Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An orchard

The Plan Básico has been submitted to the city for building permission. The architect is working on the Plan de Ejecucíon for plumbing/electrical and the like. So in the meantime, I dream about the garden.

One of the things I´d like to have is an orchard. As already mentioned, there are figs, apples and walnuts already present, although whether or not they´ll survive rehabilitative pruning is unknown. V eats practically no fruit, but he´s got a lemon, an orange and an olive tree, along with 2 apples and a pear in pots that he dotes on. I´d like to have cooking and cider apples, pears, nectarines, lemons and limes (margaritas!) and sour cherries for fruit and pecans and almonds. I´d also like to have raspberries, blueberries, hazelnuts, etc. but being shrubby, I think they´ll be used as dividers or incorporated into hedges.

Now the thing about trees is that they take a long time to produce anything, so it´s important to a) figure out where to put them so that they don´t have to be moved later and can get started growing and b) what kind and where to buy them.

I´ve seen dwarf trees incorporated into cottage/potager gardens within the raised beds, but I wonder if it´s really beneficial to have them in the middle of a cultivated area. Also, from what I read dwarf stock is efficient in terms of space, but semi-dwarf and full sized trees are more long-lived.

photo ruthhallam on flickr

Where space is an issue (and it is) Espalier is often the answer. I´ve always thought it a little like arbor-abuse, but you can get some pretty stunning results. Not sure my skills are up to all that planning, pruning and tieing - but we´ve got nothing but time. There is a 3 foot wall to the east, I wonder if that´s tall enough to use, or maybe trained to form it´s own fencing.

I see 2 potential spots for a small orchard - between the barn and the eastern wall, or off to the west along the creek. Either site would receive full sun and be handy to the house. I wonder how many trees I can get along the eastern edge, and I worry about birds and critters along the western side.

Maybe I´ll just use both.

We have purchased a couple of trees from a place we pass near Lugo on the way home. It seems like pretty standard commercial stuff to me, the surviving pear´s leaves are always droopy, the apple has produced fruit and one standard rose never broke dormancy. I can´t say anything at the big box stores has impressed me either.

But on Infojardin (in Spanish) there was a handy thread about nurseries.

If anyone has any places they´d like to recommend for bareroot trees or fruiting shrubs etc., that will ship to Spain - let me know!

Some links you may find helpful if you´re interested in growing fruit:

Restoring Mayberry - Fences of Fruit Trees
Garden web Fruit Forum
Walden Effect blog 5 part Espalier series


  1. I love, love, loved espalier trees.

  2. Can´t wait until you come over and help me with all the twisty-ties!

  3. Off to the left along the creek would ensure maximum growth speed and mean you would never have to water them (envy, envy). A pain watching your fruit drop into the water and rot though. I'd never plant a tree in the middle of a vegetable bed - there's not much that will grow strongly and healthily in shade, whilst competing at the same time for water.

  4. I´ve often wondered about shading myself - not to mention root competition and watering.

    The creek was down to a trickle when we were there, so I think watering would still be an issue.

    Maybe I´ll go with the espalier along the east (for Tom) and regular trees along the creek.