Backyard Orchard Culture
August 12th, 2009
The idea behind backyard orchard culture is to maximize available space and spread out your harvest by keeping trees small. It is called backyard orchard culture to differentiate it from commercial orchard culture. The available space, harvest and labor considerations are radically different for home growers versus commercial growers.
Most deciduous fruit trees- peaches, plums, apples, apricots, etc. benefit from regular pruning. So they can be pruned to stay at a height that is easy to pick and doesn’t take up too much space. There is no need for a home gardener to have a thirty foot high apple tree because they have no use for such a quantity of one type of apple. Instead, it makes more sense to plant three different kinds of apples and keep the trees small through pruning. Then you can plant an early, mid and late apple variety, thus spreading out your harvest. If weather conditions are bad for a certain variety one year and that tree does not bear well, the other two trees may compensate for it. Backyard orchard culture takes advantage of the benefits of diversity. It is surprising how much fruit you can produce throughout the year by intensive plantings of a diverse array of fruit trees. In my own front yard I have three apples, a pomegranate, a kumquat and two different lime trees. In my backyard I have another apple, a navel orange, a meyer lemon, a eureka lemon, three peaches, a plum, a fig and a nectaplum tree. None of the trees will be allowed to get more than eight feet high. This way I can cram all these exciting things into my little urban lot. If you doubt you have enough room for a home orchard, think again. You don’t need a lot of space. And we can help you to plan and plant your orchard.
The best resource for further information about backyard orchard culture is from Dave Wilson Nursery. See the BOC page here.