Planting a small orchard.


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S-W Ontario
Gardening for the future.
Pictured is my garden space at the back of the lot. Soil is heavy Kent County clay, rain will pool on it and then the sun will bake and crack the surface. Worked it up twice so far with the neighbour's roto tiller, planted 2 rows of potatoes, a row of turnips and radishes with a row of onions and some corn to come. Experienced neighbour tells me root crops will disappoint in this soil.
Since this is the first time I have lived in a climate zone that will not kill peach trees over the winter and with the fond hope that I will beat the actuarial odds and taste the fruit of my efforts, I went out and bought two peach trees, two apple trees and pear.
"Installed" them today. I will have to add more stakes and some ties promptly.
Was thinking of planting a grove of walnut trees to sell for veneer down the road, but thought I was being presumptious enough with a 10 year plan.


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Very Nice! My wife and I always used to have gardens. Tomatoes grow well here and zucchini and all the Mediterranean herbs.
We have sun living citrus trees in our back yard. I also have grape vines and had a Santa Rosa Plum tree that has since kicked the bucket. The birds eat the grapes and they used to be hell on the plums also. Had to net the tree and then we would go outside and there would be birds trapped inside the netting, so we gave up and let the birds eat their fill!
I love figs and planted a small tree a couple of years ago. The tree did poorly!! So this year for a month I feed it a cup of good old fashion piss each day and it has really taken off. So just remember, the best fertilizer is often close to hand. I am now giving my olive tree a special treat each day to get some life back into it. Amaziing stuff this piss!!!!
I went a little fruit tree crazy two years ago, planting two apples, a Santa Rosa plum, and two mandarin oranges. You probably know that you need two different apples for them to pollinate, mine are Pink Lady and Fuji, both do well here and are my favorites anyway, and I have a nice little crop of them this year. Had a single plum this year that I knocked off when lawn mowing, but tree looks great and I bet it'll be covered with them next year.

I used to do a large-ish garden every year. Taters, beets, carrots, string beans, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, peas and cukes.
Old age (getting down on my hands and knees to weed isn't too bad. Getting UP, on the other hand...), potato bugs, goddamndeer (all one word...) and frigginrabbits (also one word) pretty much took all the fun out of that.

So now I'm down to this:


I can weed it any time I walk by it (while standing on my hind legs!!!) and water it from a hose.

Four tomato plants, 6 string bean plants, 6 pepper plants, some carrots, a couple rows of radishes and 4 pea vines that survived.

I do still have 4 crowns of rhubarb, 4 raspberry vines and a grape vine down in the original garden. The rhubarb is the only thing I can count on. Birds eat the raspberries (if they even produce) and frost gets the grapes before they're ready 9 years out of 10.

EDIT: When I had the big garden, I also had a dog (or dogs). Wife developed serious allergies to pet hair, dogs had to go, veggie poachers moved in.
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In the close garden, I built three boxes using recycled lumber from the above ground pool and deck that used to occupy the space.


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Rototillers aren't a good tool to use for heavy clay areas.........The blades glaze the bottom of the tilled area and creates a pan,the water has trouble seeping threw. Better to use a spline hoe on a larger garden, (small garden double dig to 2 shovel depths), and if possible scrape out a layer to about a shovel depth then use the splines to break up the second layer of clay, and the 2nd shovel depth gives decent depth for the water to drain. As the sun dries and bakes the clay on top into lumps you have to go around and pound on the soil with the flat of the shovel to break it down to fine soil. the first year is mostly prep and should use the plants roots to help brake up the soil and to be dug back into the soil. leguum crops are best............ take a couple of years of prep or at least one year..............but it can be the best soil for gardening after that and will grow those root veges real well. There is no quick way of doing this. Been there and done that and found this way was very successful.

All kitchen waste, (organic), except orange,lemon,grapefruit rind, can be put back into the garden, (dig a shovel full of clay out and dump the days waste in the hole and fill), without going through a compost heap, and this will break down real fast into humus and helps to attract and keep worms which will enhance and brake down the clay and help growing powers even better.
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It is amazing to see all the different machinery the farmers around here use on their land. This area is all cash cropped; very few farms have animals in a commercial quantity. They rotate corn, beans, winter wheat; some areas have the soil and drainage for tomatoes, peppers, sugar beets, pumpkins, canning peas and more I have not yet identitfied.
You are right, clay soil takes special attention. That back garden had been seriously neglected till we came last year. My wife planted a bunch of stuff, but the weeds took over and worst, a bumper crop of beautiful tomatoes was ruined by an attack of some sort of blight that killed the leaves and made the fruit turn to mush in your hand. So this spring I let the weeds grow up to almost setting seed, then roto tilled it, then let the weeds go again and went at it again.
The tilth is marginally better, but I planted stuff that will not need daily picking as the front garden (ex pool) is closer and hopefully does not harbour the tomato blight. And speaking of decommissioning an above ground pool, it took an incredible amount of dirt trucked in the fill the hole left by a 27 foot pool. The centre had been dug down almost five feet!
Back garden this spring after tilling and a weekend of rain, full drain to the east of garden, one of many in the area that drains north to the Thames River which in turn drains into Lake St. Clair, (I think). River is further away from here than Lake Erie but it is lower and thus falls away to the north.
Last pic is the front garden same weekend, a couple weeks later it was so dry it was cracking and hard as cement.


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For those with poor soil or a decrease in dexterity, you might consider "bale" gardening. We use wheat straw because the feed value is too low for the animals and it is fairly available.
We drove "T" posts in at 6' intervals laying the bales on their sides. Cattle panels are then laid on top and tied to the posts. About two weeks before planting add fertilizer along the bales to stimulate break down. Then plant in the straw. Add a drip hose and done.
We are in our fourth year doing this by alternating sides of the posts. The jury is still out but I think it may help with nematodes and some of the "wilts" that develope when you plant tomatoes in the same spot multiple years.

Nothing is better than fresh from the garden.
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I'm retired as of this year so I finally got to get serious about the garden. The corn is coming in good but the beans and sunflowers were ravaged by the deer.
One of the best things I did this year was to buy a single row cultivator for my tractor. This really helps keep the weeds down.
In the right corner you can see my yearly compost pile. Leaves from the Fall, grass from the spring and horse and chicken manure. It cooks all year and gets spread in the Winter.
Beyond the corn you can see six fruit trees. I also have three blueberries that are producing heavily now and four grape vines that I am trying to get going again.
Each fruit tree has it's own five foot fence to keep the !$%&deer away.
Good thread.
We have clay soil but everything is on a slope of varying degrees up here on the ridge so we get drainage. Having moved here from South Jersey with its perc Garden State soil we couldn't imagine anything being productive in this clay, but with organic material added and mixed through the years we do well.
The varmints were a problem. We wrapped our gardens in 4' variable livestock fence, added strung wire above that on the 'T' posts and added bamboo uprights to dissuade the deer, but then had to wrap the bottom in chicken wire to keep the rabbits out. Next we had to deal with the crows. Wire was strung across the garden from the bamboo uprights which then we attached three foot lengths of wire at intervals and attached pie pans at the ends. I've talked with the crows and have struck a deal, I don't mess with them and they don't mess with far, so good. Can't make deals with coons, so there's a perpetual war there.
Last week or so at supper, the wife was looking out the back door and started saying " Velvet ears! Velvet ears!" I grabbed the phone and took a shot.
Garden is in the background, corns high, pie pans are hanging and velvet ears was nibbling on some of my chestnut saplings.