Ideas for a Coastal Southern California Orchard

Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)September 20, 2012

We have a Santa Barbara west facing gentle hillside lot.

My dad was a long time gardener, consulted-sold-developed etc. He was always ruler of the lot and was constantly finding a square of light and filling it with a fruit tree. As he aged and then passed, the orchard had become past overgrown and mom and I have spent the past 5 years cleaning it up, trying to figure out what we had and what was both healthy and tasty.

We are now replanting for a bigger variety, we used to sell to markets and at a farmers market so we might have had a dozen of the same tree, all standards.

I have already added a variety of citrus to complement the mature orange orchard we already had plus a few apples.

But, I would LOVE some ideas and input on your favorite fruit trees. What rootstocks you like or hate and why.

I can get trees from nurseries that use LE Cook, Dave Wilson and plan on driving up to Trees of Antiquity and Bay Laurel Co.

Because both mom and I are not getting any younger, I am also looking for trees that either are naturally shorter (under 12') or can be maintained at about that height happily. Flowers are a plus, but we plan on eating/canning the fruit, so that is number one.

I am not interested in Kiwi, Zapote, Guavas, Bananas etc. We either have them, or have removed them or they just do not hold well enough to use the space for them.

We have a large veggie garden that is in the center of the orchard, so I am looking to surround the garden, they can get some additional water while being established, but this is SoCal so droughts can be an issue.

I also have several multi trunk volunteer peach trees that I plan on grafting too as well.

Any thoughts?

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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)

My aunt lives in Long Beach, CA and she had many fruit trees: Fuyu persimmon, Wonderful pomergranate, Dragon fruit, Logan, tangerine, grapefruit, jujube, avocado, figs, and cherimoya.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 3:04PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Thanks Tony

Even after clearing most, we have plenty of Fuyu, Giant Fuyu and hachiya persimmons. The chocolate and coffee cake ones look interesting, but only to graft.

We have two types of poms, our epiphyllums make their own dragon fruit, a big variety of citrus, figs, berries etc.

I am looking at the stone fruit that I would like to change to a variety to lengthen the season. And not have massive trees.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 9:10PM
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How about Pluots and Apriums?They should grow well there.Dave Wilson Nursery has videos on their site about growing them at your desired size. Brady

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:26AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Thanks Brady

They are on the list, we have been taste testing at the farmers markets.

Some are on Citation, Marianne or Myrobalan any idea if one is better than the other? I know they control size, but the nursery also says to summer prune for smaller.

The peaches I am looking at are on nemaguard and the apples on m111

was hoping to get some input on who preferred what and why

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 2:14AM
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Almonds, figs, apricots are the first thing I think of. They do well in dry climates. I bet you could grow acai berries if you gave them enough water as well. I also didnt see you mention any grafted vinifera grapes either.

Pretty much anything for a mediterranean climate will do good there. You may also want to try dates possibly (yeah, large trees, but just a thought). You may also want to plant some nitrogen fixing trees to provide some slight shade, and pump some nitrogen into the soil as well (can help cut down on fertiizer)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:20AM
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Santa Barbara on a slope facing west - life is good! :)

I'm in a hot inland valley, so my results may vary a bit from your situation.

I have a young and productive Flavor Grenade Pluot on Myro 29c that is doing really well with full west exposure. Myro 29c has good vigor and drought tolerance for me, and FG Pluot is a sweet and crunchy winner. Citation is less vigorous and drought tolerant for me, but Dapple Dandy & Flavor King Pluots are must haves and are doing well. If I had it to do over again I would have bought all plums and pluots on Myro. Burgundy plum is a big winner, and a great pollinator.

Arctic Star Nectarine is another winner for me, as are Babcock and Desert Gold peaches.

Fuji and Pink Lady on M111 have been outstanding - good vigor and great fruit. These are my two favorite apples.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 1:27PM
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I have a big jim loquat tree that I am very happy with. It gets a little taller than tha twelve feet you desire. It can be pruned heavily, is drought tolerant. The fruit doesnt have a long shelf life, that is why we cant buy them at the store. They flower in dec. And fruit about 90 days later.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 3:31AM
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alan haigh

As far as reducing tree size, of course, you can do a lot with summer pruning, but you also need to be aware of the vigor of the scion and match that with the rootstock. For instance, nectarines are usually much less vigorous than peaches and even within a species there is quite a bit of variability of vigor.

The growers at the larger green markets in CA tend to be very sophisticated and up to date so your attempt to use them for info is wise. However your climate is pretty unusual and much different than further inland or even further up the coast. Chill hours are an important issue as I assume you are frost free. Maybe someone in the Home Orchard Society whose been experimenting for many years in a similar location would have useful information.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:26AM
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