When we moved into our new home on Christmas eve 2016, I had so many plans for the property. But, it was winter and I could only dream. We set the house nearly 200 feet back from the road and my vision was to plant fruit trees along that long stretch of driveway. I would call it “the orchard.” I just had to wait for Spring to arrive.
When the local Rural King farm store stole a section of their parking lot to erect their “nursery” for the season, my heart went pitter patter. Hardy annuals like pansies brightened the area. But, I was looking for trees! I wanted a few shade trees to occupy the large, flat front yard. I wanted a few ornamental shrubs to provide an initial stab at landscaping around the house. But, mostly I wanted fruit trees.
I knew that Rural King wasn’t going to offer a massive array of different varieties. They tend to stick to a few, popular options that will sell fast. All that really mattered to me was that they were hardy in our zone and that we acquired varieties that would provide cross pollination. Grab the tag, flip it over, read a few lines and make a decision. Put the ones we wanted on the cart, pay and load up the van. Let’s get this party started!
We initially purchased three apple and three pear trees for a penny under twenty bucks each. Robert planted three trees on the south side of the driveway and three on the north side. My orchard corridor was established!
In mid-summer of that year Robert arrived home with a couple of other fruit trees. “They were on sale for twelve bucks!” he proclaimed. Although their condition worried me (they had that Charlie Brown Christmas Tree appearance), we had to give them a shot at making it. We started a second row of trees on the south side of the drive! Here’s one of those “summer end sale” apple trees – not as substantial as the others:
The Spring of 2018 I ordered some bare-root trees from an on-line Nursery. The description of the peach trees stated they were winter hardy in my zone. I was suspicious. They arrived, we followed the instructions, they started off well, but faded and eventually didn’t appear to make it through the winter. Then, one of the trees sprouted leaves suspiciously close to the ground, which makes me wonder of the root below the graft survived, but it eventually died.
Earlier this year we added a couple of pear trees after one of our original trees snapped completely in half by a strange wind-sheer event (maybe mini-tornado.)
Again, we left that broken tree in the ground, and after a few weeks it shot up pear-tree-looking branches. I am suspecting, like I did about the peach tree, that the new growth may be from the roots below a graft location. We will cut back all of the sprouts but the one which appears to be the strongest. Then, hopefully, it will grow into a proper tree. If so, it will be interesting to see if it bears fruit, and if so what type!
This was the first year that I was able to negotiate the entire property after having two shoulder replacement surgeries last year. During my travels I found an apple tree we planted way back in 2002. It sits at the beginning of the corridor where I have photographed many birds during the season. It is rich with fruits and since they began to ripen, I have picked one each day during my ride around the farm. When I get to that area, I just put down the camera and have a little snack. It’s a great afternoon treat.
Last year we plucked about a half dozen apples off the trees in the new orchard. As it was just the second year, I was happy. This year, one tree in particular is adorned with a tree-full of fruit!
The tree next to it, a different variety, produced a few, very nice apples, as well.
Yesterday, Robert and I took a little jaunt around the property. We cleaned out nest boxes and picked apples. Here he’s picking the fruit off the old tree in the corridor.
He had to leave a bunch of fruit that he couldn’t reach. Here’s what we brought home, which is probably less than half that the tree produced. The rest will feed the wildlife like deer, raccoons and the bird species that enjoy fruit, like Bluebirds, Cedar waxwings and several others.
We picked the only four fruits from one of the trees in the front orchard, and I ate one on the spot.
Then, Robert picked about 2/3 of the apples on the other tree. I thought they may get even sweeter after a few more days on the tree.
Here is the harvest from the new orchard.
They aren’t grocery store quality in appearance. But, they are delicious, nutritious and have not been subjected to any chemicals.
I find it amazing that for a twenty dollar initial investment, an occasional watering if the summer is a scorcher, and a little patience, these trees will bear fruit – and lots of it – for years to come.
Now I need to look up how to include these gems in our meals, and preserve them for future indulgences!