As gardeners, many are already aware of the benefits of successive planting strategies. Planting a row of beets, carrots, peas, etc. every two weeks during planting season allows for you to harvest continually as long as the weather allows. But did you know that same concept can be applied when planting fruit trees?
For instance if you like peaches and have decided to plant a peach tree in your yard, why not plant a series of trees that produce at different times, allowing for longer periods of harvesting? This gives you an extended bounty of organic, local fruit from the closest possible source – your own backyard.
I love organic peaches, and nothing says summer like a fresh peach still warm from the afternoon sun, ripe and juicy, they’re fantastic. But with a typical peach tree there’s an intensive couple of weeks where hundreds of peaches are suddenly ripe and ready to be processed or eaten. The massive canning and freezing undertaking can get tiresome and make even the stoutest gardener think about resenting the sudden influx of delicious fruit.
The solution for my small backyard was to plant three peach trees close together (about three feet apart) in a triangular shape in one roundish hole approximately 8 feet in diameter. The three peach trees are:
- May Pride – A yellow freestone peach that ripens toward the end of May
- Mid Pride – Also a yellow freestone peach that ripens late June/early July
- August Pride – Another yellow freestone peach that ripens mid-August
Planting these three trees means that I essentially have fresh peaches, ready for the pickin’ from late May through early September, depending on the weather and other natural factors. For example, instead of 75 pounds of peaches all at once, I have 25 pounds of peaches at three intervals throughout the year.
All of the trees are grafted on the same rootstock so the roots intermingle and grow happily entwined with one another. The trees are also pruned yearly to keep their size to a manageable six to seven feet in height, essentially the size of a large shrub, and the three trees take up no more room than one large tree. Keeping the trees small in size means that there will never be unreachable fruit in high branches unable to be harvested.
In addition to the successive fruit that the trees produce, their blossoms are also staggered. So instead of a couple of weeks of lovely pink flowers from one tree, we get almost a month of flowering as one tree sets fruit and drops its blossoms, the next one is beginning to flower. And peaches are just one fruit that work well with this strategy, consider applying the same thought process to apples, citrus, and pears.
There are some other great articles here on permanent agriculture, such as Permaculture: Perennial Vegetables Save Gardening Time and Energy, or Apple Varieties for Warm Climates.