I wanted an orchard. I loved the idea of the kids being able to pick their own fruit for lunch and having picnics beneath the fruit trees. So we chose an area that received sun but when the fruit trees grew they wouldn’t be blocking any light to the house. This was to the left of the drive as you drove up.
My parents bought us some great trees from a nursery in Kumeu. We chose 3 Avocado trees. With these 3 we would have avos nearly all year round. I knew they were frost tender but had the frost cloth at the ready. Unfortunately in the Waikato we get some impressive frosts and a very early May frost our first year took my wee avocado trees out.
I discovered that plants that weren’t typically frost tender in town, for some reason, were frost tender at our place. I had all sorts of plants die on me, whether it was the complete lack of shelter, the wind or the high water table, I’m not sure, but one day my dad visited and he looked out the backyard and his comment was “all I see is death”.
I think he was referring to the Protea that had received way too much water over the winter, or the Warratah that Tim had bought me for my birthday. This died after it was smothered by 100’s of poppy wildflowers growing up around it and surpassing it in every way.
(I had bought a packet of wildflower seeds and sprinkled them on my newly mulched backyard border. Due to the fantastic organic mulch, EVERY seed took and I had over 20m long, nearly 1m high of poppy’s and coneflowers. When flowering they were stunning but before they flowered I had 20 x 1m of foliage that looked like weeds but I couldn’t be sure…so I left it and in the meantime they killed my Warratah.)
Back to the orchard, I think I planted 14 trees initially. My advice to you is this: Always plant them further apart than you think. Picture them full grown, or at the size you will let them grow (there’s no point having too big a tree that you can’t reach the fruit) then add another couple of metres between plants. And consider how far from your neighbours fence line they will get.
We eventually fenced the orchard with post and rail fencing and it looked fantastic, but our earlier fencing attempts were less than ideal. The first fence was wire netting being held up with bamboo posts. This was temporary to say the least. I never realised how impressive grass growth can be. It hid my fruit trees, it hid my hedging and tried to hide the wire fence!
You can see in the photo that while the fruit trees were planted, not all can be seen as we still had to weed eat the grass, then high mow, then low mow before we could regularly mow. This was quite a large space and was growing back awfully fast! Took us a while to get orchard under control.
One thing to say about having a crappy first option, is that you really love and appreciate the second, better option big time.