spacing (this is tiny, why put it so far apart)
and planting and replanting and replanting a cherry tree in a spot that refused to let a cherry live without doing much investigation to find out what was the deal with that spot…it still won’t grow a tree of any variety, maybe it’s an ancient sacraficial alter spot. who knows.
I’m happy that there are so many good articles and videos on pruning floating around in the internet. It’s saved people like me years of second guessing ourselves and just whacking away at limbs willy nilly. If we have a question and all else fails we can just ask on here!
Too many Blueberry plants.bb
Several things come to mind.
Planting my bed against a fence. The reasons I did this was to help provide support, keep the berry planting out of the center of the yard and take advantage of a slope that underlies the fence. I was concerned about root rot and hoped the slope would help prevent this. Unfortunately, planting the bed against the fence meant only one side of the bed was accessible. This in combination with wide bed makes pruning and harvest harder than it needs to be. If I could do it over I would make a raised bed with full access from all sides and keep the bed narrower.
I would have kept the height of the trees shorter to make them easier to net and harvest. I think 8 feet would be ideal.
Deer damage can be a problem. In my area normally the risk is low. But there seems to be a “deer cycle”. Every 5 to 10 yrs I receive a fair amount of damage from Deer and I have found small trees need protection. Caging trees helps when their small. Also having some grafting skills helps. I had one tree about 3 yrs old where I found 1/3 of the tree hanging from a scrap of bark and a tiny bit of wood. I was able to put it back in place with electrical tape and some string. It healed fine and that was my first experience with grafting.
I only planted apples about 3yrs ago. I did extensive research and avoided a fair amount of mistakes. But of course there were issues.
Being willing to prune aggressively was difficult at first. This coupled with the fact pruning guides have little information about trees that don’t act like a textbook idealized tree. For example, I made a heading cut on my Enterprise/ G41 just like the books said when I planted it. It was supposed to produce a whorl of branches and then I was going to pick a new leader like the literature says, etc. Well, the tree didn’t read the literature and it didn’t believe in whorls either. It produced a strong leader and only two small branches way up on the leader. It looked like a trident that you would see used by Aquaman or something. It took me a fair amount of reading to figure out what to do.
Deer damage-- I protected the trees but I wish I had made the cages larger so I could of kept them on the trees longer.
For my area scab and fireblight are the major diseases issues and I only bought trees that had some resistance to them. Well, the second year after planting cedar apple rust showed up. It’s not bad but I was worried for a bit since I hadn’t picked trees that had high resistance to this disease. I think I would make more of effort to have wider spectrum disease resistance if I was starting now.
I also think now I would try to have a more diverse group of rootstocks and cultivars. I think I did pretty well with this but I think I would of tried harder in this area knowing what I know now. You can do a lot of research and talk to a lot of people both local and distant and that reduces the risk of having problems. But in truth, your not going to know what works until you have trees in the ground for 5yrs or more. Disease pressure, growth rates, cultivar performance, rootstock performance and all the rest of it won’t be know until the trees are in the ground for years. I think it would be wise to plant a diverse group of trees so risk having nothing work is reduced.
I’m with you! How far apart is the correct distance? Lol. I’m 2 years into it and curse myself for putting too much space in between trees. At least I think it is. I put about 12 to 14 feet in between peach trees and apple trees. I’m sure that is the correct distance for an orchard but I wish I would’ve squeeze them just a little bit closer and fit in an extra tree or two.
I think your tree spacing is very good. I am very happy that accidentally, two of my full sized peach trees are 10-12 ft apart. Peaches on open center spread out, not up.
Apples depends on rootstocks and growing style i.e. free standing, tall spindle, etc.
If I had space I would spread out my trees like you do. It helps with better air circulation, more exposure to sun, easy to walk around inspect the trees and spray, etc.
. I’m just happy to not have the deer problem. For now at least. Haha. I’m sure my day will come
Same deal with me!
I’m wishing for the opposite of bleedingdirt and mrsG. Most my trees are young, planted in the last few years. I was reading too much about pruning, keeping them short etc and chopped the trees around knee high. Then I realized I can’t keep the deer away from my trees. Now they are all caged. I’m trying to get the branches to go up again and then out.
Should have asked grandpa more questions about how he grew so much good fruit, starting at like age 5.
And maybe I asked those questions, …?..just was not such a good listener back then.
For us I would say it was ground/planting prep. That lead to drainage issues & weed issues and plant/tree health issues. We were too eager to get started instead of having more patience and maybe planting a year later than we did.