5 Steps to Our New Orchard

| 5/15/2015 11:22:00 AM

Tags: backyard orchard, Anneli Carter Sundqvist, Deer Isle Hostel, Maine, ,

On the first gray and wet day in April we finally got to plant the first trees in our new orchard. It's been a long time coming but by letting it take so long, we've also been able to observe the land and improve some of the original ideas.

The inspiration for this orchard came when we visited our friend John Bunker in Palermo, ME. He is establishing an orchard, or rather an edible landscape, that in many ways goes against the traditional “fruit trees on a mowed lawn” idea. This acre is wild looking, with numerous other berry shrubs, herbs and flowers growing in a jumble among the fruit trees and the stumps and the brush from the cleared trees has been left right there, with the intent to mimic a natural landscape. He's reasoning is that nature can take care of itself and that fruit trees grown in a polyculture often needs very little human care (spraying, for example) to do well. But mostly what I saw when I looked at what he'd done was the chance to turn that God-forgotten piece of land in the back of our clearing into something, a project that up until then had felt so overwhelming, I couldn't even bring myself to try. When seeing John's place I saw that even the least amount of effort would not only be okay, but in some ways desirable.

Here are 5 steps that we took to create our backyard orchard.


1. We cleared the trees. Very few of the living trees in this area were worth milling into lumber so almost all of them got cut into firewood. At any given year, we don't fell more trees for this purpose than we have time to process and that we can fit in our woodshed so this alone stretched out over almost 3 winters. Some of the dead wood we stacked in a long mound along the back line and some we simply heaped together in a big pile right in the orchard.

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