The Conversion

Cardboard is laid down to suppress the existing vegetation.  The centre is left clear to receive a mulch of pea gravel.  The idea is to keep vegetation back from the tree so that mice and voles have no nesting material near the tree.

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Then fertility is added – grass clippings.

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Or semi-decomposed plant matter.

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Or straw.

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The layer of fertility has been covered with ramial wood chips. The tree in the bottom right foreground has an inner ring of pea gravel.  This reflects a full month of hard work by Charles the Woofer.  It was an immense amount of work and we are deeply appreciative of what Charles did for us.

The strip of brown on the right side of the picture is for a willow bed.

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We could sense that Charles wanted to christen his work with plants so a dozen left over strawberry plants were the first.

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We’ve begun to add plants that we’ve dug up and subdivided from our herb garden or “weeds” from other parts of our garden.  We’re keeping a log of what gets transplanted into the orchard.

More pictures.

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5 Responses to The Conversion

  1. alexlipinsky says:

    Great ideas, and beautiful looking orchard. Is the pea gravel effective at keeping critters out?

    • MikeH says:

      Good question, Alex. I’m not sure that it keeps them out as much as it deprives them of cover and nesting material. It’s not a particularly safe place for them. And we saw no signs of burrowing into it. We use spiral tree guards as a precaution in the winter until the trees are large enough that it’s highly unlikely that they will be entirely girdled. And we use Skoot on the branchs to deter the rabbits and deer. The tree guards come off in the spring because they seem to act as a caterpillar hotel in the summer.


      • alexlipinsky says:

        Thanks for the info. I’ll look into spiral tree guards when I plant fruit trees in the next few years.


      • Lenka Zlenka says:

        I had a bad experience using perforated plastic tree guards. The goal was to protect trunks from winter damage by mice and rabbits. The next summer I noticed moisture accumulation and a variety of insects multiplying between the plastic and the trunk (including trunk borers). Some varieties of trees (peach, apricot) had mold that started to eat into trunks. I removed all my guards. Rainy and humid weather in Chicago that summer may be to blame. It may be worth double-checking the tree guards from time to time.

      • MikeH says:

        Yes, we find the same thing. We store them in place by tying them to the T-rail support.


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