Creating Clayton and Lisa's Organic Orchard

In 2019 we designed and implemented an organic orchard for clients in Hoekwil, a small village in the Garden Route

Design process:

The first step of designing an edible landscape is to visualise a dream garden with our clients. This goal setting process allows for clear articulation and communication for our design.

We created the following goal with Clayton and Lisa:

“Our garden is a peaceful and calming space. It is natural yet organised and produces an abundance of crops for us and the environment.There is a diversity of fruits and vegetables and space for relaxation and contemplation. Maintenance can be completed in a few hours a week.”

Another part of the design process is to explore the client’s preferences in terms of varieties, colours and functions of plants in the landscape. We eventually settled on a beautifully list of fruit trees, understory medicinal and edible plants and indigenous plants for biodiversity.

We selected  thirty different varieties of plants including fruit trees, fruiting shrubs, medicinal and culinary herbs and indigenous legumes that will thrive in the Garden Route environment.

Our species list included Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Avocado, Mango, Pomegranate, Macadamias, blueberries, strawberries, and more.

Garden Establishment:

We always stick to ecological landscaping approaches where possible. A focus on plant diversity, soil health and appropriate design means we can reduce the need for chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Harnessing opportunities for making use of local site resources is also key for sustainable garden design. On this job we found a nearby supplier of well aged horse manure, and local woodchips to fast track soil production.

Monoculture lawn covered the site and we needed to convert portions of it to healthy planting pits for the trees. Luckily, we had time on our side with this job and could take a slower approach to creating ideal planting conditions.

We created large circles of horse manure covered in woodchips directly on the grass and left them for 3 months. The grass was starved of light and died, creating a soft and beautiful soil for tree planting. This saved the effort of digging up the grass and increased soil life, soil carbon and plant available nutrients through microbrial decomposition.

We then planted the trees in early spring into these circles and included ‘guilds’ of beneficial plants around a few trees. These trees demonstrated to Clayton and Lisa how they could increase diversity in their garden over time. Each tree received mycorrizal inoculum to increase fungal symbiosis, and a soil drench of kelpak liquid fertiliser to increase readily accessible micro and macro nutrients.

The intention with this project was to launch Clayton and Lisa on their organic gardening endeavors and we look forward to visiting again in the future.

An Apricot tree approximately 8 months after planting. A host of beneficial guild plants around it’s include yarrow, tulbaghia, sorrel and others.
A peach tree with yarrow planted around it’s base. As this tree matures, a greater diversity of supporting species should be planted around it.

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