So, last weekend we started building an orchard! You’ve gotta start somewhere, so we began planting our new fruit trees in the same section of the farm that’s already home to an older cherry and apple tree. It’s the part of the farm that receives the most direct south-facing sunlight and is close to the house without encroaching too much on the part of the yard that needs to stay a ‘yard’ for the kids and the farmyard volleyball players.
With the help of Julie’s dad (we’ll call him Captain) and brother Ben, we tested the ph level of the soil (which was pretty much exactly what we needed it to be – phew!), dug holes, added gravel for drainage, followed by a mix of compost and soil to create a rich, healthy home for our new trees.
We got three of our trees planted: our William’s Pride apple tree, our Fantasia nectarine tree and our Green Gage plum tree. According to the helpful Fruit Tree guide we picked up at Cedar Rim Nursery, we know the following about our orchard starters:
William’s Pride Apple: A dwarf apple tree that is dark red, disease resistant, slightly sweet, good fresh and cooking apple. It does not require a polinizer and has an early fruiting and blooming time.
Fantasia Nectarine: A semi-dwarf tree that produces bright yellow fruit with heavy red blush, vigorous and productive and certified virus free. It does not need a polinizer and has a late fruiting time.
Green Gage Plum: Also a dwarf tree that grows greenish yellow fruit with amber flesh. Sweet tasting. Also does not need a polinizer and has a mid fruiting time.
We also bought, but have not yet planted a Desert King Fig tree (yellowish-freen fruit with delectably sweet strawberry colored flesh, vigorous and reliable, grows 10-25′) and two female fuzzy green kiwi vines (we’re looking for a male to polinate them).
The Captain, who has done the whole sustainable farming thing himself, had some great advice for us. First of all, we were planning on surrounding the base of our trees with cedar woodchips and he warned us that cedar pulls nitrogen out of the soil which would negatively impact our trees (they need nitrogen!). He also suggested that we talk to local farmers to find out what kinds of fruit trees they’ve had success with in the area. As fun as it is to collect interesting fruit trees, if they don’t live and flourish well in our climate and soil, there’s not a lot of point in investing time and money and land space in them. Good point! We really would have been at a disadvantage if the Captain had not been there to help us get our fruit trees planted. Indication that we still have A LOT to learn! All part of the process – we learn as we go :)
Special thanks to the Captain and Ben for the help!
Okay, little fruit trees – grow, grow, grow!