[permaculture] spindle cut orchards

paul wheaton paul at richsoil.com
Tue Jun 5 11:36:40 EDT 2007

> > I think the thing that creeps me out the most is that these trees do
> > not give me the sense of working with nature, but making nature your
> > bitch.
>  Paul, I think the problem here is a matter of degree.
>  If you stake your tomatoes (or even pinch out the top or side
>  shoots) are you treating that plant as your biatch, or does this
>  fall within the acceptable limits of what you can do to a plant?

I will cage tomatoes.  I think that with my help, the tomatoe can be a
healthier plant.

I will thin a forest so that a few trees will be healthy instead of
having lots of trees barely surviving.

The "spindle cut" trees I saw needed a lot of pruning every year.  It
was a monocrop.

Perhaps the spindle cut approach is something that can be part of
permaculture, and the implementation I saw was a terrible

Perhaps the rootstock I saw was not true dwarf - so it would need lots
of pruning.  With true dwarf, maybe it would need pruning just once
every few years.


> > My impression of permaculture is coming
> > up with systems where you can walk away and just come back for the
> > harvest each year.
>  This works well for systems based around perennials, but doesn't
>  scale so well with to vegetable garden (assuming you decide you
>  need one).  You can reduce the effort, but it's still going to be a
>  comparatively intensive operation.

I dunno - with space, the seed fling approach is mighty close.

>  Perhaps if you considered these trees as an annexe to the high-
>  intensive vege patch rather than the low-maintenance rambling
>  orchard, they'd sit better with you.


I'm trying to think of a case where I would want a hedge instead of a
tree.  I don't think apple makes for a very good zone 3/4 animal
barrier type hedge species.

As I'm designing properties in my head and trying to put this spindles
stuff in, I keep coming up with stuff where a regular shape tree fits

With an urban hedge, I would rather not create a barrier between
myself and my neighbor.  If there is something icky about them and I
do want a barrier, it would seem that fruit would annoy them and,
therefore, create strife.

There are areas of horticulture where it seems like folks do a huge
amount of work to optimize something.  And it strikes me that
permaculture is more about some trivial amount of work that leads to a
big bounty.   With the spindle cut systems, you need to prop up this
weak tree, and then when it gets some size, you have to prune about
30% per year!.  Without spindle, you can just plant the tree, without
props, and prune about 10% once every few years.

> > And are being shaped
> > to something that nature did not intend.
>  Did nature intend you to come along and cut your comfrey and
>  alfalfa down to the ground several times a year, shift it into a big
>  pile, mix it up with animal poo then scatter the results around your
>  garden?

I don't do that.

I do think that these plants are intended to be grazed.

>  Did nature intend carrots to grow anywhere other than the
>  middle east?

Yes.  Thanks to the birds.

> Oranges and bananas to grow sans seeds?

I'm guessing that this is possible due to the mighty bee.

>  I have a hard time with any anthropomorphism of nature, but this
>  is a particularly tenuous claim.

Well, I guess we are seeking our path to good permaculture practices.
It is these discussions that help us to understand and grow.  And I
guess that by saying "us", I should limit it to just "me".

>  I don't think I'm prepared to defend the unstated claim that what
>  this lass was doing 'is permaculture' .. but I will happily (as above)
>  point holes in any argument, coming from a permaculturist, that is
>  predicated on the 'we leave nature alone' myth.  This is absolutely
>  not what we do.

I'm not leaving nature alone.   I am shifting land to provide more
edibles for me and other people.

I do wish to work with nature instead of against nature.  I think that
this makes for more food per hour of labor.

This spindle cut stuff seems pretty damn smart if you like a monocrop
system.  I suppose the support systems for the young trees and the
pruning of the mature trees offsets ladder time in the future.

If you all are certain that this sort of thing fits into permaculture
then ... well ....  I guess I'm just a bit thick.

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