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Category Archives: Growing Fruit
At the end of the Thanksgiving weekend and beginning of the Christmas season, I have much to be thankful for.
It started with the makings of a Christmas wreath. It was 45* last Sunday afternoon. The air was still and the sky clear. I found a clean, empty grain bag in the shed and called to Ava, our English shepherd. “Let’s go tipping.” She, of course, knows nothing of tipping. She’s a dog. Ava is energetic and enthusiastic and will follow me anywhere. She’s a good companion in the woods. We walked to the back left corner of our open three acres of land, followed the grassy trail Steve keeps bush hogged, and onto another cleared trail. The second trail trail was made by a skidder in the winter of 1996/97 when our land, not ours at the time, was last logged. The ruts are deep and collect water, making small pools where wood frogs lay their eggs in the spring.
Ava explored while I walked from tree to tree, down the old rock wall that fell over long before we bought the land, snapping off the tips of balsam trees. I’m thankful for My Creative Diva’s interest in a how-to article on Christmas wreaths. This led me to thinking about the choice I made to give up market farming to pursue writing full time. It could have gone both ways, and thankfully it has gone well. I love what I do and I’ve had a good year. “Paying my dues,” is a phrase I’ve repeated many times in the past year. Without a college degree to prove my worth, I have to pay my dues. Mind you, I know a few college educated people holding writing degrees who can’t write a grocery list, but they’re worthy because they are educated. I’ve been paying my dues and I’m not for one second complaining. I’ve enjoyed the hard work.
Tipping is mindless work; snap the branch off in the right place with my right hand, pile tips on my left arm until I can’t balance them, place the pile on the ground. I go back to get them when I think I have enough to fill the grain bag. There’s a lot of peaceful time to think when I’m tipping.
I’m a little thankful that I miss being a market farmer. It means I enjoyed my work. I’m thankful that I still have two of the three high tunnels that I’ll continue to use to feed my family.
My land is nothing special, but at the same time, it is. I’m thankful that I can feed my family from my 45 acres. We have wild blackberries, raspberries and strawberries growing on our land. There aren’t a lot of any of them but I can make a batch of jam or jelly and eat the fruit fresh. The land supports cherry and apple trees that provide us with fruit, and apricot, peach and plum trees that will produce in a few years. I enjoy the wild mushrooms I pick each summer and fall. Snowshoe hare, partridge and bear give me opportunities to hunt on my own land. I can hunt for deer here but there are very few.
Even in dry years, my piece of land provides water. Natural springs dot a large portion of land close to the house. We can snowshoe to one particularly productive spring, lower a bucket through an opening in the four foot deep snow and pull up fresh, clean water. We’d melt snow first, but I’m thankful for the option.
A large medical bill nagged at us soon after we bought the land. Steve borrowed a skidder. Talk about something to be thankful for—friends who have skidders and generously let us use one when needed. I learned to drive a skidder during the cedar cut. I’m thankful I didn’t hurt myself or break anything. I did turn the skidder into a unicorn when I drove over a 10′ log that somehow, through a series of magical moves as far as I can tell, speared itself to the front of the skidder and stuck up at an angle. Steve thought I’d probably driven the skidder enough and took over. I agreed. He cut cedar trees, sold them to a local sawmill and paid the bill in full. Forty-two of our 45 acres are wooded. We can heat our home with wood from our woodlot if necessary.
The balsam I harvest comes from wild trees I managed to supply the tons of tips I used to make thousands of Christmas wreaths. It’s been a good source of income at the end of the growing season, and one I can fall back on at any time. The cedar and pine I tuck into wreaths and the cones from the white pine trees I decorate with also grow here.
I’m thankful for all I’ve learned about nature here. I’ve learned wildlife tracks, habitat and habits. Dead trees provide homes for three kinds of woodpeckers that I can watch when they start peeking out of the tree in preparation for leaving the nest.
For our family and friends, our careers, the food on our table, warmth in our home, clothes on our backs, my 10 year old reliable vehicle, and the freedoms we’ve chosen, I am thankful.
This story originally appeared in Lancaster Farming in the fall of 2011. I spent a few hours with Kathy at her bog in Downeast Maine. It was a beautiful day. It was my first trip to a bog and I learned a lot.
Maine is an ideal place to grow cranberries. The soil is acidic, days are warm during the growing season and nights are cool. Natural springs fill ponds with fresh, clean water that can be pumped into bogs for watering and flooding.
It’s the third week of October and time to harvest the cranberries at LaPlant Family Bog. Kathy LaPlant and Sue Dall, who is an employee of Jasper Wyman & Sons, operated the water reel, referred to as “the buggy.” The women looked closely through an opening in the cranberries beneath them into the water for something that doesn’t appear to be there. Dall climbed off the buggy, looked into the water and deliberately moved her feet. LaPlant moved the buggy slightly back, then to the right while Dall kept looking. Dall climbed onto the buggy and they moved forward several feet. Dall picked up a pole from the back of the buggy and expertly jabbed it into the water with enough force to make it poke into the ground and stand straight up.
“Meet me down there!” LaPlant hollered over the noise of the water reel, motioning toward two pickup trucks parked further down the bog. As LaPlant and Dall slowly made their way toward me on the reeler, berries bobbed to the surface in a straight row behind them. A slight breeze blowing in the right direction pushed them to the end of the bog.
LaPlant and Dall backed the buggy up to shore, climbed down and started pulling plant matter out of the reel. “We were looking for the edge of yesterday’s work so that we could start again. We go over the berries twice. We go over the first row to get started then go over half that row again and start the next one at the same time. The poles mark where we’ve been so we know where we need to go,” LaPlant explained. Reeling the five acre bog takes a day and a half.
“Someone came in to do the dry harvesting for me last week. He used a machine for the first time. It’s much faster than raking them. In four hours he harvested 35 totes. That’s pretty good with the learning curve,” explained LaPlant. Totes were stacked at the cottage. When the wet harvest is finished in a couple of days LaPlant will clean the dry berries. “The dry cranberries are the ones you see in bags at the store. They last longer than the berries that get wet.”
The cranberries are huge and beautiful. There aren’t many white berries floating on the water. “They need warm, sunny days and cool nights,” Dall said. When they don’t get enough sun they ripen but they don’t turn dark red.” Dall broke a white cranberry in half to show the dark seeds in the center, an indication of ripeness. With 11 years of experience with cranberries, Sue Dall is a walking encyclopedia.
LaPlant added, “They use the white cranberries to make white cranberry juice.” The bog is half full of water during reeling. When reeling is complete, LaPlant fills the bog to have it ready for booming.
“The majority of cranberry growers are women out here,” said Kathy LaPlant. “The men grow blueberries and the women started growing cranberries. I thought if they’re doing it, I can do this too.” LaPlant manages LaPlant Family Bog, one of the aspects of her family’s business.
“When I started with this, cranberries were more lucrative than they are now,” she said with a slight frown.
The LaPlants were harvesting trees on land owned by Murray LaPlant, Inc, the family business, when Kathy LaPlant was considering growing cranberries. “They had the heavy equipment out here thinning the red pine stand so it was convenient. They cleared this space. For a while it looked like a desert. They dug the bog and hauled in sand, installed the pipes and sprinklers. When the Tonka play was over and the fun stuff was done they left me all alone out here. I like it though.”
LaPlant lives at the bog for much of the growing season. It takes an hour and 15 minutes to drive from her home to the bog. During the coldest part of the season she has to be there to make sure the plants are protected from frost. “I turn on the sprinklers while it’s still dark and cover everything. It’s beautiful when the sun comes up. It looks like crystals when the bed is frozen.”
“The first time I saw it I thought I’d killed everything,” Dall said. “I called and said I didn’t know what I did but I killed them. They said it was supposed to be that way. Now I think it’s beaitful. You can’t get it in a picture, the light is never good enough.”
“I used to sleep in my truck,” LaPlant explained. Then Murray gave me a camper. Let me tell you something. I hate mice. I walked into the camper one day and there were four mice on the sticky trap. I slept in the truck again.” Murray LaPlant was Kathy’s father-in-law and the founder of the family business. “I asked Murray if I could sell the camper for the same amount it costs to buy one of those buildings the Amish in Smyrna make, could I buy one? He said yes so that’s what I did. Mice don’t get into the cottage because there’s no plumbing holes. There’s no way for them to get in.”
LaPlant provides food for workers during the harvest. They can go into her cottage to change into dry clothes, warm up and sit down to eat. The cottage is rustic, primitive and very cozy, especially for a building that has no indoor plumbing. The lights and heat are fueled by propane. It’s small enough for the heat generated by the propane lights to keep her warm on a chilly evening. Although the bog is located close to a busy highway, the area is isolated. Tracks left by a wandering moose show how large he is. “One night I could hear him walking up to the cottage. It was during the rut and I thought I wasn’t having any of that right outside so I hit the panic button on the truck and scared him away.” LaPlant has a sharp wit and sense of humor.
“It was a lot of work getting this done. Natural springs fill the pond. We got the permit to use the water I need from the Department of Environmental Protection. It’s piped in there,” LaPlant said as she pointed to the area where water is controlled at the edge of the bog. “There are 160 sprinkler heads in the five acres. I water them when it doesn’t rain enough. A lot of people think cranberries grow in the water. Let’s get that straight now. They don’t grow in water. They’re watered like a crop and flooded when it’s time to harvest. When there’s going to be a frost I have to run the sprinklers to protect the berries and vines.”
“I use light chemicals. It’s not organic. If I had neighbors I’d have to notify them when I chemigate but since I don’t have neighbors that’s not a problem. I use chemicals for weeds and insects three times a year. I use them lightly, that’s why I still have some tall grass in places. My family eats these and I live and work in here so I’m careful.” Both concern for and pride in her product are evident in her voice. “I walk up and down the bog with 25 pounds of fertilizer in a hand-cranked spreader.” Her left arm holds an imaginary spreader while her right arm cranks its handle. Wyman’s buys these cranberries and tests them to be sure they’re safe before using them. LaPlant has been the top producer several years for farms in her size range.
“It used to be that the cranberries were all put together and used. Now they separate them and test them. That’s good. I want my name on my cranberries,” said LaPlant. “I’m proud of what I grow.”
Cranberries need to be pollinated so bees are brought in. “It’s good timing,” she explained. “The blueberries are pollinated before the cranberries. Wyman’s brings in bees for me and then when they’re all done the beekeeper comes to get them.”
LaPlant has the largest bog in the area. Other growers have larger total acreage but smaller bogs. One acre on the far end of the rectangular bog isn’t producing well. “It needs some work before spring. In the spring I’ll prune the vines and transplant them down there.” She grows the Stevens variety which she purchased from Wisconsin. They’re larger than other berries commonly grown in Maine.
Sue Dall explained parts of the water reel as she refilled the hydraulic oil. It’s a simple three-wheeled machine used to knock the cranberries off the vines. “The hydraulic system runs on vegetable oil. If there’s a leak during harvesting the berries are safe. It smells like french fries some times. We have to pull the plants out of the reel. She has some grass in here. One year we harvested in a hurricane. There were white caps and the wind blew us sideways.”
The bog is topped off with water when reeling is complete. The second part of harvest is spent gathering the cranberries. A leaf blower is used to blow them off the edge of the pond. Someone in the water rakes the cranberries away from the edge. The boom is put together, board by board, and maneuvered through the water to move the berries to one end of the bog. “This is the part of harvesting that people think of,” said LaPlant. “This is the part you see the most.”
On the final day, Wyman’s comes to get the cranberries. “They suck them up into a truck. The water goes out one way and the plants we missed go another and the cranberries are left in the truck.”
When the harvest is finished LaPlant spends time cleaning up and getting the bog ready for winter. It’s the last few days of peace and quiet in her cottage until spring comes.
When I decided to give up market farming on a full-time basis, I knew I didn’t want to let the soil I’d worked hard to improve just go back to field. I don’t want to have to mow it, so simply throwing down some grass seed wasn’t an option.
I’ve long thought of fruit trees from my childhood. We used to visit a long-ago-abandoned homestead to pick fruit. The house had fallen into its foundation. The fruit trees were in need of pruning and didn’t produce a lot of fruit, but what they did provide us was delicious.
My love of truly fresh fruit, picked when ripe, started before I turned 10 years old. We picked apples, pears, plums and blackberries. One day, after warning us kids to be careful of bears before we wandered off to pick in another patch of canes, my aunt almost bumped into a bear as it feasted on the big, juicy berries. “Don’t run,” she’d told us, but that’s exactly what she did.
Fast forward 40 years and it’s my time to plant fruit trees. Last year, I planted apricot and peach trees. I planned to dig them up this spring to move them but after opening the box containing my trees from Fedco, I might not.
I realize now that those trees, purchased elsewhere, are marginal in quality at best. I will order new peach and apricot trees next year. These trees survived winter, though not well. Some of the tips of the peach trees are dead and the apricot trees didn’t grow at all last year.
I purchased 200 strawberry plants, three kiwi vines and two grape vines this year. And the trees? Plum.
I knew little about growing plums in Maine and admit to knowing only a little more now. Most of the catalogs I looked at gave only basic information such as height and width, USDA Hardiness Zones, and when the fruit would ripen. I need more. I haven’t done this before, and nobody around here grows plums. “They grow in Maine? I didn’t know that,” is the comment I hear most often.
So, armed with little information, I chose an American Plum, Prunus americana. It’s a big tree that reaches 15 to 20 feet tall. The fruit, according to the Fedco catalog, is good for eating fresh, canning and freezing. I plan to make plum sauce and jam. It’s hardy down to zone 3, and since I live in 4, I’m confident this variety is going to do well with our unpredictable winters.
American does well in acidic soil, a critical piece of information in highly acidic northeastern Maine. American is going to take a bit of work. It’s a “vigorous” tree prone to suckering and needing heavy pruning to keep it under control. We have heirloom apple trees that require yearly pruning, so I have that covered. American is an excellent pollinator and heavy bloomer. It sounds like a good choice for a beginner. I can’t wait to see this huge tree covered in white blossoms each spring.
My second choice is Toka, another very hard variety that does well down to zone 3 or 4, depending on which catalog I read. This is the variety I’m most looking forward to eating. The fruit is said to be excellent in flavor and meatiness. It’s larger than the other varieties I’ll be growing at 1.5 inches in diameter.
The plums will be ripe about a month after American. Toka is a large variety that grows 15 to 20 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide and requires heavy pruning. Anything that takes me outside on a sunny, still day in February is good, including pruning plum trees.
Kaga caught my attention quickly. I kept going back to it in the catalog. I wish I’d ordered two, and according to some information I’ve read since ordering the trees, I should have ordered two or more. Kaga apparently needs another Kaga for pollination. I’ll add it to next year’s order, or I’ll buy one if I happen to come across one in my wanderings.
I’m most excited about this variety. The fruit is supposed to be “exceptional” for eating right off the tree, excellent for jam and jelly and canning. It’s a “profuse bloomer,” something I’ll enjoy a lot. Kaga originated in the Kaga region of Japan. It’s an excellent pollinator, so with three varieties that are good pollinators, I think I have that covered. The plums are ready to pick after American and before Toka, good timing. It’s a dwarf variety that reaches only 10 feet tall.
I’ll plant Kaga in front of American and Toka so that it gets full sun and can be seen well from the house. Each little Kaga tree produces up to two and a half bushels of fruit when mature. This is the only plum tree that included a yield in the description in all of the information I read. I’m impressed by the amount of fruit such a small tree can provide. I hope our family and friends love plums as much as we do.
The thought of Kaga’s sweet and juicy fruit makes my mouth water. It’s good for cooking, baking and especially in desserts. I seldom make dessert, but this sounds worthy of an extra tart now and then. It’s hardy to zone 3 (I’m taking no chances).
The trees will be planted as soon as we get past a few 25-degree nights in the forecast. Until then, they’re safely tucked away in the dark shed where I hope they don’t break dormancy quickly.
I think it’s important to pass this notice from Cooperative Extension on to readers since so many of us are wild harvesting raspberries and blueberries. ~Robin
Fruit Growers Alert: Spotted Wing Drosophila has been found in Maine!
The first spotted wing drosophila of the 2012 season was found in a trap in Limington on Friday, July 13. Three male flies were caught in a trap in the woods adjacent to a raspberry planting. We haven’t caught flies in other locations yet, but growers should be on alert for indications of fruit flies in their plantings and premature fruit decay.Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) is a new pest which is a concern for raspberries, blueberries and day neutral strawberries, as well as many other soft fruits. This insect is a small fruit fly, similar to the type that flies around the over-ripe bananas in your kitchen. However, this species will lay its eggs on fruit before it ripens, resulting in fruit that is contaminated with small white maggots just as it is ready to pick. As a result, the fruit quickly rots and has no shelf life. This insect recently came into the U.S. from northern Asia, and caused problems with many berry crops up the east coast last year. It can complete a generation in under two weeks, with each adult female laying hundreds of eggs. Therefore, millions of flies can be present soon after the introduction of just a few into a field. This makes them very difficult to control, and frequently repeated insecticide sprays (3 to 5 times per week) may be needed to prevent infestations once the insect is present in a field. It is likely that spotted winged drosophila can successfully overwinter here, although it may not build up to damaging levels until summer. We have set out monitoring traps for spotted winged drosophila in fruit plantings around the state to determine the activity of this pest in Maine. However, these traps are unlikely to provide early warning, i.e. when we find them in a trap they are probably already established in the field. We will be alerting growers when we find them in Maine. Now that spotted wing drosophila has been confirmed in a berry planting in southern Maine, growers should be on the alert and look for fruit flies on their fruit and symptoms of premature fruit decay. Products that provide good control of drosophila on berries include Delegate®, Brigade®, Danitol®, and malathion. Please check product labels for rates, post-harvest intervals and safety precautions. Keeping the fields clean of over-ripe and rotten fruit can also help reduce the incidence of this insect. For information on identifying spotted wing drosophila and making your own monitoring traps, visit the Michigan State University’s Spotted Wing Drosophila website at: http://www.ipm.msu.edu/swd.htm. There is also a good fact sheet on management of spotted wing drosophila from Penn State at: http://extension.psu.edu/vegetable-fruit/blog/2012/spotted-wing-drosophila-swd-management.
Does anyone know the proper name for a baby apple? Seems like there must be one. This apple is growing on an over grown, in dire need of pruning, wild apple tree at the edge of the woods near the pond. I think it’s a crab apple tree. We’ll remove the brush and trees crowding it and give it some room to grow. We’ll most likely leave the apples for the wildlife.
All of the apple trees on our property are wild. They readily seed themselves and are almost always crab apples. The 100+ year old crab apple that produced apples the size of a 50 cent piece split into three pieces under the weight of ice in April, 2011. Steve cut the remaining piece down and cut and split the good wood to burn in the outdoor fireplaces. The trunk has several shoots coming up. The log we saved to cut boards from has sprouts. The tree wants to survive. I’ll cut some of the new shoots and if they root, plant them in a new place.
We have three Macoun apple trees that I love. The apples are delicious and store well. They cook up nicely to a thick sauce. They drawn in deer, partridge and unfortunately, wild turkeys.
The wild trees are welcome here and usually left where we find them. There are three young trees at the edge of the pond, at the end of the path rabbits and deer take from the woods to the pond. The blossoms in the spring are beautiful and the apples provide opportunities to observe the wildlife. We used a lot of the apples for horses, cattle, goats and pigs when we had them.
The apples below have scab. We don’t treat them. They wildlife doesn’t care. Cleaning up around the tree and turning the chickens loose in the fall to clean up scraps will help clear it up.
Kiwi wasn’t one of my favorite fruits. It’s fuzzy, and being lazy about fruit, I don’t want to peel it before I take the first bite.
The kiwis in the stores here are too hard or squishy. I hadn’t had a fresh, ripe, tasty kiwi until a local farmer gave me a dozen. Oh my! They were cool, juicy, vine ripened deliciousness, and weren’t fuzzy. That was the beginning of my plans to grow kiwi in my backyard.
The farmer didn’t know the variety, and he lives on the coast, two USDA Hardiness Zones warmer than my 4b zone. To my surprise, it didn’t take long to find two varieties that are not just cold tolerant but cold hardy. I’ll wrap them carefully in the fall to be on the safe side, but I don’t anticipate any problems with our sometimes long, cold winters.
This weekend I’ll be planting one Arctic Beauty and two Red Beauty vines.
Arctic Beauty is hardy to zone 3. Its leaves start out as purple then turn pink, cream and dark green. It will be nice to add some color to the backyard early in the season. This variety isn’t a vigorous grower so I don’t need to build a heavyweight trellis in my small backyard.
Arctic Beauty can be used as an ornamental if you’re looking for a vine but don’t like the fruit. One male vine is enough for my two female vines. I’ll plant Arctic Beauty on the back of the trellis with the two female plants on each end.
I chose Red Beauty as the fruit-producing female plants because of the growing conditions they need. They’ll be planted in a spot where the soil stays moist and will need minimal watering. The vines will get full sun until later afternoon.
According to the Fedco catalog, the fruit might be tastier than other varieties but it’s smaller. Smaller is acceptable because I wanted three vines to cover the trellis; there will be plenty of fruit.
The trellis is going to be 10 feet long, 3 feet wide and 7 feet high. I’ll eventually add a bench or a couple of comfy chairs so that we can enjoy the shade in the summer. I’ve chosen the backyard, which is on the northeast side of the house, because I want to keep the vines cooler in the spring, delaying budding. They’ll be far enough from the house to not benefit from radiant heat.
This spring I’m almost holding my breath as I watch the apple and cherry trees threaten to blossom in early May, three weeks before the average last frost date.
I’m sure I’ll start to depend on the kiwis as much as I do the other fruits we grow. I’ll stall in pulling the straw mulch away from the plants as long as possible. Red Beauty produces in mid-summer. I’m going to have to wait about three years before these vines start producing.
Kiwis like neutral soil with average fertility. Over fertilizing will help the plant grow longer vines but not produce more fruit, and this is all about the fruit for me. Seventy percent of the old growth should be removed each winter. The fruit is produced on new growth. The theme of my winters will be pruning.
During my research on kiwis I learned that the fuzzy fruit I didn’t care for won’t grow here. Fuzzy varieties are usually hardy only to zone 7. The smooth skinned varieties are smaller and don’t ship well, making them less appealing to grocery stores.
I’m looking forward to trying kiwi salsa, jam and jelly, something I’ve never tasted. Tarts and pie are also on my list of recipes to try. Having to wait a few years for the first fruit doesn’t seem unreasonable until I start thinking about all of the things I can do with kiwis.
My daughter plans to use them in smoothies with whatever other fruit we have at the time. I’m hoping they freeze well enough to put away for smoothies over the winter.
The new varieties created to allow us cold-weather growers to produce fruits usually thought of as being grown in warm areas are most welcome.
One of the most searched-for terms in my personal blog is “kiwis in Maine.” Until recently, who’d have thought it possible! I’m glad we have these options now.
I don’t know if it’s late winter or early spring. I’m leaning toward spring but we still have more snow than open ground.
Steve isn’t here very often (only to eat and sleep during the week) so there isn’t a lot of time to talk about what’s going on with my business (the farm). We took a walk around the farm this morning. I pointed out where deer have been eating the tips off branches on an apple tree at the pond. That lead to us walking the tree line and discovering tips over most of the apple trees. I knew I’d be putting cages around the apricot and peach trees when I plant them this spring. It reinforced my plan and made me start thinking about paying better attention when Ava barks at 4:45 am and wants to go. She must be sensing the deers’ presence like Maggie did. Steve flagged four wild apple trees that we’ll keep and pointed out what he’s going to cut down and brush hog. If we don’t keep up with brush hogging the forest creeps into the open space.
We talked about my plans for Christmas trees and how I’ll acquire them. I was going to pull them from a certain spot in the forest to thin out the seedlings. I’ll still do that because otherwise they’ll be in worthless clumps but the trees I’ll plant will come from a spot that is more gravely so that the roots let go easier. I’m going to plant a dozen this year and six a year plus whatever needs to be replaced each year after.
I pointed out how much more space I’ll be using for the raspberry patch. We have Heritage, Latham and Kilarney. I’m going to dig up and plant Heritage suckers first. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll start a new row of Latham or not. I won’t be replanting Kilarney.
I showed him damage to roofs on two small buildings. Actually, it’s a lack of roof on both buildings because of the last heavy snow. One building is coming down, the other will be repaired. If money fell from the sky I’d replace the barn.
We talked about where the apricot and peach trees will be planted. We discussed a change in my business plans. More about that later.
Steve surprised me with plans to buy a bed shaper for me. Nice!
The strawberry plants were just delivered. I have 75 Fort Laramie plants that have runners. If I like them I’ll snip the runners to make new rows. They’re supposed to be good the first year, great for two years then decline. I’ll till them under at the end of the third year. I don’t have much to lose. I’ve never grown them before but they were only $15 for 75 plants with a sale and coupon. I’m disappointed to read on the receipt that my apricot trees are not available. It doesn’t say if they’re not available at all or just right now. I’ll email to ask.
I’m put out by the garlic. I’ll write about that next.
I had Steve as my captive audience today. He can’t get away from a talkative wife while driving 70 mph on the interstate. I’ve wanted to pin him down on an orchard and today was the perfect day to do it.
“If I order apple trees, will you clear the land for them?” I’m going to order pears, peaches, plums and maybe apricots too but apples are his weak spot. He checks on the wild apples often from mid summer through fall. We pick and preserve the apples we need. The rest are left for the wildlife – deer, bear, partridge.
“Where?” He knows where. I’ve talked about this for years.
“Same place as always.”
He was ready to plan with me. We’ve been waiting for three very big widow makers in my chosen area to finish falling. The heavy wind has finally done the job and the trees are down.Turns out he walked out there before the ground froze and discovered it’s a lot wetter than we realized. It won’t work. Instead, we’ll plant the saplings along the edge of the grass. There were more than two dozen apple trees growing in sight of the house when we moved here. Goats and browsing cattle killed a lot of them. I let them strip the bark because the apples on those trees were of no value to us.
I don’t know yet what varieties I’ll choose. I’m looking forward to an afternoon with the Fedco Tree catalog and a pot of tea.
I’m going to expand the raspberry patch this year. I have those plants already. I’ll dig up suckers and move them into rows. We have Heritage, Latham and Kilarney.
I’ll post more about the trees when I make decisions on varieties.