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

Spacing trees by limiting nutrient

Fruit tree spacingAs I've been learning more about roots, I've started wondering --- does that mean we should be spacing our trees differently?  The official spacing recommendations you find in most books or on extension service websites are based on the width of the trees' crowns.  But if roots extend out 2.25 times as wide as the crown, on average, won't the trees be competing underground?

My Edible Forest Gardens book gave a good suggestion.  They recommend deciding which resource will be the most limiting for your plants and choosing spacing based on that.  For example, if you live in a dry climate, have sandy soil, and don't irrigate, you probably should be spacing your trees based on the extent of the roots since water will be the limiting resource.  On the other hand, if you have plenty of water but are on the north side of a hill, chances are that light will be the limiting resource and you'll need to space based on crown diameter (which tends to be the official recommendation.)  If nutrients are the most limiting resource on your site, you should probably go back to roots to determine your spacing.

In our garden, water isn't a problem (except when there's too much of it) and we add nutrients.  So I guess we can stick to the official tree spacing recommendations for now.

Water won't be a problem for you either once you build a homemade chicken waterer.

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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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