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New plans for a small orchard

Hi I am planning to plant a small orchard in my garden but wanted some advice on what to plant and what to plant in between the trees as ground cover . Ideas are very welcome 


  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 6,024
    we inherited a small orchard on moving here, I have some pics, back in the summer on garden design, 2 apples, (one died) 2 pears, a plum. There was just grass, now its underplanted with wildflower meadow, looks nice, good for the insects.  Is my little bit of Virginia Woolfs, look alike
  • Oh fab I would love to see them ! Do the wild flowers thrive even though the ground is rich ? 
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,577
    I suppose you have to ask yourself the basic question “If I bought a house with a ready made orchard, what would I want to eat and what would I not bother to touch?” 

    Are you interested in cooking? Would you want a cooking apple? Do you mind if the birds pinch everything (cherries) or are you wanting to grow an orchard for yourself?

    Lots to think about.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 7,558
    I suggest you only choose one pear tree.  One is enough usually to provide fruit for two people and we have found picking and storing them sufficiently well to actually get to eat them a bit problematic. Ours is a Williams, I suppose other varieties may be better?

    We also have a dual apple, Elstar/Golden Delicious, a James Grieves and two cordon apples, Royal Gala and ? (sorry, can't remember the name offhand). The latter two haven't fruited yet, I think they don't get enough sunshine. All on dwarf rootstocks and in a rather small space. I have only grass underneath with small bulbs around the tree trunks.
  • Definitely apples, I have a very old pear but don’t really eat them although the butterflies love them . Plums and I wanted cherries but don’t want to cage anything. Any experience with mulberries? 
  • Thanks Lizzie I will need dwarf stock too, hoping sunshine shouldn’t be an issue too much as we are south facing 
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,577
    I have a mulberry tree. They are supposed to be slow to come to maturity and fruiting age. It’s true. Mine is over ten years old and I’m still waiting for the first flower.

    The smaller the rootstock for apples, the more care and attention they need. Very small ones need staking for life and need very fertile soil. Larger rootstocks only need staking for a couple of years and can live on poorer soils. Small ones achieve maturity earlier than large ones.

    Make sure that the varieties you choose all belong to the same flowering group (they flower at the same time) or an adjacent flowering group (there is usually some overlap between dates).

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 6,367
    First step is to map out the space you have, work out how many trees you want and then see if there are suitable trees on suitable root-stocks for the space. Pick the trees based on what produce you can reasonably deal with and want to deal with. For example I have Bramley Seedling as my cooking apple because the apples will store all winter and often well into the spring (but you need suitable storage space). I have Katy apples which are lovely eaters but don't store unless you dry them. They're lovely dried but it takes time to process a whole tree worth. If you want to make juice or cider then pick an apple that softens quickly in storage or they'll be a pig to press.

    If you want cherries make sure the tree is in view of the house with a clear shot and a safe backstop. I have some nice pigeon recipes if you get that far ;)

    For the first few years while the trees establish it's often best to keep the ground quite clear between the trees and bare soil around the roots. I like to mow my grass right down before the fruit falls just to make picking easier. It makes sense to have a spring/early summer wildflower mix so you don't have to mow the flowers at their peak or when they're ripening seed.
  • Thanks Pansy face and wild edges, another reason to despise pigeons ( my poor cabbages!) I quite fancy my hand at cider so might plan that . However mulberry seems to be a miss for me ! 
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 6,367
    Tom putt is a good cider apple. It makes a good cooker too if you don't fancy pressing one year. Doesn't store well though so stewing and freezing is the best bet. I'm trying to get hold of a goose's arse just for the fun name. It's a heritage Welsh apple before you get the wrong idea...
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