In the orchard
Ben has an orchard full of 40+ fruit & nut trees, part of his long- term insurance policy.
Why you need orchard insurance
In an organic orchard or tree cropping woodland, the design and choice of species thrives on diversity. Diversity is the key to good farm health and makes the land incredibly productive. Even so, half of our property is kept in open, sunny pasture by mowing, and grazing by geese. Pasture grasses predominate, with the obvious blackberries to be kept in check and eagerly harvested.
Wekas run rampant throughout, eating the slugs. Songbirds - tui, bellbird, pigeon - are attracted to the blossoms of Euclayptus, Phormium and tree fuchsia. Blackbirds and thrushes work hard at keeping the vicious local snails at bay in the garden and nursery. There are many insects and spiders. Fantails eat flies and wasps. Wild bee swarms occasionally nest in summer.
To continue with the theme of maximum diversity from last month, I’m taking you on a tour through my garden. There’s the fruit trees I wrote about which have proven to be productive. Many of us plant new and weird species to try and discover a new culinary delight particular to our climate, and we can all dream about it, but the huge variation in climates in NZ means something unexpected may work for you too out in Waimanga-nowhere.
Nature is unpredictable, and one advantage of having diversity is it acts like an insurance policy. If the climate suddenly veers to tropical we might lose out on the hazelnuts, but that means we start getting good crops of bananas. Conversely if we go colder, the apples, hazels and plums will come into their own when the citrus are blackened stumps. Having lots of these funny species can be a good back-up plan for the future.
Many species of tree and plant cross over several uses. For example, black walnut and cherry struggle along here as future carving wood trees, and may one day also make fruit and nuts. These are multi-purpose species and they are good choices for diversity. Broad-leafed hardwoods bring deep soil nutrients to the surface and help create good soil over the years.
A few perennials produce edible food each year and have to be mentioned. These are raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, and wasabe radish, all contributing to the summer table. You could add Jerusalem artichoke here but nobody likes eating them. They certainly grow though.
Hopefully this optimistic list will inspire you to go out on more of a limb and try absurd fruits with an eye to the rose-coloured future we all dream of.
These are trees which are surviving in my challenging conditions. Really good prospects which actually fruit sometimes are in italics.
A kiwifruit, apple, plum and fig all jumbled together.