Orchards are an old cultural asset, but they are becoming increasingly rare. To our detriment: The villagers can no longer get fresh fruit on the edge of the village, the townspeople no longer come home from the country party with new experiences and delicious harvests, a handful of a few thousand apple varieties are still available in the supermarket, while many old varieties from Are threatened with extinction. Here you can find out how to create a meadow orchard and whether there is funding for it.

Planning the orchard – is there any funding?

First of all, there is a little planning to be done, for example you should plan enough free time to be able to enjoy the whole company of “planting a meadow orchard” without rushing it. You need time to choose the right area, at least if you don’t want the orchard to be on your doorstep – with the right planning, these will simply be a couple of wonderful excursions in the area.

You should also deal with the regular expenditure of time when planning in advance, because an orchard meadow needs some care so that the fruit trees produce a satisfactory yield. It is best to create a preliminary maintenance plan after selecting the varieties, which gives you an initial overview of the time required. The pruning of the trees will probably take most of the time, then regular controls are required (game browsing, tree care, pest search), possibly irrigation and further design (e.g. attaching nest boxes), and the good time of the harvest must of course be taken into account.

Then you should find out beforehand whether you can get funding for the planting of your orchard, as is the case in many federal states. Funding can even come from several pots, here the regulations in Bavaria as an example:

  • A new orchard meadow can be funded according to the landscape management and nature park guidelines of Bavaria, up to 70% costs for material and trees
  • Existing orchards are funded by the Bavarian Contract Nature Conservation Program if the operator refrains from liming bark and pesticides and does not remove dead wood. Information is available here from the Office for Food, Agriculture and Forestry of the respective administrative district.
  • Then there is a cultural landscape program that may also support orchards; information is available from the Bavarian State Ministry.
  • The Bavarian State Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Forests has launched the “More green through rural development” campaign in Bavaria, and if you are lucky, 100% of the costs of creating a new orchard will be covered.

That was just an example of the diversity of the funding, you can quickly find out the funding opportunities for your federal state on the Internet. Or you just go to your local environmental agency or nature conservation agency, they will certainly be happy to help you.

When you have the planning behind you, the creation of a planting plan is much easier, the planting of the orchard begins with the search for the right location in its first phase. That’s what matters:

Location and size of the orchard meadow

A meadow orchard will develop well if you pay attention to a deep, humus-rich and well-ventilated soil, and to a sheltered and sunny location. The soil can be loamy, and the fruit trees can be planted on a slight slope.

A meadow with orchards can be created very well on grassland, but you can also plant fruit trees along a dirt road or even a small road (on the road, however, you must keep a minimum distance of 3 meters from the edge of the road).

If you would like to see endangered species such as the common redstart or singing stars such as the red-backed shrike on your orchard meadow, the meadow should be at least 3 hectares in size (for non-farmers: 30,000 square meters, e.g. 250 x 120 meters). However, every area that is planted with fruit trees offers valuable new living space; even smaller areas offer wild animals a new home and make the landscape a little more attractive.

The trees are now distributed over the area in the planting plan: plums, sour cherries and most of the wild fruit trees at a distance of at least eight meters; Apples, pears and walnuts should be at least 15 meters away from the nearest tree. You can plant the trees in a row, but then please with variable spacing, otherwise one tree could shade the next or take away the water. Of course, the trees can also simply be scattered on the surface, certainly the more attractive version if you want to bring “a little more nature” into your surroundings with your orchard meadow.

The fruit trees will probably not feel as comfortable on areas with very dry sandy soils or very heavy, compacted and permanently moist soils, and shady hollows and windy altitudes are also not very suitable. However, if you only have such areas available, the disadvantages of the location can be compensated a little by choosing certain types of fruit trees or fruit, see below:

The fruit trees on the orchard meadow

Basically: In any case, apples, and never just one type of fruit tree in just one type of fruit, the most colorful orchard meadow is the ecologically most valuable (and tastiest) orchard. These combinations are ideal:

  • If possible, 60 to 80 percent apple trees because they grow almost everywhere and are particularly useful for many animals.
  • A typical orchard meadow is supplemented with other fruit, preferably also with some wild fruit trees, the following varieties with the following special features are available:
  • The first wild fruit to be recommended is the crab apple, tree of the year 2013 and original apple, just as frugal as its descendants.
  • Like apples, plums grow almost everywhere, even on moist soils (inquire about notifiable shrimp disease, only tolerant / resistant varieties may be planted in affected regions).
  • Pears thrive in warm locations, but should not be chosen near cities because of the risk of grating (can hardly be combated in orchards).
  • The wild form is the wooden pear, which, in addition to high ecological benefits, provides healing teas and (in many years) extremely valuable wood.
  • Cherries can compensate for location disadvantages because they also tolerate poor limestone soils and cool altitudes, but cannot cope with waterlogging.
  • Quinces are only suitable for warm locations, as they are particularly sensitive to frost in autumn, they do not like waterlogging and should not be planted in regions with fire blight.
  • Walnuts also only like warm locations because they are sensitive to late frosts.
  • The service trees, which are threatened with extinction, feel at home almost everywhere, even in dry conditions, they just don’t like wet locations. Interesting tree with multiple uses.
  • Service berries are also threatened and also exciting, they like sun and warmth and rather dry soils, the fruits can be used when cooked.

The selection of fruits and the nursery

The harvest of old and rare types of fruit is of course the real gain that the orchard brings you. The selection of the desired varieties is the actual core element when planning an orchard, and you should plan a lot of time here, because you will be amazed at how many varieties you can choose from here: From the 4,500 German apple varieties that were once used Plant around 2,000 varieties in your orchard today! Plums, pears, cherries, walnuts, and quinces are by no means offered in just one variety, and you can even choose from several varieties for service trees and service berries.

The selection should first be narrowed down with a view to the site conditions, then you can determine harvest time and length by selecting and combining the varieties. Above all, you can choose fruits that are eaten fresh or fruits that make good juice. The most fruit varieties are usually easier to care for than varieties for fresh consumption. If you now define the number and fertility of pollen and the flowering time, and find out whether there are certain regional varieties that are worth preserving in your region, then you have covered all the essential selection criteria.

You can find extensive fruit variety data on the Internet with old fruit varieties, which are made available by nature conservation associations or fruit growing centers, such as the NABU’s orchard database (www.streuobstapfel.de) or the fruit variety sheets from Noah’s Ark, for download at www. arche-noah.at/etomite/index.php. Your local environmental / nature conservation authority can certainly put you in touch with orchards and tree nurseries that sell old types of fruit.

Instructions for creating the orchard meadow

When all these preparations and preparatory work are done, it is finally time to plant the trees. Here is your work plan, briefly presented in individual points:

  1. The right time to plant trees is autumn, with moderate temperatures, so you should order your fruit trees accordingly. In autumn the earth is not yet frozen, but it is nice and moist, and the trees have all winter to grow. You would only have to note that the bare-root trees do not want to be transported in temperatures below 0 or in heat above 20 degrees. If necessary, you can store the trees briefly after collection / delivery in a shady, cool place (think about watering!).
  2. When the trees are “ready to hand”, you can prepare to plant them. For each tree you need a (natural) tethering post that is long enough to end below the base of the crown.
  3. Mark the planting distances and the arrangement of the trees on the property with wooden pegs as you entered them in the planting plan.
  4. Dig out the planting holes with a shovel and strong muscles or with a tractor with auger and front loader. The spade must also be close at hand when using a tractor, because you use it to dig out the grass sod, which is then set aside. You can find out how to do this in the instructions for digging planting holes.
  5. Then the tie-up post is set on the side where most of the wind hits, and a vole basket is attached if necessary. If you want to enclose the whole tree with a protective fence (for example, in grazed meadows), you will need to put three or four stakes.
  6. You can now plant the fruit trees: The tree roots are prepared for planting, the tree is planted and fertilized for the first time as soon as it is planted. The planting hole is filled, creating a pouring edge, and slurried with a bucket of water.
  7. The grass sods are put back on, right upside down on the trunk to push back the grass growth, outside with the right side up. They are trodden down and watered.
  8. The tree can now be attached to the support post with a belt or a coconut rope, which should be by its side for the next five years.
  9. If this has not already been done in the nursery, the crown must now be provided with a plant cut.
  10. Further devices to protect the trees may now be completed: The gate to protect against grazing cattle will be completed if the orchard meadow is to be used as pasture, the wire covering to protect against game bites is attached if the property is not fenced.
  11. You can prevent the development of an excessive mouse population, which the newly created fruit paradise uses to raise astonishing numbers of young mice, by installing a few perches for birds of prey.
  12. You can prevent insect infestation by creating a bird protection hedge close to the orchard – the birds simply eat the pests before they can get to your fruit. If there is no space for a hedge, the installation of nest boxes and insect hotels (pollinators!) Is an alternative.
  13. The point of whether you can / may fence a meadow orchards rightly hits the “unlucky number” 13: Of course, you are generally allowed to fence your property, but not necessarily a meadow orchard, at least not if you get funding to have. In the majority of the subsidies, the conditions stipulate that the orchard meadow is open to the public, and if there is suddenly a fence, you might be able to repay subsidies …

A meadow orchard is an absolute asset: for you, for the attractiveness of your place of residence, for the regional fauna. If you need even more arguments, just think how much more beautiful our entire monotonous agriculture could be with many flowery orchards … If you want to get your children to help plant the meadow, you probably only need to tell them that bats like to eat and nest on orchards – so there is Twilight live here.

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