Archive for July, 2008

Summer orchard progress

July 24, 2008

Life has been busy what with lots of solar cell engineering and a renewed focus on the fiddle (I’ve added a couple really cool, rhythmic minor key tunes – Cliffs of Moher and Morrison’s, and some old favorites, including Spootiskerry, Silver Spear, Drowsy Maggie, and Julia Delaney), but I’ve been up to work on the orchard a couple of times over the last few weeks.  I mowed down the rye/vetch mix, which had grown up into a massive tangle of verdant vines almost as tall as I am.  The orchard grass/clover/timothy mix I put down has come up pretty well, though it’s thin in the drier spots because of the lack of rain.  I tried out the new irrigation pump, which I hooked up to the black pipe I installed earlier in the year.  The tiny four cycle motor can put out a nice stream from a garden hose even at a pretty low idle, and it handily provides for two hoses at full bore.  It appears as if it could run at least four rainbirds simultaneously if I ever wanted to water the whole half acre, though to save water I probably won’t do that except in emergencies (e.g getting a cover crop to sprout in a dry spell).  It makes it pretty easy to dump five or ten gallons on each tree in short order.  I also patrolled the fenceline, pulling weeds that were in danger of shorting the fence, and put a coat of white paint with rotenone on the bases of the apple tree trunks to ward off borers.  That mixture is an experiment; the suggested mix of white paint and drywall compound did not seem to deter the borers, though it did make it easier to see the damage they inflict.   An infestation of Japanese beetles started munching on the trees, so my mom put out some pheremone traps that seemed to collect them pretty well.  The trees generally seem to be doing well; most have added 8-12″ of new growth despite being transplanted, and I had to release the species nametags that came on them, to keep them from constricting the stems as they expand.

I also dragged a couple of cords of four foot firewood out of the woods from the maple area with help from my Mom and my cousin Matthew using the cordwood hauler, and put it on my grandfather’s firewood pile.  I put a few tanks of gas through the chainsaw clearing further down the hill along the stone wall for the maples, and helped my folks bush-hog the fields (gotta get some sheep to make use of all that grass).  My cousin and I also cut down a couple of crooked wild apple trees and a dying pine to make room for a giant compost pile behind the pole barn, where roots from the orchard clearing and crooked softwood chunks can slowly decay to mulch over the coming decades.  All in all things are going and growing well, and I look forward to seeing how the trees look on Labor Day weekend.