Design 2:2

The Orchard

Location: Finca Florecer 
Zone 3
Design process: SADIM
Date started: January 2013
Date Finished: November 2013
 

Survey

This terrace is located in Zone 3. Situated on the terrace below the house and close for maintenance and harvest collection, but is not on a pathway that is used on a daily basis.

The land is exposed to the elements. Strong winds come from the west and it's full sun during the summer. The soil is compacted with little humus content. The plants that are there are mostly small shrubs such as; gorse, globularia alypum (Globe Daisy), rue, artemisia, cirsium (thistles) and thyme and a small self seeded pine.. There are two fully grown Olive trees and three Carob trees two of which are very big. Along the edge of the Carob trees are some olive and carob seedlings mixed in with some Pistacia lentiscus bushes, (seeds dropped by bird).

The grey-water exit from the house come out on this terrace.

Analysis

Identify Functions:

  • Fruit and trees to provide personal yield, with surplus to for the chickens.

  • Nitrogen fixing bushes to support trees

  • Aromatic herbs to deter pests and promote pollinators

  • Diversify an area which has little to no growth on it.

Limiting factors:​

  • Compacted soil

  • Little growing apart from shrubby weeds

  • Exposed site from wind and sun

Using the grey-water from the house uses renewable resource, by taking a waste product and turning it into a yield of fruit, nuts and herbs that will feed my family and the waste can be fed to the chickens, ducks and pig, as well as the wild life in the area.

Adding a variety of fruit trees will help bring diversity into an otherwise desolate area. The herbs and shrubs will create more edge and variation in height to the terrace which can act as a wind break.

The Orchard Base Map
The Orchard, Elevation

Design

Plant list

Trees

1. Cherry 

2. apple x2

3. Almond x2

4. Apricot x2

5. Pomegranate x2

6. Plum x2

7. Mimosa ( nitrogen fixer)

Shrubs

8. Lavender x3 ( fire retardant )

9. Sage x2 ( insect repellent )

10. Elaeagnus x3 ( nitrogen fixer )

14. Tasmannia lanceolata (wild life food )

Herbs

12. Lemon verbena 

13. Fennel

Other Plants interspersed between trees and shrubs

Asparagus 

Broad beans ( soil conditioner )

Artichoke

Implementation

I dug holes as deep as possible for the fruit trees, to break up the compacted ground, filled them with water from the grey-water collection tank and let that drain away.

I divided the terrace into two sides with a path running through the middle. In the future I will hopefully have a shady pathway to walk under in the summer, as the canopy grows.

I put the less hardy Fruits such as the apples and pears on the inner side of the terrace and more native hardy trees such as Almonds on the outer side as these would handle the winds better.

The cherry was planted into the place with the deepest soil on the terrace as it will be the biggest of trees growing in this space.

The smaller fruits such as the Apricots I planted next to the almonds, they need a lot of early sun to ripen so although will be exposed they will not be shaded by the other trees.

I planted three Elaegnus as nitrogen fixers between the Prunus trees for soil conditioning and as a buffer to break up the strong westerly winds.

Along the front edge of the terrace I left as much of the original shrubs in place and inter-planted between them with lavender for pest and fire control. On the Apple/pear side of the terrace I have planted sage to do the same job.

To the east of the terrace I made a low sub terrace, scraping the soil off the bedrock above to fill it.

Here I planted a plum and a mimosa to attract beneficial insects to the site.

Around the fruit trees I planted a lot of garlic to stop the grasses encroaching and as a deterrent to ants, various herbs and plants were planted in the spaces that were spare between the other shrubs and herbs such as asparagus, clarey sage, lemon verbena, and artichoke.

After a good watering I mulched the whole terrace with straw.

In the first stage of development, I decided to disturb the ground as little as possible. I had discovered that when you dig into this soil, nothing grows back for a very long time.

I gave the shrubs that were already there a good cutting back and this gave me a lot of waste material. I dug some trenches at the edge of the terrace, added in all the waste and then covered it over with the soil that I had removed. I had not only got rid of the waste, but also built a mini swale that would slow rain-water run off from the terrace.

Maintenance

What went well? What was challenging?

The first few years went well. It was hard to water with just the grey-water from the house. I eventually got irrigation down there which maintained the tree through the hot summer months.

It ended up becoming zone two for a few years while I had the chicken and ducks separated in two coops making this terrace a circular route that I would take every day between feeding the animals, this helped with the maintenance and watering.

Disaster hit in the summer of 2017 when temperatures reached 36* in the first week of June. I didn't loose all the fruit trees but they died back tremendously.

In the end I think I was too ambitious with the selection of trees I used for this terrace. I would have been better off to have planted some pioneer trees on the sunny side of the terrace that would have shaded the fruit trees while they grew.

What are my next achievable steps? 

Redesign the orchard using more appropriate plants that would support and condition the soils, before introducing more fruit trees. Use better methods of soil conditioners i.e mulches composting, compost teas, and time!

What are my long term goals?

Plant nitrogen fixing and pioneer trees that would create shade to support the more delicate fruit trees. 

develop interest in this area for visitors to show how this area functions with the other elements on the land by creating an easy use path and identification plates for the trees. By linking the pathways between other parts of the farm I can make a guided tour around the land. 

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