It’s an orchard!

Last weekend the orchard was planted, thanks to the concerted efforts of my family and generous help from Brandon, Sharon, Keith, Beth, Holly, Becky, and little Ultraviolet. The weather was sunny and cool, and the trees were just starting to show their first green. First up we cut and placed intermediate posts cut from used decking at 10′ intervals to support the wires between the corner posts and hold up the backup deer netting on the inside. We mounted insulators on the outside of these posts, and stapled the netting to the inside. Brandon and Sharon built a pair of swinging gates to complete the closure, and my dad used the little bobcat excavator to grub roots from the perimeter of the orchard and adjust the position of the drainage ditch on the north side. Holly and Alexis made a very smart looking small dry stone bridge over a piece of scrap 8″ culvert to pass the ditch under the fence in the northeast corner. I also reassembled the pump box in the wellhouse, incorporating a new leather that my grandfather bought at the hardware store.

On Sunday we started moving trees from the nursery bed. With a couple shovels we cut around the roots of the trees and levered them out of the ground. The sandy soil partially fell away from the root ball, and we put each one in a 5 gallon bucket for transport up to the orchard. Using my grandfather’s ancient Sears lawn tractor with a small wagon we took the trees to the orchard, along with a 5 gallon pail of water pumped from the well for each tree. My mom turned in the piles of compost and seaweed that we made over the tree spots in the fall, and we dug holes and carefully planted the trees, watering them in thoroughly. In addition to 16 apple trees we also planted 5 peach trees in between the apples; these will grow up and fruit as the apples are gaining size, and probably die off about the time the apples start crowding them – at least this is the the plan.

It’s great to have the orchard finally being an orchard, as Brandon noted, and to have a fantastic group of friends join us to help and celebrate its beginning. By my very rough math, when in full production a half acre of apple trees should be able to produce enough food to feed about half of a person – we’re beginning to do our part to ease the global food crisis. There are five more apple trees and two cherry trees still in the nursery ready to be transplanted when the western side of the orchard is ready, and about 20 maples still waiting to be transplanted along the stone wall down to the shore. Things are coming together nicely.

Also of note, the reinvigorated well pump works very nicely, filling a five gallon pail in just a few seconds of modest effort from the ~14′ deep well. The water is cool and sweet, just as I remember it when I was a kid. We also set the new outhouse over its hole up behind the upper cabin by the orchard. Perhaps the most memorable part of the weekend was when the excavator picked up the outhouse through the open front door and carried it up to place it gently over its hole. It still needs to be screwed down to the base and have its door hung, but it is functional in its current state – nice to have it there.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out – in a few years there should be plenty of cider and apples for all.

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One Response to “It’s an orchard!”

  1. brandonstafford Says:

    A few photos from the weekend at Flickr:

    The hastily composed gate plan

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