Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

May Update

May was an interesting month.  The trees bloomed for the first time.  They also had their first fruit set.  Here is a picture of the Hauer Pippin with a growing apple.IMG_20130527_143452

The Cox’s Orange Pippin had TONS of flowers on it and looks like it might have some fruit.  I’ll have to make sure the apples don’t get too heavy on the branch and bust it.  That’s the last thing I need on that tree!  A few weeks ago, I tilled up the soil again and prepped it for the pumpkins and watermelons I planted among the trees.  Going to plant some blueberries just north of where I planted the apples.

Two trees did not bloom this year.  One was not a surprise.  The Northern Spy isn’t a big surprise.  It has been known as a tree that takes its time to get ready.  The other one was the Braeburn I transplanted last year.  I hacked it back a bit.  It had this ugly curve and some dead branches.  It’s leaved out and hopefully next year it will be happy.

Stupid Deer!

Yesterday was probably the nicest day we have encountered so far this spring.  After I let the dog out, I walked over to the mini orchard to look at the progress the trees have been making.  That’s when I made the discovery I didn’t want to make; deer had been there.  They bit the tops off of almost every branch on my Cox’s Orange Pippin.  That’s bad news to me because it’s the smallest tree and the one i’m most worried about.  They had bitten the buds off of a few other ones.  The ground was wet and I have somewhat of a ground mole problem, so you could see the deer tracks plainly.

My best guess is that because of the flooding we have had this past week, the deer finally found their way into my front yard.  Dave, my neighbor, commented on my facebook rant that he has seen deer tracks in his front yard.  The only thing I think saved me is that a car probably drove by and scared the deer.  I had to put my fencing back up around the trees to protect them until the flood waters recede and stuff starts growing back in the national wildlife refuge so they will leave my trees alone.

New Friends, New Horizions

Well, I got that mulch around the trees, but I need to pull it up.  It’s not the right kind.  What I needed to get was ramial mulch (mostly deciduous trees less than 2 inches in diameter that has been chipped).  It took a few hours of searching the internet and calling around, I believe I found some.  The guy I talked to called it “economy” mulch.  It’s pretty much exactly what I’m looking for.  Although it has some pine in it (which is a bit more acidic than regular deciduous), it should be just what I’m wanting.  It wasn’t too bad either, $12.?? per cubic yard, tax included.  The guy from Afterhours Topsoil told me the price, but I missed it.  I figure I will get a cubic yard for each tree (six trees).  This mulch will be great because it breaks down a bit faster than regular mulch and will give the nutrients back to the soil that I’m hoping to get.  Due to the fact that it’s smaller branches, the research says that it still has more nutrients than stem wood.  That’s what I’ve read at least.  Even some of the gardeners I’ve talked to had no idea about it.  They thought it sounded pretty good though.

This weekend, I’m hoping to visit with Terry Moore of Moore Orchards in Midland.  He has a large orchard with many varieties.  Terry has been working on his orchard for about 25 years.  I need a place to transition the information I read about into actual work experience.  It’s my hope that he will allow me to come and work with him on his orchard to learn about the nuances of growing apple trees.

The Hauer Pippin tree is beginning to bud as is the Cox’s Orange Pippin and the Ashmead’s Kernal.  We did have snow yesterday (no accumulation, but there were flurries) and the weather has been in a constant state of flux.  The strong spring winds are also here.  My White Pearmain has a few leaves on it!  I’m very excited to see what this growing season will bring!

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.