Planning and Planting the Small Orchard Block

Photo: Jim Clark

Registration Information

Pre-registration for the course is required. The course carries extension credit from UCSC Extension and has a $200 fee. REGISTER FOR THIS COURSE

Scholarship Information

The scholarship deadline (originally February 1) has been extended. APPLY NOW FOR A SCHOLARSHIP

Course Schedule

  • Thursday, February 23rd, 5:30-7:00pm — Online introductory webinar
  • Saturday, February 25th, 9:00am -12:00 pm — UCSC Farm; 1:00-4:00pm — Alan Chadwick Garden
  • Sunday, February 26th, 9:00 am-12pm —Fifth Crow Farm

Course Overview

This new short course will offer a wealth of information from orchard expert, Orin Martin, long-time manager of the Alan Chadwick Garden and instructor at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology. The course will walk participants through the planning and planting of a new apple orchard block at the UCSC Farm, from site selection and soil preparation to sourcing and planting quality trees (in quality holes). At the UCSC Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden, participants will look at orchard blocks of different ages and varieties for lessons on seasonal care, pest/disease/weed management, and winter pruning. At Fifth Crow Farm, participants will visit an orchard block Martin helped plant with the Fifth Crow farmers 15 years ago and hear from the farmers about the orchard’s growth, maintenance, and production for their diversified organic farm with direct markets around the Bay Area. The course includes an introductory webinar online along with a set of videos on soil preparation for the orchard block, planting, winter pruning, summer pruning, and more.

The course will have an emphasis on growing apples, but will also cover pears and stone fruit. Key considerations, concepts, and skills covered will include:

  • Site selection - flat ground or sloping ground, aspect (direction of slope)
  • Sunlight (>6-8 hr/day)
  • Climate and weather (microclimate too)
  • Soil (assessment and improvement)
  • Fertility plan
  • Scale and types of fruit to be grown
  • Orchard layout
  • Rootstock selection (size control)
  • Sourcing quality trees
  • Pollination factors
  • Irrigation
  • Weed management
  • Pruning and training
  • Pests/disease
  • Planting and seasonal care

This is a course for anyone, novice to intermediate-level grower, wanting to learn more about the 'hows (skills and techniques) and whys (a little of the relevant science behind the hows (in bite-sized, digestible morsels)' of deciduous fruit tree growing.

About the Instructor

Orin Martin is the author of Fruit Trees for Every Garden: An Organic Approach to Growing Apples, Peaches, Plums, Citrus and More (2020 American Horticultural Society Book Award Winner). Since 1977, he has taught classes, lectures, and workshops to thousands of home gardeners, apprentices, students, and budding farmers.

About Fifth Crow Farm

Fifth Crow Farm, a diversified organic farm founded in 2008, is located in Pescadero about 35 miles north of Santa Cruz. The three farmer/owners—Teresa Kurtak, Michael Irving, and John Vars—and a committed team of farm staff manage 30 acres of row crops, a 24-variety apple orchard, a young pear orchard, and a pastured egg operation, marketing through a CSA and farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, as well as to restaurants. For information about their farm and orchard operation, visit their website.

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