Thursday, January 26, 2012

Planning for Future Pies and Cider

It's the time of year to start thinking about fruit trees. Scion exchanges are soon and it's good to get your research and lists together before you are faced with the 1000's of choices for fruit trees. 
Since our post on grafting is being featured in this months Home Orchard Society "Pom News", and their scion exchange is just around the corner,  I thought it would be nice this week to harken back to one of our early posts on the philosophy of planting fruit trees.

 Planning for Future Pies and Cider

When we moved into our first house we were neighbors with the very man who was responsible for just about every plant and tree in our yard. Even though he did not live there, he was compelled to plant beautiful things. For the sheer enjoyment of digging in the earth and watching things grow but also, I believe, because he knew then what we are learning now. That when you plant a tree you are planting something for the future, for the people and animals that will be here when you are gone.
It conveys a certain optimism and a spirit of generosity that I grew to admire and then emulate.

In our second home we were the grateful beneficiaries of three aged but healthy apple trees and four precious prune trees. They were planted by a man for his wife and three daughters in the 1940's, but also in the way of such things, for several more families including ours. What a gift! We have derived so much joy and sustenance from those trees. Along with a great deal of community building through apple cider parties and the sharing of bounty.

It's only right then that we start a legacy of apple and pear trees on our homestead.
We had a tough time deciding on the perfect trees: Melrose, Braeburn and Chehalis apples and two pear trees, Anjou and Red Anjou. These will not be the only ones we plant, but they are our beginning. They are all semi-dwarf which will make them easier to pick but eventually taller than a deer.
It turns out that the choosing was the easy part since we ended up having to dig the holes with a grubbing hoe. There were more rocks than dirt! But when all was said and done we felt the trees would do well. The rocks were very loose and there was dirt between them. Heck that's just good drainage, right? Well, like everything else at this point it's all an experiment.

Another experiment is the deer proofing Buck invented with wood scraps, field fence and bird netting. They seem to work so far and we will maintain them until the trees get tall enough to fend for themselves. Since there is so much land, the deer pressure is not too great. There are plenty of other things to nibble on.

If the deer know what is good for their future generations, they will let the trees grow and rain apples every fall for the next 75 years.


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