Well, we’re stepping into new territory and learning (Ben’s learning) all about how to cultivate a backyard orchard culture. Say what?!! Basically, it’s all about how to grow an orchard in a small space…
We live in your regular suburban neighborhood, in a tract home that we love (and are slowly infusing our own personality into), so while we have a decent size yard for being in Southern California, it’s still not that big. One side of it is already dedicated to our vegetable gardening (this side gets the most sun), but we wanted to venture out and start growing our own fruit trees too. Ben’s the lead on this project and honestly, I just have him tell me what it’s going to cost and what trees are going in, all the other stuff, it’s on him.
He’s been spending hours (and I probably should say days!) of research into this project and even with all his research, we have hit a few snags that has cost us more time (and money) to figure things out. He’s spoken to master gardeners, professionals, emailed people with questions, there’s just so much to learn and know that Ben really tries hard to do all he can to make sure he’s doing things correctly. First things first though, and we had to get all the grass ripped off from the side that was going to hold our mini orchard. Next, we had to go in and remove some dirt so that Ben could amend the soil. Here’s where the first snag came in, after we all have spent a day or so removing dirt, he did a drain test on the dirt and turns out we have really bad drainage even with the amended soil. After going back and forth for a solution that was going to be the most time efficient and cost effective, we decided to dig 2 feet deep and get all that dirt removed. OYE! Of course, that giant hole was going to be filled up with good dirt with better drainage and that’s what happened.
We found a company that came with a little bobcat to dig deep (can you imagine if we had to do that all ourselves?!) and then they hauled all that dirt out (we tried doing it ourselves first, but I’m glad we didn’t finish the job alone). While we were at it, we decided to rip up the rest of the grass in that area since we were doing such a major overhaul. We figured, might as well go all the way at this point and just take out all the grass since we had wanted to do that eventually. We had to buy giant trucks full of soil, which got dumped in our driveway, and Ben (and John, BFF’s husband) with another guy we hired to help, moved all that dirt to the back and filled up the hole. This beginning has been such an ordeal and has taken so much out of us already, but we know that the investment will definitely be worth it.
Now, we have good dirt in and so comes the tree planting. Last I thought, 23 trees were going in. Yes, I said 23!!! Ben informed me today that the number has been upped a little bit. Oh my world! Now, here’s the thing with a backyard orchard culture… you don’t let trees grow more than 5-7 feet tall and some holes have multiple trees in it. Sounds crazy, I know. This is just the beginning of our journey, so you can be sure there will be many posts to come and I will share more info soon. If you want to start reading about it, Dave Wilson has a plethora of information to get you started.
Do you grow any fruit trees in your yard? Any tips for us beginners?