Friday, May 9, 2014

Orchard in a Box and Other Vegetative News

If you ever order an orchard through the mail, this is what it looks like when it arrives.  An entire orchard in a box - Cool!  What doesn't come in the box, but that I had to supply myself, was an entire day of digging holes, amending soil with lime, and carrying buckets of water.  Whew!  

These were bare root trees, meaning they weren't in pots of soil, but just had some damp moss packed around the roots.  I have apples, cherries, plum and prune, and even a few peach trees.  Most of the stems were trimmed so they would fit in the box, and from what I could tell from my pruning research, which says to always prune your trees when you plant them, they were already pruned into the correct shape.  I took off a few snips here and there, just to make sure.  

I ordered these fruit trees last fall, but they didn't arrive until a few weeks ago.  The trees came from a place called Grandpa's Orchard, and even though each tree cost more than the bargain pear and apple trees I planted last year, the trees were bigger and had many more roots.  The peach trees even had blooms ready to open.  Since none of the apple trees I planted last time survived, I'm hoping that buying better stock will mean I have better success.  Cross your fingers.

Note for Future Rain - this is what you planted: 

Malus domestica ‘Liberty’: Liberty Apple on Semi-dwarf (M7) root, Extra large 5/8" up caliper grade
Prunus persica ‘Reliance’: Reliance Peach on Standard (Peach) root, Extra large 5/8" up caliper grade
Malus domestica ‘Red Cortland’: Red Cortland Apple on Semi-Dwarf (M7) root, Extra Large 5/8" up caliper grade
Prunus persica ‘Elberta’: Elberta Peach on Standard (Peach) root, Extra Large 5/8" up caliper grade
Prunus salicina ‘Methley’: Methley Plum on Standard (Myro) root, Extra Large 5/8" up caliper grade
Malus domestica ‘Lodi’: Lodi Apple on Semi-Standard (M111) root, Extra-Large 5/8" up caliper grade
Prunus domestica ‘Stanley’: Stanley Prune on Standard (PEACH) root, 2 year-Extra Large grade
Prunus cerasus ‘Montmorency’: Montmorency Tart Cherry on Semi-Standard (Mahaleb) root, 2 year-Extra Large grade
Malus domestica ‘Granny Smith’: Granny Smith Apple on Semi-dwarf (M7) root,Extra large 5/8" & up caliper grade

Before I ordered I did some research and found a document published by the University of Kentucky Press about growing fruit in Kentucky.  With the exception of peach trees, I selected species that were listed in that document as being hardy, disease resistant, and recommended for my region.  And I tried to select a variety of apples so the fruiting season will be stretched as long as possible.  The document did not recommend peaches for Kentucky growers.  I bought two anyway.  What can I say, I'm a risk taker!  

In the past, when I day dreamed about growing fruit trees, I always imagined them in tidy rows in a area designated as The Orchard.  But now that I actually have some land, and I have gotten to know my soil, I decided that instead of The Orchard, I prefer to use the fruit trees as landscaping that will provide some much needed shade around the house and outbuildings.  The apple tree blooms, and the wonderful aroma, helped convince me that I want my fruit trees close, so placing them in areas where we will be walking and working daily makes the most sense.  I also know that the soil in vicinity of the house and barns is less acid, so I think they will thrive better, and I will be much more likely to take care of them if they aren't tucked away. I read once that a person should live with their land for at least a year before making big decisions about land management, and even though we haven't been living at our farm this past year, I can see that spending so much time there has given me hints about how we will want to use the land, and I want to use my fruit trees for more than just fruit.     


While the fruit trees at the farm have been getting settled in, the flowers back at our suburban house have been really putting on a good show.  Well, it's a good show if you are like me, and like to look at flowers (if you don't like looking at photos of flowers, you may want to stop right here!).  Only four tulips bloomed this year, but they were perfect pink ones, so I'm not complaining.  

Four or five years ago, Brandon and I transplanted three wild dogwood trees from my friends place to our yard.  We dug them up in the early spring, before the leaves were on, and didn't realize that there was poison ivy growing in the soil at the base of the trees.  I'm not really bothered by poison ivy, but Brandon got the worst case I've ever seen, and I'm pretty sure it was from the sap in the roots.  He was an itchy, oozy mess, and the trees didn't do well due to transplant shock and most of their stem died, so I didn't think they were ever going to be worth all his suffering.  But, two of the trees sent up new shoots from the old roots, and for a couple of years produced a few lovely flowers, which I appreciated.  This year, however, they really bloomed out, and were finally worth the trouble they caused.  At least I think they were worth it, but don't ask Brandon.  


One of my early spring favorites is the wild red columbine, which is one of our native wildflowers that I have growing along the side of the house.  The blooms remind me of delicate bells, with pink shells and yellow centers.  Before they bloom they look like pink jewel drops.  This year they bloomed at the same time as the frosty white dogwood trees, so I had plenty of flowers to admire on my self guided garden tours.  

Is there something strange about this photo of the back of the farm house, where Brandon was working to install an exterior light?  

Despite having the most weeds it has ever been permitted to have, the asparagus bed is living up to it's reputation and providing us with a daily harvest, unlike the new asparagus I planted at the farm, which has not sprouted at all.  I am beginning to think it's not going to sprout, maybe because I bought bad root stock.  I will console myself by admiring the well behaved asparagus at home.  

Strawberry blossoms promise berries very soon!

And the little greenhouse is full of tomatoes and herbs that are patiently waiting their turn to be planted in the garden.   

I did some quick research on transplanting perennials, since I hope to take some of all my perennial plants to the farm.  Iris - after they bloom; Peony - September; Dafodils - when stem turn yellow; Hosta - September/October; Gladiolus - before first frost; Oregano - anytime; Strawberry - late August -September.  I have so much to do!

The peonies, which are one of the only plants that were here when we bought this house ten years ago, aren't blooming yet, but I think they look very neat with their spherical pink flower buds.  Normally, just before they bloom, these giant buds will have lots of tiny ants on them, eating a sticky nectar the flowers produce.  I checked this morning, and still no ants, so they aren't ready to bloom just yet.  That's one of the best things about a garden, there's always something new to look forward to.  

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