[permaculture] spindle cut orchards

jedd jedd at progsoc.org
Wed Jun 6 09:52:02 EDT 2007

On Wed, 6 Jun 2007, paul wheaton wrote:
> I will cage tomatoes.  I think that with my help, the tomatoe can be a
> healthier plant.

 Regrettably we can not consult with the tomato to see if it
 prefers to sprawl along the ground (as mine like to do) or
 be controlled in a cage / led up a stake / kept short & bushy.

 Happily I don't really care what its natural preference is, as
 I do not lose sleep over dictating the form I prefer for it.  Its
 fitness (in a vaguely Darwinian sense, as defined by my
 requirements) is improved by my actions.

> 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.

 Maybe in different climates to yours.  David has some apple
 trees (from memory) grafted together, as a grazing border, but
 the photos I saw included a short fence in front of same (but I'm
 guessing that was a short term fence, until the inter-twingled
 fruiting trees were strong enough to repel grazers).  I'd imagine
 that it'd be part of a rotation scheme - you provide animal access
 only during late autumn and winter, and maybe after fruit harvest.

 I think there's a conflict between straight lines (considered to
 be the preference of modern agriculture) and curves (perhaps seen
 as the domain of the permaculturists).  Straight lines have a bad
 rap, which is perhaps undeserved -- there are occasions where it
 is simply much easier to grow things in a straight line, such as
 the requirement for trellising.  You can extend your edge effect
 at ground level, if that's what you want to do in that part of your

 As you say, you may have seen badly chosen dwarfing rootstock,
 as my understanding of the M9 / M27 stuff (at least) was that it
 was savagely dwarfing -- consequently requiring more care (water,
 etc) but relatively small amounts of pruning.  If each tree takes
 10 minutes of pruning once a year, this seems a reasonable payback
 as far as time & effort goes.

> >  Did nature intend carrots to grow anywhere other than the
> >  middle east?
> Yes.  Thanks to the birds.

 Now I can't get a sparrow & coconut story out of my head.

> > Oranges and bananas to grow sans seeds?
> I'm guessing that this is possible due to the mighty bee.

 I suspect we are talking at cross purposes -- no bees used:

 [1] Navel oranges are an example of nature's imperfection (by almost
 any definition).

 [2]  Seedless bananas are similarly convenient, but wouldn't stand
 a chance in the wild.

 I really like navel oranges and bananas and would decline the
 offer to give them up simply because nature can't propagate* them
 by itself.

> 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.

 I suspect that your problem is not so much with the dwarfing,
 pruning, espaliering aspects of the approach, but the lack of
 biodiversity in the particular orchard that you've seen.  This
 could easily be countered by engineering a comparable trellising
 system (the ones I've seen just need stakes, rather than a strained
 wire style trellis) and doing lots of companion planting in and
 amongst the trees.  In this case, it's probably best to consider the
 tree as just a variety of apple, rather than a particular style of
 farming in and of itself.

 If it helps, in several years I'll be able to show you some photos
 of how I've integrated such trees into my design.  ;)


 [1]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navel_orange#Navel_orange
 [2]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana#Cultivation

 * Okay, perhaps with the banana it can, up to a point.  Cavendish
 will likely disappear in the next few decades .. maybe surviving a
 tad longer in places like Australia that are geographically isolated.

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