Apple and pear and nut trees – oh my!

It’s finally time to start planting a few of the hardier plants outside! Jason has already been hard at work in our backfield. Since we are trying to be as sustainable as possible with our farming techniques, Jason created swales for where he planted the fruit trees.


Swales are often used in permaculture farming. They are basically a ditch or trench that is dug along the contour lines of the land. The dirt that is removed from the ditch is left as a sort of raised bank beside it. See below:


You then plant on the top of the raised bank. The ditch will catch and retain rainwater much more effectively than just flat ground, and since you plant on the raised bank, the plants will benefit from the water in the ditch without being drowned every time it rains. We also reseeded the swales (both the ditch and the raised bank portions), so that we avoid soil erosion.


Once he dug the swales, Jason then planted about 76 trees. Mostly we’re going for apple trees, but we do have a few pear and various nut trees as well. We’ll end up planting some cherry trees and several fruit bushes down the road.

As you can see from the above picture, we’ve had to deer-proof many of the trees. Once we fence in the area, our dog will do the majority of the work to keep the deer out, but for now, these cages and some deer repellent should do the trick. (And it seems to be working since we haven’t seen any deer in the field at all after applying the deer repellent!)


Though it will be several years before we’ll see the fruits of Jason’s labor, it’s good to know that we’ve at least gotten the orchard portion of our farm started.


Next up – annual veggies!

Jennifer Jelliff-Russell

About Jennifer Jelliff-Russell

Jennifer is an employment specialist and writer with novels in women’s fiction and science fiction. She and her husband, Jason, decided to move from Tennessee to Maine and homestead using the most environmentally sound farming practices possible such as organic farming and permaculture. At the same time, they will also be slowly renovating their 1900s Maine farmhouse in order to make it more self-sufficient with the eventual goal of going off grid. Let the homesteading (mis)adventures begin!