Transforming the Orchard, P. Allen Smith Style

I’ve been inspired, by P. Allen Smith’s Stone Fruit Orchard, to take our small orchard to another level.  So, over the past few weekends, I’ve had Matt working on this area of our homestead for me, constructing raised beds around our stone fruit trees.  Using left-over 2 x 6’s that we found on our property (and a few more newly purchased ones), this is what he constructed…

This area will eventually contain six heirloom, semi-dwarf peach, nectarine, and plum trees underplanted with strawberries, filling the large, wood-bordered boxes ( all of the trees are from Trees of Antiquity, my absolute favorite place for finding unique, historical trees that I just can’t get locally).

Right now, I’m filling all of the boxes with fallen leaves and uprooted weeds.  These will decompose, over the winter, under several inches of finished compost.

In the middle of the orchard lie two, half-buried, metal boxes that I’ve already planted with strawberries (both of which were given to me from some thoughtful and generous friends — I love the look: rustic/industrial!).

I’m thinking about lining the walkways with some crushed granite or pea gravel — a few arbors and grape or kiwi vines would look amazing in the entrance/exit spaces, too, don’t you think?

I love that the area is, now, well-defined and gives a more formal look to this part of our homestead.  I think Matt did a wonderful job creating these simple, raised beds, and I’m looking forward to watching how it evolves over the years, and to harvesting all of the delicious fruits that we’re going to harvest here!

It may not be on quite the same scale as P. Allen Smith’s orchard, but I think it’s just the perfect style and size for our Happy Homestead.

Do you have an orchard that you might now be inspired to transform or create?


2 thoughts on “Transforming the Orchard, P. Allen Smith Style

    • Ann Marie,
      Do you know exactly what zone you are in? It looks like you are either zone 7 or 8, which is similar to me, so you’ll have lots of choices. Trees of Antiquity has tons of trees in the climate zones ranging from 5-9, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding something you like. Even if you don’t purchase from them, you can at least get the names of varieties you’d like to have in your garden, then look for local availability. Your local nurseries will also have selections that are perfect for your area.
      The soil is going to be your bigger challenge. You’ll have to do a lot of amending to your soil, but it can be done. Here is a one formula for sandy soil, from the San Diego Earth Times, back in 1999:
      For every 100 square feet of garden space use:

      20 cubic feet of organic compost
      2 lbs. bat or seabird guano
      2 lbs. rock phosphate
      10 lbs. gypsum or lime
      2 lbs. greensand
      2 lbs. kelp enzyme (Kelzyme) or kelp meal

      Spread these products over the area and till into the top 6-8 inches of the existing soil with a roto-tiller or by hand digging. This is the only time you should ever till the garden. In the future, you can let the organics and the earthworms do the aerating.

      Once this is done, the garden is ready to plant. In about two to three months, add 2 lbs. of hoof and horn meal or alfalfa meal to the garden by broadcasting and the fertilize with a balanced organic about every 6 months. Remember to mulch the garden to save moisture.

      From this program, you will see a change in the soil within the first year. But by the third year and after only six fertilizations, you will have the garden soil you want. The soil will be rich in texture, dark in color and will hold moisture very well.
      Now is the perfect time to start amending. Come spring, you could have a really great area to start an orchard.
      Good luck!

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