The orchard is potentially the largest producer of food on site, but is also very multi-functional.
Before the orchards even produce fruit, they will have already contributed to the beautification of PEG and increased the bird and insect habitat.
The fruit that the orchard produces will
provide food for people living on site and will generate revenue when sold in PEG’s
restaurants, as value added products
produced at PEG or in offsite venues like farmer’s markets. Throughout these revenue streams, the orchards will support the development of multiple enterprises while offering a beautiful example of how local people can be growing a large amount of food with a relatively low maintenance requirement.
Additional and important benefits of these orchard’s productivity is that they will sequester carbon (contributing to the fight against manmade climate change), and reduce Bajan dependence on imported food that is transported by fossil fuel burning ships. To a lesser extent, these orchards will produce a certain amount of recyclable organic matter that can be used as feed for pigs, material for compost or as woody matter to be chipped and mulched.
The selection of which fruit species to grow is a very multi-faceted one that should be thought about from a number of angles with the team that plans to manage the orchards.
Easy access for pruning,
picking and mowing.
Fruit trees organized in such a way
as to be easily managed.
The right amount of diversity for
health, but not so much as to make
the management of the trees
and harvest a challenge.
Close to contour planting so as to slow water, sink it in and reduce erosion caused by vehicles and other maintenance activities.
Diversity of species to include
fruits harvestable all year long.
Line of Trees
Line of Trees
Line of Trees
This pattern is designed for the slight slope
(0% - 10%) that is characteristic of most of PEG’s landscape.
In this pattern main access paths exist between every row of trees, so that a vehicle can get between the rows during harvesting times.
Using the available surveying equipment (water level, transit level, or laser level), approximate a general contour line through the area.
Choose the “right” contour line which will express
a general sense of contour over the whole area
to be planted.
TGI will help with an understanding of this
when on site
Offset the rows to maintain an equal
distance between the rows.
If the fruit trees were not
planted the first year:
When the rainy season returns,
chop and drop the mid-term legumes in
a 3-foot diameter around where the
fruit tree will be planted
Plant the fruit tree SEE PATTERN HERE
Add compost to the surface
Mulch with the dropped leaves
and branches of the legumes.
Mark with a color marker stake.
Cut back support species as needed.
"Once the fruit trees have started establishing themselves and showing good vigor, make sure they have all the sunlight and space they want."
"Cut the support species back to the ground and use them as mulch"
The manager of the orchard
needs to know much more about
keeping a successful orchard than
what we can include in this manual.
" Make sure she is reading up, taking
classes, watching videos and getting
the mentorship from seasoned
orchardists as needed."
With that being said, here are some tips:
The variety of fruit tree is of the utmost importance to a successful, productive and profitable orchard operation.
Great care needs to be taken to select varieties that thrive in the environment, and that will produce a fruit that is desired by the available market.
The poor selection of varieties could cost an orchard up to 80% of its potential profit.
Young orchards need regular applications
of organic fertilizer, compost, water, biodynamic preparations and compost tea spraying.
Irrigation is recommended for any young orchard and will greatly help with establishment and reduce the amount of losses.
Pruning should be carried out in young orchards to improve tree structure, minimize wind damage and increase fruit bearing area.
Each species has its own optimum pruning strategy. Be sure to be on top of this. Most tropical fruit trees should have their first structural pruning by the second or third year.
It is important to establish a good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program as young trees are susceptible to many different pests.
Healthy soil is critical to healthy plants. Regular applications of compost tea, biodynamic preparations, and compost are very important. Adding mycorrhizal fungi to your orchard’s soil will benefit your plants’ productivity. Planting instruction
Keep your grasses and weeds cut back,
and mark your trees with a tall painted stake.
It is important that grasses and weeds
are being kept low through good and
It is easy for a young fruit tree to get ‘lost’ in tall grasses, and then potentially cut down when the grass is cut.
5-acre Guava farm in Southern California
The average annual costs for production in a guava orchard in Southern California for the first four years of management was $8,500 per year and thereafter is around $11,500 per acre per year (not counting marketing and sales costs) and average gross sales (wholesale to a distributor) are around $28,000 per year. These numbers are for year 4 and beyond, when the fruit trees have started producing close to capacity.
"Those numbers assume a small family farm, so no management costs are included, as the profits from the operation would be collected
by the farmers."
Supplemental watering during the first few years will assist tree establishment greatly.
"The timing and quantity of water applied varies with tree size, soil, weather and time of year."
The following offers a rough guide:
Trees should be irrigated one to two times a week in heavy clay soils like those at PEG.
"Because of the geology of the soil at this particular piece of land, plan on irrigating the trees for their lifetimes. Most orchards do not need this, but the extremely thin layer of topsoil over karst geology means that even deepreaching roots are not able to reach the water table."
Mulching around trees can assist water conservation, particularly in the absence of irrigation, and the continual buildup of organic matter in these thin soils will improve their water holding capacity.