5 steps from for­est to or­chard

There’s no place for big forestry trees in an or­chard, but smaller ones have their place.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - In The Orchard - BEN GAIA

You can ar­gue there is a place for pear, hazel and other wild fruit species in a mixed tree crop­ping wood­land – they aren’t go­ing to in­ter­fere with your gi­ant oaks, pines or elms.

How­ever, if you have a fruit or­chard then big pines, cy­press, or gum trees are go­ing to shade it too much, and one day will need felling, or worse, will blow down ran­domly and take your fruit trees with them. This is not a good long term plan.

But you can squeeze in use­ful cop­pic­ing trees like hazel­nut and ch­est­nut through a large or­chard for in­ter­nal shel­ter, and add a whole ex­tra layer of pro­duc­tiv­ity. I have seen this done with wal­nuts too, al­though I don’t rec­om­mend this as their leaves are a menace and mess up other plants be­low.

Shel­ter belts can also pro­duce good, small di­am­e­ter wood and nuts – hazels are great for this.

In 2014 I de­cided to con­demn some fal­ter­ing 13-year-old Law­son cy­press and open up a dark weedy cor­ner of the or­chard. In au­tumn (May-june) a dozen cy­press are cleared, leav­ing a north-fac­ing shel­tered glade to catch the sun. It’s sur­rounded by tall shel­ter to the east and south, with ap­ple trees, gorse and a bay tree of­fer­ing shel­ter to the west. There are crop trees of ch­est­nut and Chi­nese elm left through the area, along with alder and some ponga for in­ter­nal shel­ter and beauty.

As I peel back the cover of gorse, failed forestry trees and gums which are too close to the power lines, I heave a sigh of re­lief that I will not be pick­ing bits of smashed pear tree out of next year’s fire­wood log pile. A prized red­wood has out­per­formed the cy­presses, so it is pruned up to let in more light. Two large Eu­ca­lyp­tus fasti­gata are felled to avoid drop­ping them onto the new or­chard area in years to come, and so there’s no risk of them blow­ing storm de­bris onto the power lines.

A bit of plan­ning and drop­ping trees in the right or­der helps things go smoothly on the life­style block. With­out the big trees, more sun­light gets in to warm the trees and soil. The geese and horse will bring in grass seed in time, and we over­sow clover for a soil-bind­ing edi­ble pas­ture ley. The horse will not be let into this area un­til the trees are big enough to avoid be­ing flat­tened, and only when their branches are bare.



fire­wood. A 2m Law­son trunk is turned into a gate post strainer.


TH­ESE GOR­GEOUS drinkers and feed­ers are new to Chook Manor, bring­ing some cot­tage gar­den style to the prac­ti­cal equip­ment you need to keep your hens happy and healthy.

The Cot­tage Gar­den feeder is a heavy duty, zinc-plated feeder that holds ap­prox­i­mately 3.5kg of mash, pel­lets or grain, and comes in blue, green or hot pink.

The Cot­tage Gar­den drinker also comes in the same trendy colours, and this heavy duty, zinc-plated unit holds ap­prox­i­mately 4-litres of fresh wa­ter.

Th­ese are some of the great prod­ucts for your hens avail­able from the poul­try spe­cial­ists at Chook Manor. Its range in­cludes coops and hen houses, in­cu­ba­tors, mite, lice and pest con­trol, rol, plus food and health prod­ucts.

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