Archive for March, 2012

More work

I’ve done some more work to the orchard.  Since my in-laws came a few days after I got the trees in the ground, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to work on the orchard.  Last night, I was able to go buy some mulch and put it around the trees.  This should help protect them and keep the moisture around the tree there for a longer period of time.  Still need to get some fencing around the orchard.  I’ve talked to a few friends who have considered growing apples as well.  Gave him some information to think about and shared a little of my knowledge with him.  haha, I’m talking like I’ve been doing this for more than a few months!

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The trees are in!

This past Friday, my trees arrived from TreesOfAntiquity.com.  Luckily, I had talked to my dad about borrowing his rototiller and he brought it over.  Saturday was a very busy day, so Sunday (March 18, 2012) was the day to get the land worked and get the trees in the ground.  It took me about 2.5 hours to till up the grass and get it halfway decent.  Man, it was TOUGH work getting that sod turned over!  My arms were sore on Monday.  Now it’s Thursday and I’m not as sore as I was.

Last night, I worked a bit on my orchard.  It was mostly putting some fertilizer around the trees.  I decided to only put a little around each tree so I could give them a few more treatments.  I have humates as well, but since I didn’t put them on initially when I planted, I’m going to wait a little bit.  I’ve read that you aren’t supposed to water again until they start to bud, so I’m going to hold off until they are ready to be watered.  Also, I put some of the branch spreaders on the trees to get my branches growing at the correct angles.

One of my trees, Blair White (White Pearmain), already has a bud!  I was very surprised yesterday when I saw that. What makes it even more amusing is that is the tree I thought was in the worst spot!  The soil is more rocky in that area and I figured it would not grow as well as the others.  So far, I’ve been proven totally wrong.  Last night, I took my daughter out to see the bud, and she was really excited going over there and kept saying, “Apples!  Apples, Daddy!”  She’s two, so it’s cute to see her get excited about stuff.

As for the name Blair White, I’ve decided to name all my trees after famous athletes from Saginaw (probably going to be named after football players).  I’ve only named two of them so far, Blair White (White Pearmain) and LaMarr Woodley (Northern Spy, since he’s good at getting sacks for the Pittsburgh Steelers).  I’m going to have to come up with more names and put the tags on the trees before too long.  I’ll use my wife’s label maker and stick the labels on the aluminum labels I got with the trees.  Putting the name of the tree, the type of tree, and maybe some more information on each label is probably what I’m going to do.

The weather around here has been insane.  We have set records each day the past eight for high temperature.  Yesterday is was at least in the mid 80’s, extremely warm for late March.  Local weather people say we shouldn’t worry too much about snow because the lakes and ground have warmed up so much already.  Even if it does get a hard frost, I’m not going to worry too much because I won’t be getting apples this year anyway.

There is still a lot of work to be done.  Still need to put some mulch around the trees and plant a cover crop.  I’m hoping to get a chance to work on it this weekend, even though my in-laws are in town.  I bet I can convince my father in law to come give me a hand, he has a huge garden and a few apple trees as well.  I’ve taken a bunch of pictures, but the camera is at home.  I will do my best to get some posted in the next few days.

Working In The Evening

Like I have been for the past month or so, tonight after my wife went to bed I worked on apple  tree stuff.  Since the trees will be here pretty soon, I figure I should get some of the planning finished.  Trying to figure out how best to lay out the trees.  Ideally, I want to have a wide middle path between the two lines of trees.  This is because of two factors.

  • I would like to be able to walk in between the trees while they are blooming and have plenty of room to move and admire the beauty of the trees.
  • If the rows are a bit wider, I will have room to move a ladder between trees quickly and efficiently.

This method should let me experience what a real orchard would be like if I were to walk down a row in between trees.  If I should ever decide to try and grow a few acres, i’ll totally be ready…to walk among the trees.  Only have a few more things to learn…you know, soil, pruning, how to treat the trees organically but still take care of diseases and bugs.  There is only EVERYTHING left to learn!  Everyone has to start somewhere I suppose.

Andiamo!

Well, I ordered my first apple trees yesterday from www.Treesofantiquity.com.  This is something i’ve been wanting to do for about seven years.

I was going to plant one at my old house, but decided not to because of a few reasons.  #1 – it would be in the dog yard.  I didn’t want my dogs eating the apples.  The greyhound we had then, Chase, would have LOVED it though.  He loved apples.  #2 – the huge maple tree wouldn’t have allowed it to get much light.  I know they need plenty of sunlight to grow and the huge trees in the yard would have stunted the growth.

The thing I thought was interesting about Trees of Antiquity is the trees they have.  Most of them are heirloom varieties, so they aren’t ones you will just go find in the store.  I’ve thought about putting in a Granny Smith and a Braeburn, but for my first attempt at growing apple trees, I figured something a little different was in order.  I was able to procure six heirloom apple trees, they are as follows.

  1. Hauer Pippin
  2. Cox’s Orange Pippin
  3. Newton Pippin
  4. Ashmead’s Kernel
  5. White Pearmain
  6. Northern Spy

In addition, I bought starter kids for them all, which include branch spreaders, tags, and fertilizer.

The trees won’t be shipped for a while still.  It could be a month before they actually get to me.  In the meantime, i’ve been posing questions to as many apple people as I can.  One of the emails I sent was to the Michigan State Extension office in Flint.  I have also sent an email to the owners of Eastman’s Antique Apples.  They have a 15 acre orchard in the Breckenridge area with about 1,500 different varieties.  This summer/fall, I hope to purchase a bunch of apples from them so I can taste a bit the crazy different types of apples that are out there.  Michigan is near the top in the United States for apple growing.  Hopefully I will be able to utilize the knowledge of these people to make my tiny home orchard into a fruitful one!