Episode-833- David Consolvo on Establishing and Growing a Survival Orchard

Trees Can Produce for Decades or Even Centuries

Photo Credit to London Permaculture via Flickr

Note – At times there is a lot of distortion on David’s end in this interview.  I never head it during the recording.  It isn’t constant please excuse the few occurrences as the content of the show is exceptional.

David Consolvo has been growing his orchard in Virgina for over 23 years now.  He originally began planting his orchard in a quest for better health and nutrition.   Over the years he has found it to help his health both physical and mental in other ways simply by the joy of working in it, watching his trees grow and having the security of food close at hand.

Over the years Dave has also become a prepper and is a long time listener of our show.  He has a root cellar he calls a “fruit cellar” and has integrated his ability to produce food into his emergency planning.

Join David and I Today as We Discuss…

  • What are some common beginner mistakes in planting an orchard
  • What are some of the best varieties to keep dependence on inputs low
  • Which fruits grow best in which climates
  • How can you have your own fresh fruits year round
  • How can you self propagate trees/bushes/vines
  • What nut varieties get into the earliest production
  • What “exotic varieties” have done well in the US so far
  • Uses for trimmings and prunings from your trees
  • Combating disease, insects and deer

Additional Resources for Today’s Show

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28 Responses to Episode-833- David Consolvo on Establishing and Growing a Survival Orchard

  1. Raymond "Shorty" Butler

    28 June Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Day http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=43284
    Why reinvent the wheel?

    Shorty

  2. Jack, thanks for this show, you are awesome. I suggested it last week, and am amazed at how fast you put it together. Even if you were already planning it, thank you. If you ever find yourself in the San Joaquin Valley, I’ll buy you a beer!

  3. Perfect! This is exactly what I need as I was planning an orchard to be planted this spring! Thanks!!

    Sylvan

  4. Thanks Jack! Good stuff as always.

    @Raymond: Just a hunch, but maybe Oklahoma didn’t have any State laws regarding gun ownership rights? By declaring it at the State level I think it prevents the Federal Government from one day altering Oklahoma residence’s 2nd Amendment rights. Goodness knows the feds are trying.

  5. Jack,

    I was hopeful that you guys would go into more depth regarding pruning. We’ve been at our homestead for more than 2 years, and there are fruit trees here, but the property was so badly neglected before we got it we don’t know if the fruit trees can be saved. Might you guys have any resources there? We were considering calling our local extension office to see if they can help.

    • I’ve pruined various citrus trees for over 10 years, so maybe I can help.

      First of all, you want to open up the tree so that air can pass through the branches. This will help keep fungal problems down.

      Also, you obviously want to cut off all broken or dead branches.

      Any branches that have right or 90 degree angles from the larger branch should also be pruined. Same with branches that cross over eachother and are rubbing into eachother.

      Take your time and stop every now and then so you do not go crazy and pruin too much.

      Do not pruin more than 1/3rd of the tree to prevent shock.

      Check with your county extrension agent, but I do believe that any deciduous fruit tree, like an apple tree, can be pruined when in the dormant stage. In fact, it’s preferable.

      HJope this helps.

  6. jack
    i’ve noticed a bit of distortion when people talk on the last few interview shows only when the guest talks but i thought it was maybe my cheap mp3. anyway, great show! i love every one of them and you help me get through work every night. keep up the great work!

  7. For Second Amendment Day- Flash mob picnic dinner or breakfast to appreciate and celebrate the Revolutionary Era minutemen.

  8. Jack and David,
    Thanks for a really good show. I would like to see you do a follow up show on pruning as well. Thanks to Gene for answering the earlier post about pruning.

    This past year I thought a lot about Jack’s suggestion of planting more fruit trees rather than just plain ornamental trees. I live in a cookie cutter neighborhood in central Ohio and the only tree we had was a very ugly crab apple that didn’t blossom much. So I planted four semi-dwarf apple trees, all of different varieties with two in the front yard and two in the back yard. All were about 5′-6′ tall when I planted them last year. I have read and heard that when they are this height, if you properly prune them then you can get at least some fruit in 2-4 years. But, much of the advise one pruning really varies greatly based on who you talk to. Anyone know of a good resource that I could purchase or a website that you would recommend for learning to prune these kind of trees?

    Also, love the idea of a 2nd Ammendment day Jack and would participate myself. Since Oklahoma already has a set day, I think we should use the same day. There would definitely be support for it here in Ohio.

  9. Great Show as always! I’m in Texas and I’ve bought some trees from Legg Creek Farms, which is located in southern Texas, they provide trees with low chill hours.

    Jessie
    Mesquite, TX

  10. Great show today, Jack! I’m in the process of building up my stock of fruit trees for my 1.3 acre homestead, and this episode definitely ranks up there with helping me to do so.

    One piece of information I found particularly useful was the conversation you had regarding paw-paws. I’m planning to plant a few of them this year, and Raintree’s catalog says that they should be in partial shade, as they are ideally an understory tree. But you and David pointed out that in the full sun they’ll start producing earlier and more prolifically. Maybe this is one of those instances where I have to do both, and see which one works better over time….

    Thanks again for the great information and show!

    • Paw paws require fairly heavy shade for 1-2 years after they come up or are transplanted. After that, even though a natural understory tree, they do better in full sun.

      Also, the paw paw is not pollinated by bees but rather flies and beetles that feed on carrion thus the coloration and smell of their flowers which are the color and (some say) the smell of rotten meat. The flies and beetles are “lazy” pollinators. If you want to achieve a heavy fruit set, you will likely need to hand pollinate. As paw paws aren’t self-fertile, you will need to plant two or more different cultivars or interplant some unnamed seedlings.

  11. Great show as usual!

    BTW anyone else see this article regarding state currency?

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/states-consider-alternative-currencies-gold-100700922.html

  12. Matthew from Gooseneck

    I was about to place an order from Ty Ty “nursery”. Well I did call them. Some rude guy told me to “wait” them hung up! I quickly googled them. There are a lot of complaints out there about these people. I looked on Georgia Better Business Bureau’s website to. So ya’ll do your research. I just wanted to get that out there.

  13. Modern Survival

    @Matthew, and with that they come off my list! Will remove them from the show notes now. Thank you.

  14. CharlieFoxtrot

    Chris: I’ve been trying to grow Pawpaws here in my little piece of Appalachia (zone 6). I’ve planted four trees and the two that were in full sun didn’t make it through the summer. The other two which I planted in part shade are doing fine. I’m going to plant two more this spring.

  15. Chinquapins are one of the trees that I am planting extensively as both part of a food forest as well as interplanted specimens in black walnut and Dunstan chestnut orchards. The chinquapin is supposedly both precocious and very productive. Unlike most mast producing trees, it bears heavily every year and the taste is reputedly superior to all of the other chestnuts.

    Also, blight resistant American chestnuts can be had. Check out The American Chestnut Foundation and The American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation.

  16. Thanks for the great discussion. Lee Reich writes good stuff about the less common, low-input fruits, with an eye for the more tasty varieties: http://leereich.com/

  17. Thanks for the great show. Have been trying to grow goji berries. Would make a great show talking about the health benefits.

  18. David Consolvo

    Pawpaws:

    They are definitely worth the difficulty and slowness getting them started. They are the ONLY fruit of 25+ species I grow which I can feel satisfied making a meal only of them. They are so good that I will eat them until my stomach hurts from distension. That said, about a third of people do not care for the flavor.

    Pawpaw pollination is definitely different; the carrion fly theory is common, but I’m not so sure it’s figured out. I recommend planting at least several different types.

    Pawpaws CAN be grown from seed, but the seed cannot dry out! Store from the fall in a cool, slightly moist place, or simply in the ground where you want them. They might not germinate until JULY of the following summer.

  19. David Consolvo

    Pruning:

    There are a lot of youtube videos available now demonstrating pruning, to help get you started.

    Dormant pruning is common. The strength of the tree is then in the roots, so you’re not sapping energy by pruning.

    However, I find that some types NEED their strength sapped. Apples on non-dwarfing roots, and mulberries for example, will benefit from heavy summer pruning to keep them from getting way too big.

    In general, cut vertical branches and leave horizontal branches. Vertical branches hardly fruit at all, and just grow the tree out of your reach.

  20. David Consolvo

    Sources of info:

    Yes, Lee Reich is a wonderful source of information on unusual fruits. He’s written at least a couple of books, and you can take his information as very reliable.

    Consider joining NAFEX, the North American Fruit Explorers, a mix of newbies and experts and everybody in between. Check them out at nafex.org.

  21. What we were told about our Paw Paws when we got them and toured the nursery was that one of the big parts of it being an understory tree was that it needed wind protection.

    We planted ours under some large large mature trees, but thinking about it, we may go back and plant some more out in the orchard surrounded at least from the wind side with shade cloth or some other wind break.

  22. Another berry that might be of interest to people looking for quick berries are wonderberries: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/wonderberry.htm They don’t really taste like much off the plant, but apparently they can be used to make jams and stuff.

    I think I got a mislabeled pack of herb seeds this year with wonderberry instead. I got some going in a container, thought it was a bizarre and disappointing version of whatever herb it was supposed to be and then noticed the berries. It must be a prolific plant here in zone 5 because I started seeing wonderberry plants popping up all over my yard. I’d guess that the birds liked them and spread them around. Could be a good guerrilla gardening plant or maybe one to grow as living mulch around a bigger plant in a container.

  23. I died and turned to a skeleton before my pecans trees began to bear fruit.

  24. I was hoping to hear some discussion on dwarf/semi-dwarf/standard size distinctions and what the guest recommended. I’ve been leaning toward semi-dwarfs because I hear dwarf trees have a significantly shorter lifespan.
    Here in Missouri I was able to order tree bundles from the state that were geared toward food production. Five each of ten varieties for $25. PawPaws, Mulberry, Blackberry, Currants, Black Chokeberry, Persimmon, Service Berry, Elderberry and more. I ordered two bundles as well as another bundle of something else to start a food forest that way on the cheap. I’ve heard some like to plant their Paw Paws with a pillow case over them to shade them more until other trees grow up to help them.

  25. David Consolvo

    Dwarf trees defiinitely don’t live as long. They’re dwarf because they have weak roots. That means they need more care too, such as irrigation, weeding, and even being tied to stakes to prevent them being blown over. Plus they have a hard time getting over deer-browsing height. On the plus side they produce fruit much earlier.