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The Urban Orchard

Bob is a permaculture designer. His ebook, From My Table, is widely available,

Urban Orchard

Imagine stepping out into your backyard and picking yourself a fresh apple, or plum or pear. It is not a far stretch from imagining this scenario to being able to do it.

You will need an outdoor space that gets sufficient sunlight, for example apples require day long sunshine in order to prosper and produce fruit. That said you do not need a big space as many fruit trees thanks to recent small varieties can be readily grown in containers and will fit on a patio or even a balcony.

How many you place will depend upon the space available and your interest in growing your own fruit.

An urban orchard can be as small as two apple trees in your backyard or many more trees on a larger site where the growing conditions, sunlight and soil are suitable. Of course soil may be able to be amended.

Apple trees will do best when planted on a slightly south facing slope and need good air circulation, so do not bunch them too close together.

Light soil, definetly not clay, is important and the soil needs to drain well as apple trees do not appreciate wet feet and will perform accordingly. If the soil is right the land can be flat as long as the air circulation is good, this cuts down diseases, the trees will be off to a good start.

If the urban orchard is being established on a new site, soil tests are advisable. Test for pH, but also test for mineral content. What minerals the trees require will depend upon the trees.

Apple trees, for instance, need Nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and various lesser known minerals. Find out what is needed, test the soil and then amend if needed.

The urban orchard can be a small privately  owned lot  where the grower produces fruit for the family, it could the form a community orchard which would operate along the same pirncipels as a community garden does, but instead of each gardener have their own plot, they would either tend the whole lot and share the produce or each gardener could be responsible for a certain number of trees.

An urban orchard could also be a business that grows fresh fruit for the local market place and sells it for example, right from the site or through a nearby farmers’ market.

I am planning to have a minimum of two dwarf apple trees in the backyard, in the first year, and will add at least another two in the second. The produce will be shared with the local food bank.


Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 14, 2010:

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As a kid we picked apples on the wy home from school cutting through an orchard that is now a parking lot.

I have had crabapple jelly.

We have clay here as well.

Thank you all for dropping by.

Diane Ziomek from Alberta, Canada on February 14, 2010:

Nice Hub Bob! Always informative and an inspiration! It sounds like I will have to do some soil amending before I attempt apple trees, as we have clay soil here.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on February 14, 2010:

Believe it or not, I have a Crab-Apple Tree in my front yard and my wife collects them, pickles & spices them, and we eat them! I was a little weary at first, but they are actually pretty good! Great Hub!

David Russell on February 14, 2010:

Bob -- we pick tangerines, lemons and when they are in season, avocados. But as a kid in upstate NY, apples, blackberries, blue berries and strawberries were all much better than any we get in stores these days. Youn are envied. David Russsell

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on February 14, 2010:

You are welcome and thanks for dropping by.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 13, 2010:

Very interesting read and good tips. Thank you.

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