Are you planning to put in an orchard next spring, or re-design your landscape with more edible plants? Robert Kouriks’ “Your Edible Landscape Naturally” will guide you through each step of the design process.
A good starting point in landscape design is to make a drawing of your landscape, including the hard-scape (buildings, paths, other structures, or the drain field) and existing plants; to scale would be the best. From this drawing you can figure out where your possible growing spaces are and how big they are. Also note where North and South are, areas shaded by structures or other plants and how long those areas receive direct sun (especially from July to September). It is also valuable to note any microclimate locations or other exceptions to what you generally find in your landscape. For example: spots that stay wet into or through the summer, or dry into or through the winter, or vice versa; spots that tend to be particularly hot in the summer or cold and windy in the winter, or vice versa; spots that are in shade year round or are always in full sun; or spots in which the soil is different from the rest of your land.
Do a pH and nutrient (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) test in various possible planting locations so you know what you are starting with. Remember to use distilled water for the test, tap or well water may affect the results.
Determine if you have sand, silt, or clay soil, and what kind of drainage you have. Moisten some soil and rub it between your fingers. If it feels very smooth and sticky, there is a lot of clay in your soil, if it feels gritty there is a lot of sand, in between would indicate a more silty soil. Dig a hole and fill it with water. If the water drains out right away you have fast drainage, if it takes more than a couple of hours your drainage is very slow.Keep in mind that the slope of the land does not affect drainage within the soil profile, only how well water drains off the surface. The goal is to have a good understanding of what you have.
Make a wish list of what you want to grow. Maybe you know of a specific named fruit variety, or perhaps you have a good idea of the type of fruit, harvest time, plant size, or foliage color you are interested in.
Once you have an idea of where you want them, you can prepare the ground for spring planting of fruit and berry plants now. Remove weeds, loosen soil, and mulch the surface with leaves or straw.