Monday, August 22, 2011

Hiked 7 miles today in 2 hours (I'm not counting the 20 minute rest at the top of the hill/mountain) without stopping on the way up.

And I'm trying to come up with a business plan for my orchard/farm idea with my oldest present son, who is really enthused in the idea. We have to figure out how many acres we need to make a decent living, how to deal with the delayed production of standard apple trees, what it is going to cost to get started, etc... Ironically enough, my farming game addiction is paying off here, because the layering techniques that worked so well there can actually be applied to even better effect in real life. What I should do is to clear off one of the "farms" and grid out this plan.

So far I have (listed in order of permanency):
  • Standard apple trees planted 30' apart
  • Hazelnuts, also on a 30' grid staggered between the standard apples.
  • Dwarf apple trees (M9???) planted on a 6' grid which overlays the previous two.
The dwarf apple trees come into production very early and are short lived. They would be treated as disposable apple trees....much as I hate the idea...and would be removed as the standard apples and hazelnuts grow and need more room. Around every standard apple tree: daffodil and narcissus bulbs in a ring just inside the drip line. Their roots are toxic to voles and pocket gophers and provide some protection for the apple trees. I am wondering if along with providing nectar for pollinators, these could be sold as cutflowers....because the roots and leaves would continue to grow and would actually multiply better without the burden of making seed from the spent flowers. Permaculture methods usually specify a ring of comfrey by the dripline. I have no problem with this. Comfrey is good mulch, a good soil conditioner plant, good pasture for almost any animal and a definite obstacle to quackgrass encroaching on the apple tree's roots. Outside of this double protective ring....some kind of legume (alfalfa? clover? bird's foot trefoil?) and various herbs for pollinators, general orchard health, and possible sales. Possibilities include sweetgrass, thyme, lavender, sweet woodruff, bee balm, chamomile and various mints. These plants tend to encourage the beneficial insect life. Maybe small mounds with single strawberry plants could make a grid which intersects between the dwarf apple trees. Hmmmm. And on this orchard floor, chickens and or geese. I'm a little afraid of geese, having encountered some confrontational types, so I was thinking maybe the smallish, known-for-being-gentle Roman Tufted goose, which is also a rare breed in need of preservation. They're supposed to be good foragers.

(edited out because I wanted to retain the post but not the rest of the crap)

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