Friday, May 8, 2015

African Yams/Fruit Tree Pollarding/Mini-Orchard Idea

I get some mileage out of my junk mail:

That's an idea I had for an intercropped orchard that came to me when I was considering the relative merits of pollarding trees.

For those that aren't familiar with the term, to "pollard" a tree means to prune it back to a certain height/number of branches year after year. This is sometimes done to create biomass or "tree straw" that can be cut and fed to grazing animals; it's also done to maintain trees at a low height.

You'll see this done with crepe myrtle trees in the south.

In my idea, useful trees for fruit and mulch could be kept small and used as supports for climbing African yams (true yams), allowing a goodly amount of food to be created in a small space, along with mulch and perhaps fodder for rabbits or other livestock.

The trick would be to choose species that will actually produce fruit under pollarded conditions. I'm not sure if most fruit trees will. Guavas fruit on new wood, as do mulberries; peaches, cherries and other fruits may have to be handled differently and pruned at proper times rather than simply lopped off in winter.

There's always room for experimentation.

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At May 8, 2015 at 4:30 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

I love this idea! I did something similar last season growing luffa gourds up a useless tulip poplar. The only problem was the luffas at the very top were out of reach of even our tallest ladder but not out of reach of the birds, who ate holes in them and ruined them. Growing yams wouldn't have this problem. Hmmmmm.

At May 8, 2015 at 5:18 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Luffas can really run. I should try those as well. I cut a young sweet gum tree at 7' this winter and am growing yams up it. So far, so good. I'll post pictures at some point.

At May 9, 2015 at 11:13 AM , Blogger Cristy said...

If you are interested in aggressive pruning of fruit trees you might do a Google search about "Back yard Orchard Culture." I have been using their method of summer pruning and winter pruning to gain the productive peach tree I have. I prune it to the height and size I want, and prune any fruit that touches. Last year I got 71 pounds from this method and this year 61 pounds of larger peaches. I highly recommend it. It's been very successful for me.

At May 11, 2015 at 6:14 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

I am reading the Dave Wilson site right now. My major problem with all my fruit trees has been *too many* fruits of poor quality because I did not prune the trees properly. Thank you for this tip.

At May 14, 2015 at 7:56 AM , Blogger Cristy said...

Last year I got 71 pounds of peaches using this method, but they were small. I went back to the information and went over it again. This year, following their advice, I aggressively pruned the fruits as they were forming. I ended up with 61 pounds of fruit that looked as beautiful as any you'd buy at a peach farm. I am really happy with the method.


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