Orchard Shelter Belt

Posted by Nick  | 31 Aug 2015  | 0 comments

Our main project this winter has been the creation of an orchard. This has involved a mind-melting amount of organising/researching/planning. We want to experiment with (read indulge in) more than just the typical fruit varieties, so we made sure to plan a few years in advance. That includes factoring the eventual sizes and micro-climate requirements of fifty-plus fruit trees. (More on that in a future post.)

The first part of the plan was to plant a shelter belt along the southern and western boundaries of the orchard area. Safeguarding our orchard from the ravages of those prevalent winds!

We usually buy our native plants locally, but we wanted to include some exotic deciduous trees in the shelter belt, so we ordered online from a nursery in the South Island, of all places. Can’t beat a comprehensive user-friendly e-commerce website! Here’s our shipment arriving of around two hundred trees, which also included our specimens:

It was early on a Saturday morning and we were still in bed when they came knocking. Char whipped on some clothes and headed out to direct the truck through the gate while I stood naked, shooting discreetly from the bedroom window.

These babies were at the depot a few days longer than expected, so we were a little anxious about their condition, especially the bare-rooted varieties, which require immediate planting.

From a quick inspection and smile by Char, they seem like they’re all in healthy order.

Believe it or not, that’s about two hundred plants right there. They pack ’em in tight!

Our first task was to lay them all out, according to this rough-and-ready plan we’d sketched:

First we started with the southern shelter before moving to the western. No photos were taken during this time because, well, it was pissing down! The whole first day saw us kitted out in our full rain-wear, positioning and planting in the relentless drizzle, and being hit by what felt like a violent and unexpected hurricane! This happened to coincide with New Zealand being hit by, yes, an actual hurricane. It only lasted ten minutes, but around the country it caused quite a bit of damage. We are far enough south that by the time it struck our neck of the woods it had weakened. The second day of planting, however, had glorious weather:

Waves of larger exotic trees were framed by bushy components of various sizes.

After last year’s endless mowing of the previous bush strip we’d planted, I wasn’t about to make the same mistake with this lot. As you can see, I’ve killed the grass where we intended to plant – hopefully giving me a head-start on the spring growth.

From a distance and being saplings, the trees don’t look all that diverse at the moment…

…but when they’re mature we’ll see the likes of alders and beeches towering above dense layers of pittosporum and pseudopanax, titoki and griselinia.

Alongside the tall beech and alder we have cedar and fir, and then a step down in height we have some gum, wattle, tupelo, and laurel.

Amidst the bushy components you’ll also find other natives like manuka and mingimingi.

Yay, southern shelter complete:

And the western:

Those standards being framed by the newly planted shelter belts, seen above, mark the positions of our orchard trees.

As dusk settled on our second day of planting, I finished up by spraying them with a frost protection solution while Char fertilised the remainder.

We’re going to fence these shelter belts with post-and-rail, hopefully before spring. That way, if all goes to plan, the sheep can graze the orchard grass and the saplings will be protected.

As of this post our orchard trees have also been planted, so stay tuned for the complete picture!


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