The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Mapping fruit trees

Change of plans

For the vegetable garden, I keep most of my data on a spreadsheet, which makes it easy to deal with variety changes.  It's much tougher to grid off trees and berries into permanently named regions, though, so I end up keeping variety locations on paper maps like the one above (with other data like source and planting date on a spreadsheet).  Paper maps are all good and well at first, but when trees die and new ones are planted, the maps start to get confusing.  Plus, I have a tendency to draw new maps but leave the old ones in the binder, so I often don't know which page is the most up to date.

Berry patch map

Planting a red currantI decided to take an hour on a snowy morning to get my notes in order so I knew what was where.  First stop was the blueberry patch, which is getting extra beds and species this winter.  In case you're reading the map above carefully, the mulberries have tiny little zones because I plan to keep them small via coppicing, using the leaves for silkworms.  The honeyberries, Siberian pea shrub, and mulberries haven't actually arrived yet, but should be here any day now, and the currants went in the ground Friday.

Tree map

And here's a zoomed-out map showing current tree locations, a printed copy of which will form the base for the next few years' annotations.  There's not much room for more perennials, but I hope to fill in the few gaps and then add trees into a new location or two --- perhaps the hill above the pig pasture, the shady zone north of the barn, or the equally shady valley south of the well.  Hopefully by the time I need to make the next revised map, all of the oldest trees will be in full fruit.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Thanks for the inspiration and the validation! I have five new fruit trees (pear/apple/cherry)waiting for this late March snow to melt and go in the ground. I spent a dry cold January with the 100' tape measure and a pad of graph paper observing, plotting, thinking and finally desciding. Thanks to you those paper plans can go into the digital Orchird Diary Log in fine fashion, searchable and easily updatable.

Comment by Kenny Fri Mar 29 09:39:25 2013
Might I suggest that every time you draw a map or change it, that you put the date or dates in the case of changes, at the bottom so that you know which is the latest?
Comment by Sheila Fri Mar 29 22:16:56 2013
Sheila --- Excellent point! I should have mentioned that the files on my computer are named with the date. (For example "20130329trees.jpg.) And when I print them out, I have started putting the date on, but only recently!
Comment by anna Sat Mar 30 07:38:16 2013
I use Google Earth as a records manager for the farm. First I used to put in the boundaries. I record my herbicidal wanderings (killing Japanese barberry and multiflora rose) with a hand held GPS, and record perennial plantings by hand. ´╗┐That way I can click on or off various overlays, print full sized maps or just use the program online to plan my next project
Comment by Jason Mon Feb 2 05:38:53 2015

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