Orchard Design Ideas

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Daniel.Mav, Jan 28, 2018.

  1. DarrenP

    DarrenP Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I have been practising rotation planting, but at the same time also companion planting. I recently read a book about companion planting; can't remember the author's name as I borrowed it from the library. This author stated that with extreme (my word) companion planting, you don't need to rotate crops.
    I haven't tried it myself, yet. I plan to dabble with both styles of planting over winter. One of my summer beds ended up that way, with cucumbers, corn and beans planted, and I had a chilli, tomato, and a pumpkin come up from the compost. Everything seemed to grow ok, although the cucumbers did better after the tomato died down.
     
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  2. Daniel.Mav

    Daniel.Mav Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wow @ClissAT you always reply with such detail, thank you for taking the time to explain it so well. I will redraw the design again today. I will make the raspberry, grape and black berry beds bigger and change the vegetable beds to a N-S orientation. Before I seaw it again though, do you think the general placement of it all is optimal? My thinking behind it all is this; the orchard on the high end with the HSTP sprayers and to help with draining;
    the chickens/ducks in the center with the compost bins to allow for easy access and neutrients to soak down the slope towards the vegetable beds;
    the bananas and paw paws around the stormpit to soak up the water and the large mulberry and nut trees towards the back to stop shading out the area. Bamboo in the corner to use for future staking.
    Goats at this point are not a definite and if I do get them it'll be in 5-8 years when my daughter is older which is why I placed them under the nut trees.
    I did think the ducks may be better on the lower side infront of the storm pit and extend the chicken run out. My plan is to eventually fence around the orchard and vegetable beds to allow for the poultry to scratch around during the off season or even use tractors in the rows.
    So that was my thinking behind the placement. What do you think? Have I missed something? I'd like to get the placement right before I fiddle with the dimentions.
     
  3. Daniel.Mav

    Daniel.Mav Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Oh and I was planning on doing crop rotations with the beds - so I will add another one to make it 6.
     
  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    On the whole Daniel, I think you are on the right track. You are taking all uses into consideration & thinking into the future which is always good.

    Google Earth has 3D which will show elevation & geography of your block & you can take screen prints of those images which can be an enormous help regarding elevation & direction of slopes.

    As I look at the plans you have drawn thus far I see that you are aligning your beds parallel with your fences & boundary.
    Its quite natural to do this because it looks so clean & precise to the human eye & brain.

    However, using your latest plan, a better alignment would be to run your beds at around 45degrees to your 'front' & tilting away to the top right. I am assuming the 'front' of your garden is nearest the area marked 'grass'? They could still be accessed from you center paths & the rows.

    One of many reasons is when mowing you go into the row at a far reduced angle. Not needing to turn hard at 90degrees therefore making mowing & barrowing much easier. So much easier to drive in & reverse out.

    I may not be making myself as clear as I would like & I would love to create my version of your plan but my computer is having a bad week so all my creative & photo software is out of action!

    One thing about running rows diagonally within a rectangular area is you end up with triangular pieces in each corner. But they can be put to good use for all sorts of things, like wood pile, duck or chook pen, chemical or fertilizer storage shed, compost heaps, banana circle, large tree position where half the width of the tree gets to hang over the fence thereby reducing the area it takes up inside the fenced area.

    I make this note for you as I see you have 4 nut trees taking up a lot of space at the back end of the garden. Placing one in each corner right against the fence would significantly reduce the space the tree used within the garden space. As the trees grew, the ducks & chooks could be moved to have their dwellings under those trees while still having access to the whole or parts of the garden as you needed.

    Another way to do the diagonal rows is not to have a center isle or row running from front to back at all. Just run rows diagonally from left to right with the lefthand end of the rows closest to the 'front'. Plant all those tall plantings down the SW fence so as not to shade any of the ground in winter but to provide arvo shade in summer. Your center row where you have chooks, ducks, compost etc could be halfway along your diagonal rows.

    So effectively, take your current plan & tilt it 45degrees to the right inside the fence, then slide all the beds along to fit inside the fence. Then move the banana, bamboo, etc from the SE end to the SW long side & put a nut tree in each corner. In anycase Daniel, that might be a good exercise just to see whether you gained space.

    Something to note regarding the use of grey water & HSTP, even that which has been treated & pH adjusted, is that many plants don't like it fullstop & many don't like it applied to their leaves. This has been a hard lesson for me this last 6mths since discovering I cant use my dam water. So the only garden water I have just now is my daily grey water which is chemical free & mostly soap free as I only use minimal natural soap. Still, many plants are resenting it applied to their leaves &/or root zones. eg cucurbits such as cucumber & zucchini of all types positively hate it; some lettuce; root crops; beans & peas hate it; many flowers. Other things love it so basically its trial & error but I would guard against aerial/spray application of any sort.
     
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  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I think you're definitely getting there Daniel.

    I can say without doubt your planning is 10x more then I did :D

    I'm still winging it lol...

    My basic plan was to have the main veggie garden central to get the most sun, the orchard on the higher ground for the best drainage, and the poultry down the back away for everything to graze and forage in the bushland.

    After that very basic plan, I'm now fitting fruit trees wherever I can and even replacing ornamentals with fruit trees!

    I've expanded pens and retrofitted things to improve areas etc - it's never ending - but it's good fun.

    Let me say, it's great that you are planning your property so well but with all your planning you'll still make changes and rearrange things over-time. Nature loves to keep us on our toes :)
     
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  6. Daniel.Mav

    Daniel.Mav Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I’ve just uploaded a quick little tour of my backyard. Let me know what you think. I’ll add some more detailed videos this week.
     
  7. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I can see you've put a lot of thought into the design, Daniel, so complements to you for putting in the effort.
    So many people just go willy nilly and stick things where they fall so end up with an uncontrolled mess.
    You've got a great elevated outlook.

    The first thing that struck me was that you need to lock yourselves inside your house! What happens in event of a fire? Is the crime so bad in your area you can't have an open door? I struggle to fathom why people feel so unsafe they must keep themselves locked in! There are so many military people living at Greenbank, surely that's enough?

    Anyway re your garden, I see you have the yellow dirt. That as I now recall from my horticulture days means poor soil with high iron similar to the type I have. It can't be cleaned or filtered out of the ground water and every fertilizer eventually makes the problem worse because they all contain some iron which just adds to the burden.
    This is why you have the yellowing older leaves on everything and possibly stunted produce that might be a bit bitter tasting.

    Lots of compost, potash and nitrogen to amend your soil will go a long way, along with heaps of chicken manure. So you are getting that one covered in time. Your trees look healthy so far. Thats a great start.

    You might struggle to grow grass under the mature iron bark trees I see growing in the background. I was trying to see if the neighbours with more advanced yards had been successful at getting grass to grow under their trees. Also, like everywhere else along the east coast of Australia, you've had your fair share of drought which never helps. Try growing native couch under the trees. It likes shady places but doesn't like to be mowed too short or all all if you can resist! ;)

    I think you might find your orchard is constantly in part shade due to the sun orientation in relationship to those tall existing trees. I would have put the orchard where you plan to put more lawn so it got full sun and then run the poultry all along that shady side where you now have your fruit trees. That way you would negate several problems of trying to get grass to grow, shading of trees, summer shade for poultry and it would provide a greatly extended chook run too.

    The ducks should be on the downhill side of the hens as ducks need a lot of water particularly in the summer. Plus, during the wet season, the run off will flow across the chook pen, polluting an area which, for best practice, should be kept as dry as possible. Chooks and water, particularly duck water, don't mix.

    Now you may or not know I am a manic fighter for chook rights! So my advice is always for the benefit of the hen and aims to include best practice where possible. It is never meant to offend the owner but rather to improve the lot of hens who work so hard for us every day at great expense to their own bodies and of course in the end, producing all those eggs costs them their lives. Any advice I give is what I hope people will strive to achieve as they are able.

    If you don't plan to let your chooks out from their pen, make it as big as possible. It would be best to double what you have there now if you plan to have two yards. 10 chooks permanently running on that small area is just inviting health and psychological issues. As you are able or as you find free mulch say from neighbouring trees being cut and chipped, which ever pen being used currently should be covered thickly. This prevents dust, keeps the soil cool and in good condition underneath which provides habitat for insects for the hens to scratch up. Having a good supply inside their pen will help take their minds off flying out.

    I'm also hoping you plan to build a full sized chook house for them at a future time. That little cubby is only suitable for about 4 chooks in a kind season at best. For best practice, a person needs to be able to walk around inside the chook house to clean the red backs, manure and old bedding out of it and clear any infestation of red mites that starts living in the crevices of the timber by painting the whole inside with oil or miticide product. The mites I'm referring to are the ones that live under the scales of chook's legs and cause the deformation of their legs. Having those is a classic sign of bad hygeine and poor husbandry.

    As all chook owners soon become aware, you will eventually need to separate one or more hens for all sorts of reasons and you need to be able to catch them in the early evening (or at any other time by calling them into the chookhouse with an offer of food), where you can gather up the afflicted hen. Then she/they need to go into a separate clean or sterile pen or reasonable sized cage for injury treatment or whatever.

    How do you apply the various health remedies currently? A chook needs to regularly be dusted for mites, individually wormed so you know for sure that every chook got her dose, treated for other illness or injury. The best time to do that is at roosting time when, once they begin to settle on their perches, under torchlight you carefully pick them off one at a time and apply the treatments then put them back in their same spot. Each hen has her allocated spot on the perch dictated by the head hen. Taking each off the perch in turn prevents confusion over who got done and there's no trauma among the flock. Being able to stand to do all these husbandry needs is so much better than scrunching around on your knees in the manure. Each hen requires 40cm of perch length for a comfortable night's sleep. So 10 hens will need 4m of perch that isn't sited above each other or over the nesting boxes. This prevents manure falling onto the lower hens or into the nesting area which causes dirty eggs and disease.

    Also its best if the ground under the back of these perches can be directly accessed to remove the buildup of manure on a weekly basis. Regular composting of the fresh manure prevents flies breeding in it particularly during the wet season. I always put a thick layer of sawdust or straw under the perch ladder for ease of removal and to prevent lumps of wet manure forming which attracts flies. Sawdust and shavings can be sourced for free in bale bags from men's sheds etc.

    Once your chooks discover that great big world of green grass and great insect availability outside their pen, they will fly over that short fence. No self respecting chook would baulk at that short height even with clipped wings. What happens now with aeriel attack from birds of prey including crows (plus of course, foxes)? Have the crows not yet discovered that there are eggs inside that little house? That being the case, you are very lucky!

    Good on you Daniel, it looks like things are off to a great start. You know the 7 P's don't you?
     
  8. Daniel.Mav

    Daniel.Mav Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Cheers for the advice ClissAT,
    Unfortunately break ins are very common here and that was in the morning so it was obviously locked.
    The sun rises in the back left corner and sets in the front right corner with both vegetable garden and orchard getting sun for the majority of the day. We’ve left as many mature trees on the block as possible, with the plan to remove them only if needed. The block slopes towards the back left corner so the ducks will be on the lower side of the chickens and there’s a drainage pit next to the proposed duck coop to stop any excess water pooling. We’ve had good success with wintergreen couch and the neighbours have all seemed to have success with it too. We are planning to lay 150m2 sections to make it easier to water and maintain each new section.
    We are planning on building an A-frame weatherboard shed and will be making a replica from the same materials for the chickens. The chickens do enjoy the free ranging through the orchard where there is some grass and mulch for them to pick bugs from. I actually just laid a thick layer of mulch in their run, which they’ve been enjoying. They all roost together on two perches which are in an X shape. They all fit on the perch and we haven’t had any issues with it yet but when I make the new coop I’ll look into more perch designs.
    Thank you again for all the hints and tips.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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