Notes From The Basic Orchard Management Workshop with Derek Craig 25.2.12

Derek covered a lot of material during the workshop he led in February. Pamela Gill, Community Co-ordinator for Project Twin Streams Glen Eden, took notes during the workshop. She was unable to cover everything so please feel free to add to the notes below via the comments section. Hopefully this will open up some discussion and comments and help to gather more information to share with our fellow Ooooby people.


Pam’s Notes from Derek Craig’s Orchard Workshop – 25/2/12
at Lucinda Community Orchard


Please note these were quick notes that I made on the day, I thought they could be a good addition to your notes.  Please feel free to share your tips that I didn’t quite get down .


General notes:

Ideally in terms of planning your orchard you would plan for as much fruit all year around.

Derek recommends Kay Baxter’s Design Your Own Orchard book.

In the Auckland climate because of our high rainfall, either drain water away or plan to mound up soil around  fruit trees when planting.

Mulch is a fantastic friend to an orchard in terms of moisture retention, weed control and eventually providing nutrients as it breaks down.  Get mulch and ideally compost it before using.

Herbal lei is a green mulch but you still have to water the herbal lei as well.

50% of a trees energy is required  for roots.

The average width of tree roots is 1½ - 2 times the height of the tree so if you have any tall ornamental trees around, bear in mind they will be utilising nutrients required for your fruit trees if their roots are near your fruit trees.

For the first couple of years fruit trees will require babysitting and even more so if large trees are nearby.

The imperative for growing fruit trees is – will it grow, will it fruit, is it commercially grown?

Bees are important for the pollinating of fruit trees.  As we have lost so many of our wild bees (up to 80% of this population in recent times), then having bee hives situated nearby would be extremely beneficial.

In terms of staking, a couple of stakes either side of the new tree tied using webbing is ideal (or any other pliable/stretchy material that is unlikely to damage the tree).  Ensuring there is enough room for the tree to move a little (not rigid).

Lime is a friend for releasing the nutrients from clay.  Derek suggests 5 trailor loads of lime on a quarter acre section.  Remember this would be for an entire section!  What I think he was trying to suggest is that quite a lot is required.

Expect a 25% increase in fruit if you feed your fruit trees and a 25% increase if you water your fruit trees however expect a 70% increase in fruit if you water and feed.

Try to keep a garden diary using soft pencil.  Write down the location of fruit tree and photograph it, writing down what variety it is.  Often plant tags don’t last or memories are lost...


Ideally prune fruit trees post harvest when there is less chance of bugs getting in. Remove dead branches, diseased branches and crossing branches as well as cicada damaged branches.  Vertical growth of branches is for growing of vegetation however horizontal is best for fruiting (ideally at a 90 degree angle).  You can use milk bottles filled with x to weigh down branches (ensuring it’s not too weighty in that you break them).  Plums don’t like to be trained.

Generally for the first 4 years don’t prune fruit trees.  

Don’t prune in the rain or if rain is forecast.  Branches will heal better in dry weather however will be more susceptible to fungal diseases if cut in the rain.

Use meths on a rag to clean tools between each tree.  This is really important.  Given you expend so much energy on looking after your plants; you don’t want to waste it all by spreading disease needlessly.

Derek recommends 3 cuts when pruning weighty branches.  The first further up the branch  to take the weight off, the second cutting on the underside of your branch to about a quarter of the thickness of the branch and the third cut from the top of the branch cutting right through.  This will ensure a clean cut and prevent the branch from tearing.  Don’t leave a stub on the trunk.

Fruit Trees

For apples, buys ones that use M27 root stock to ensure that your fruit tree does not grow larger than 2 metres as in suburban gardens this is an ideal height for collecting apples.  You need to give new apple trees extra nurturing as the root stock is not as strong.  Ensure you stake and feed regularly.  

Apple trees - remove oldest branches every 6 years.  

Avocado require an a and b tree.  You can get these trees from Avopro.

Lemon tree borer is active in Sept – Dec.

Orion peaches come out in December.

Subtropicals don’t like wet feet but do need water in summer.

Feijos love our climate.  Feijos are a bush so best to open it out, not pruned like a hedge so either grows as a hedge for aesthetics or grow  as a bush for fruit.

Black passionfruit are the best tasting.  They need drainage, north facing.  Build up the soil.  



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