Planning tree alleys

Tree alleys

My last post about tree alleys
lacked a big-picture photo to help readers understand what I was
talking about, so I figured you were due another post on the
topic.  Plus, Kayla and I did a lot more digging and ended up
putting in a second tree alley, so the design has changed
slightly.  Hopefully the diagram above will help you visualize what
the tree alleys will look like once they’re planted, with the thick
lines being apple trees, with coppiced black locusts sitting between the
fruit trees on the upper swale, and with hazels between the fruit trees
on the lower swale.  The locusts are already in place, and just
need to be cut so they don’t shade the apple trees, but everything else
will be planted in late winter.

Planting swales

Here I’m seeding rye on
the newly-dug swales to hold the soil over the winter.  Cardboard
is marking the tree spots so I don’t accidentally toss seeds there, and
to keep down weeds.  The cattle panels will eventually be about
where they’re at, but standing up instead of lying down, and there will
be another row of fencing on the upper side to close off this tree-alley
swale into its own paddock.

Pulling cattle panels out of the weeds

One thing we’ve learned
already from this project is — don’t leave your cattle panels lying on
the ground over the summer!  We thought we were going to build our
fences right away, so we just dropped the panels wherever last spring
Half the work involved in last week’s earth-moving consisted of prying
the panels up out of the honeysuckle and moving them to the side so we
could dig.

Hibernating box turtle

The other thing we
learned is — dig carefully!  This box turtle had already dug down
into the soil to hibernate, and she came up in a shovelful of
dirt.  Luckily, her hard shell protected her, so no box turtles
were harmed in the creation of this post.

The one problem I foresee
with our tree alleys is that the long, skinny pastures won’t be grazed
evenly.  Hopefully my trick of putting a
chicken waterer
at the far end of each pasture will prompt the chickens (and,
eventually, sheep and/or pigs?) to move away from the coop and hit the
far end of each alley.

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