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nafex - [NAFEX] more on nft's in the orchard, mulch plants and standard rootstocks

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  • From: sam bucus <>
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  • Subject: [NAFEX] more on nft's in the orchard, mulch plants and standard rootstocks
  • Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 00:46:07 -0700 (PDT)

hello, wow, i really enjoyed reading everyones responses about my question regarding nft's and mulch within an orchard system.  i will post again regarding the matter once i have made some changes, but have a few initial opinions here and am eager to hear others responses. 
it seems like Eleagnus spp. would be better off in a silvopasture system where the leaves can contribute no matter where they blow and the tree itself (and its sprouts) can be eaten for fodder by the sheep.  i think maybe sea buckthorn and siberian pea shrubs may be best in the orchard.  coppiced when they get too high. 
the comfrey mulch issue is challenging.  there were a variety of responses.  i am maybe going to guess that those in warmer areas can develop a comfrey problem and those of us in colder areas may not have it as bad? maybe i am wrong.  i know its hard to get rid of and i have worked with it alot.  i havent heard of roots 6 feet deep and 15 feet wide, but i know its vigorous, to put it lightly.  but in northern wisconsin it doesnt seem to spread so readily.  maybe it is a cultivar issue, but a neighbor of mine has a comfrey plant in an abandoned garden.  it grows every summer without help, but doesnt spread.  we will see.  i will always apply compost, but the idea of having a living mulch so close to the trees seems too good to pass up.  and if i am cutting it regularly, maybe even three or four times a season for mulch, wont that take a lot of energy out of root growth and put it to leaf growth, which is what i want anyway, and should help reduce its ability to spread? 
does anyone know the names of more containable cultivars of comfrey and where to get them or read about them? 
my next question is that of standards or semi-dwarfs.  i seem to like st. lawrence nurseries out of potsdam, ny the best.  they are truelly cold hardy stock and have a great selection of plants.  especially for the fruit trees.  they use anotonovka root stocks to produce a 12-15 foot standard tree on their apples if left unpruned.  at 35 foot spacing.  i like the idea of bigger trees with longer lives and feel this may combat some of the issues with nft's invading fruit tree space and comfrey getting too close or spreading to the tree.  thats 35 feet trunk to trunk to put mulch plants in, and maybe a bit more if i plant nft's between rows. quite a bit of space, or so it seems.  any opinions on standard size trees for pears and apples, and plums?  i know they are a bit harder to prune and spray with kaolin and pick, etc. but the orchard will be small, 1 or 11/2 acres, taken care of by me.  so it may be a bit more manageable than a large acreage that would neccesitate smaller, more accesible trees. anyone have any opinions on whether standard size trees would be better with a nft/mulch integration?
thanks again for all the stimulating ideas and discussion.  i really appreciate it.

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