Why Have an Orchard?
One of our readers, Paul Guy of Chico, offered us the following thoughts.
To me, the main reasons to have a home orchard are…
- The advantage of having tree-ripened fruit in your own yard. (It’s not possible to get ripe peaches, for example, in the supermarket.)
- The ability to grow the tastiest varieties, many of which are not available in the supermarkets because they are not grown by commercial growers.
- The freedom to select varieties that will give fruit many months out of the year.
The following is an excerpt from A Guide to Home Orcharding for the Sierra Nevada Foothills, by Garth E. Veerkamp.
Why have a backyard or home orchard? The obvious reason is home food production with the hobby and exercise experience that come with it. Fruit trees, their form, fruit, bark, and foliage, may also serve an aesthetic or decorative role in the home setting. Sometimes trees are simply nostalgic, sparking memories from childhood or past.
For whatever reason the home orchard is a popular endeavor. Some are successes while others fail. When the decision to create a home orchard is based on little more than desire to plant a few trees and anticipate fruit, then failure is the probable outcome. When a home orchard is based on an understanding that it is, in fact, a living expression of genetics interacting with soils, weather, tree spacing, pests, and many other factors, then the outcome should be one of success.
The human factor in orcharding can also make or break success. This is the inward examination that asks...
- Do I really have the desire, time and stamina to establish and maintain the orchard?
- To what extent will the demands affect my relationships with others around me?
- Do I understand the cultural demands the orchard places on me and the yields to expect under good management?
- Can I accommodate, or, if not, balance the demands of tree care and harvest with my desire to not be tied down or to travel?
An acre of land can support 100 to 200 trees, more or less. With planning, a succession of fruits will ripen from early to late season – 10 to 20 tons per acre, more or less. “What will I do with the harvest?”
The more we understand these factors and what demands trees place in our lives, the greater both our personal successes and our ability to help others with home orcharding efforts. It is rewarding to grow fruit trees!
The Home Orchard Book