Start a Permaculture Orchard Using the NAP Method


Permaculture Orchard Wide Angle

In a quest to increase our self-sufficiency, my husband and I discovered permaculture. We immersed ourselves in permaculture literature and videos and came away inspired to try some new techniques for resilient living.

Our ultimate goal in life is to decrease our consumerism and increase our ability to live off our land and enjoy the fruits of our own labours. Permaculture, an agricultural ecosystem intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient, looked to be just what we were searching for.

We were particularly struck by the concept of food forests and permaculture orchards. We purchased the DVD from Stefan Sobkowiak (The Permaculture Orchard: Beyond Organic, 2014) and were inspired to begin our own orchard.

Prior to discovering permaculture, we had pondered creating an orchard of heritage apples for hard cider, however, a monoculture of apples is neither sustainable nor self-sufficient and would require many inputs. A permaculture orchard, on the other hand, has multiple layers of vegetation that not only produce something edible, but also improve the soil, and can either attract the beneficial insects or repel the harmful ones.

The Nitrogen, Apple, Plum/Pear Method of Orcharding

We liked Sobkowiak’s N.A.P. method of alternating the trees so that one kind of tree is always separated from another of its kind. Using N.A.P., a nitrogen-fixing tree is planted, then an apple tree, and then a pear/plum tree — this pattern is repeated to several times to complete a row of trees. The rows to the left and right would start with either the apple or pear/plum to ensure the separation between kinds is maintained across the rows as well.

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