Please help! I'm in Auckland, NZ and I'm planning to turn some lawn into a productive food forest of sorts and would like to plant dwarf/semi-dwarf fruit trees as part of that. The space is roughly 15m x 8-9m (not quite square). It already has a fully grown grapefruit tree to one side of it (the drip-line is just on the edge of the space I'd like to cultivate). We get plenty of grapefruit from it, though it's starting to look a little yellow on one side. The soil is very heavy clay (soggy/marshy in winter, dry/cracked in summer) and has been covered in grass (including kikukyu) for a long, long time.
I can wait until next winter to plant the fruit trees, so that gives me almost a year to prepare the soil. I'm only renting my place, so I don't want to do anything too majorly invasive/costly. I was thinking about using chickens to clear & fertilise and then some kind of sheet mulch/cover crop/clay breaking soil improver. It will have to look relatively neat to appease my more conservative neighbours (the land has 6 flats on it and is communally owned). What would be your permies' advice?
Is it possible to plant fruit trees using a 'no-dig' approach? (Other than in containers, I mean!)
Will a deep sheet mulch left for almost a year help to improve the soil?
What about using alfalfa/daikon radishes/potatoes to break up the clay? Is it possible to do this amongst a sheet mulch?
Would it still be a good idea to dig in the broken down sheet mulch before planting the trees next winter?