[permaculture] spindle cut orchards

paul wheaton paul at richsoil.com
Fri Jun 1 13:31:20 EDT 2007

Anybody familiar with these?

I was asked to go to an orchard yesterday and give some advice.

Apparently, this approach is considered to be one of the most
productive apple monocultures possible.  With about 30% to 40% more
productivity than central leader trees.

I thought it was scary.

The stuff I found through google said that the pruning was less and
easier since everything was kept so short.  My impression was that the
pruning would have to be more because you would have to keep
everytthing so short!

I thought I would find something that said "this is not sustainable",
but after an hour of googling, I could only find stuff that said it
was great stuff.

Apparently, a lot of the apple industry is moving in this direction.

Essentially, this stuff looks like apple hedges grown north/south so
that the sun can get on all the leaves.  The branches are kept short -
2.5 feet long in the rows, 4 feet long between the rows, but only at
the bottom.  The trees are prevented from getting taller than ten
feet.  I think they are shooting for a hedge that is has a sort of
christmas tree shape.  But not cones - more like the whole hedge is
wide at the bottom and narrow at the top, with a 12 inch gap between

It sounds like they use dwarfing stock, but the orchard I saw had
trunks that were five to six inches thick.  These trees wanted to be
15 to 20 feet tall and were only 10 years old.

The woman didn't like any of my advice.  The only thing that she might
consider is to replace the grass growing between the trees with
alfalfa (perennial legume with deep taproot).   I think mostly because
she has heard of alfalfa and she could still mow it if she wanted to.

So I got to thinking about what I would do if I owned the property.
Would I kill 90% of these trees so I could introduce some diversity?
Would I go with this odd hedge idea and just let them go taller than
ten feet - and just plant diversity between the rows?

Maybe I'm just ignorant about this approach and should embrace it?

Anybody familiar with it?

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