Orchard Weekend 2013

On Saturday several friends joined Alexis, my family, and me for an action-packed day of orcharding.  We put up a permanent woven wire fence at the south end of the orchard enclosing enough newground for about 8-10 trees, and planted new trees in that area and also between the existing apple trees.

We had done the preparation for the new fencing on the last orchard weekend two years ago, but had not had time to put up the fence.  So on Saturday we installed and tensioned the 6.5′ woven wire, stapled it to the posts, and braced it to convenient locations on nearby bedrock outcrops or stone wall boulders.  The woven wire (between 4×4 posts at about 22 foot intervals) makes a much more handsome and stout-feeling fence than the combination plastic netting and tensioned electric fence system we have been using, and counting the maintenance of the plastic netting and wires, I suspect it will actually end up being significantly less work in the long term.  Meanwhile, other folks raked the mulch away from the trees and spread manure and lime, as well as seaweed that was collected from the intertidal zone by an ambitious group of kids under the leadership of Jake and Joanna.  Emily and Joanna also patrolled for borers, finding a few small infestations in most trees and a couple of cases where the tree would clearly have been doomed without their efforts.  I didn’t paint the trees with latex and rotenone last year, and that might have been part of the problem – in any case, greater vigilance is needed.

We then planted new peach trees from Fedco, primarily in places where previous peach trees had died (some from apparent blight of some type, others from porcupine damage.  I’ve gotten reasonably good at bud grafting peaches, but I haven’t started a new batch, and I didn’t want to wait at least 2 more years, so I ordered several varieties from Fedco.  I also ordered another cherry tree just for fun, and we planted it on the southeast corner near the only other cherry tree.  We also transplanted a couple of apples to replace failed trees, and planted a new block of pear threes in the newground.  That area had been outside the fence, and was cleared and stumped a couple years previously, and left neglected to grow weeds and a rough sod.  Pear trees grow slowly, so I made the decision to plant them in the freshly broken newground rather than wait a year or two to cover crop it and smooth it out – we’ll see how that decision turns out.  Most of the large rocks and roots came out previously with the chisel plow and mini-ex, but I think it could use a final treatment with the moldboard plow and disk harrow before seeding down with oats and clover.  I’m going to try that mix because I’m sure the new area could use nitrogen, and the orchard grass I planted in the rest of the orchard is pretty aggressive, so it takes a fair amount of work to keep it tame around the trees.  I also turned over the sod between a couple of the newer rows at the west end of the orchard, to be planted in clover and pumpkins for the summer.  I’m going to try a mix of white and red clover in hopes of getting a long-term clover-dominated sod that can help feed the bees.

Thanks to everyone who helped out, thanks to MomJones for being with us in spirit and contributing to the tree fund, and thanks as always to my family, who enthusiastically go along with my orchard obsession.

 

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One Response to “Orchard Weekend 2013”

  1. Emily Carroll Says:

    Wow sounds like hardwork!

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