in the beginning, fruit trees

we have fruit bushes for the birds along the northern edge. we have empty space out back (on the other side of the drainage ditch) which is in danger of being overrun by poplars and honeysuckles. i'll have a few year window yet to head that off.
in recent readings on permaculture i really enjoyed seeing Sepp Holzer's methods of growing fruit trees as he doesn't do sprays, pruning or baby his trees. often to reforest an area he'll include in his seed mix (besides veggy seeds) seeds from stone fruits, apples, etc.
as an inexpensive way to get started with fruit trees in an area out back it was enough inspiration so that we're going to work on it (may take a few years to get going).
to get the fruit tree bugs and predators established i thought it would be also a good thing to start seedlings even if there aren't any sure hopes of getting edible fruits, perhaps most of them will be inedible or bait for deer. being persistent as i am will pay off eventually.
the problem is the whole area is clay and can be fairly wet at times. any seeds/trees will have to adapt to that.
if i can gradually get the whole back area converted to mixed fruit trees and the understory supporting plants over the course of the next 20-30 years that will be some fun.
having some grafting root stock to work with will be a side benefit. green apples can be a source of pectin. fruit woods are nice to work with for furniture or as a source of aromatic woods for grilling.
the questions are: from seeds, time to actual production for: apples, cherries, peaches, apricots and pears?
i would guess for most stone fruits three to five years. apples and pears, no idea at all...
songbird
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Time to fruit is usually rootstock dependent. Also depends on light levels (how open, how much other tree shade.) If you are starting from seeds, you have no idea what you are going to get (on average, about a 1/30,000 chance of something with commercial potential - which further translates into "that humans would like to eat") and thus not much idea how long it will take for any particular specimen, as they will all be different. If you don't provide at least a few years of deer protection, "never" may be a good bet, depending on local deer pressure.
On the other hand, you'll automatically get "adapted to clay soil" if you plant seeds - the strong will survive and the weak will perish. You can graft later if you want people food, or better cider types, or whatever.
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Ecnerwal wrote:

the east and part of the S/SE will likely be taken over by poplars, the north will be the existing tree line. otherwise they should have unobstructed sunlight the rest of the day.
being protected from the north wind is probably a good thing and Holzer repeats in his works that protection from morning sun is a good thing if the plants may be frosted.

i've seen that number quoted for apples. i haven't studied the others at all yet, but will get into it the next few years.

they'll likely be protected by piles of brush or other materials and likely some other veggies planted that may distract. also, if it works out that i have time then i'll fence. if i do end up later getting trees from known sources or get into grafting from known sources then i'll fence those specimens. we have significant deer pressure (thus 7ft fence for the veggie gardens i rely upon).

*nods*
once i get the area figured out for drainage (there's some existing flows and drainage tubes) i'll likely reshape some of the area to give the plants a little space above the flood stages.
this won't be a short term project. more likely it will be for the families that come after, but that doesn't bother me nearly as much as it would to let poplars take over and turn the area into a monocultural wasteland. the south & eastern area land owner might be willing to work along in some manner. we'll see what happens.
songbird
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songbird wrote:

The problem with this is that you don't get to choose your rootstock nor the fruiting characteristics. These are the reason why nearly all fruit trees are grafted.

Yes but only if you give them a fighting chance. Do NOT plant them in holes, as these will become ponds and the trees will die.

If you know how to do grafting then at least start with a bud that is of known good fruiting ability.

4-5 years
D
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

...

yes, but then you also get known disease vulnerabilities too.
as a low cost method of learning and working with an area that i'd not like to be turned into poplar trees it gives me incentives to get out there and work on that area within the next few years.
until reading his books i was kinda disheartened by what would happen to that area and not too willing to put a lot of money into it. efforts here and there ok, but not much money. so to take a second look at the situation and to start pondering and planning, it's a bit of hope for quite a bit of space.
...

for sure, once i get a better idea of the existing drainage then i'll likely trench and slope areas so the trees/seedlings have a chance of some dry periods, but they will never be short of ground water. there's the large pond behind this area and the nearly constantly flowing ditches that run through the property.
...

in time i may get to that.

thanks,
songbird
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You should be able to find a wholesale nursery, and find out what rootstock they use. They may even be able to tell you the fruiting characteristics, and tell you where they sell them.

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Billy wrote: ...

buying grafted trees or root stock would be like taking out a loan to buy alfalfa to feed the deer (deer fast food? :) ).
songbird
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When you settle on fruit wood, you still may want an appropriate root stock.
<http://www.davewilson.com/product-information-general/rootstock Fruit & Nut Tree Rootstocks
<http://www.davewilson.com/product-information-general/rootstock/apple
Apple Rootstocks Note: rootstock descriptions are for reference only. Dave Wilson Nursery does not offer rootstock for sale. Domestic Apple
Most rugged rootstock for apples. Vigorous, deep-rooted, cold-hardy. Tolerates wet soil, dry soil, poor soil. Unpruned tree height of standard varieties 18' to 30 feet. Trees on apple seedling may be held to any desired height by summer pruning. M-111
Excellent all-around rootstock for apples. Induces early and heavy bearing. Tolerates wet soil, dry soil, poor soil. Resists woolly apple aphids and collar rot. Trees dwarfed to 85 % of standard. M-27
Extremely dwarfing rootstock for apples. Trees dwarfed to 6-8 ft, ideal for high density planting, small spaces in garden. Induces early and heavy bearing. Small root system, young trees may need staking. Good for container growing. M-7 & M-7A
Dwarfs to 65% of standard. Induces early and heavy bearing. Resistant to fireblight, powdery mildew, moderately resistant to collar rot. Good anchorage. Very winter hardy, widely adapted. Disadvantage: prone to suckering. M-9
Advantages: dwarfs trees to 40 to 45% of seedling size, increases fruit size, may slightly advance maturity. Disadvantages: susceptible to fireblight and wooly apple aphid, trees must be supported, shallow root system may be drought sensitive. Mark
Trees dwarfed to half of standard size. Resists fireblight and phytophthora root rot. Well anchored, no staking required. Few or no suckers. Trees bear so heavily that thinning is essential to control stress on tree. Requires fertile soil, constant moisture. Not presently used by Dave Wilson Nursery. BUD-9
Dwarfing to 1/3 of Standard. Approximate height to 10', width to 6'. Resistant to Phytopthera. Excellent precocity & cold hardiness. Good for container growing.
Cherry Rootstocks Peach, Plum & Hybrid Rootstocks Pear Rootstocks
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At a guess, I'd say we've had ours grown from seed produce fruit between 4-6 years old.

2-3 years, but these have all been the sort of floosey flowering peaches that put on a stunnign floral display in Spring. The side benefit of these peaches (which are supposeldy not for eating) has been that the ghastly green looking small peaches they produce are very edible and with a superbly flavoured white flesh.
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Farm1 wrote:

thanks! :) nice to have a good surprise like that. the fun part of this project will be to see what happens from various sources. i'm hoping my peach connection turns out well this year and we get a few buckets of peaches to harvest and process. they also said they'll likely have pears... August is gonna be crazy if all the tomatoes come in and we get this fruit besides...
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wrote:

Had a good illustration today of the benefits of odd-colored fruit. I'm a sweet cherry addict living on the hairy edge of ability to grow the things. Had some fruit this year - red tree picked clean by marauders (presumably winged) but the yellow tree was largely untouched.
Songbird, you might also want to put some nut trees in your thinking cap. Then again, those often just end up being squirrel food, even if you try to make them not be.
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Ecnerwal wrote: ...

:) i think the birds/critters will figure it out eventually.

there are oak trees along the northern edge for acorns. the squirrels stay mostly over there. which is as desired. they rarely come into the yard where the hawks can get them.
i may wedge a few nut trees in eventually, but the main idea is to add fruit trees as those are much easier to process.
songbird
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songbird wrote:
...
overall lot size 200x400ft.
the empty area to the right (E) of the ditch is where the fruit trees would go. we have to leave some space that can be driven over on the right side along the ditch so we cannot use the entire area.
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/Way_Up.jpg
this picture was probably taken at least four years ago so some things have changed since then, but not that area other than sprouting many honeysuckles and the poplars creeping in from the east.
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