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Our orchard

July 13, 2015
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This year has been the year of planting fruit in the garden.  I had intended to control myself and choose two or three plants a summer to add, as fruit trees and bushes can be a little pricier than perennials.  But then I decided that since it can take a few years before fruit trees have much of a yield, it made more sense to put it all in as soon as possible and get them growing, and therefore, on their way to making fruit for us to enjoy sooner.

I am still thrifty, however, so my “trees” are bitty specimens.  No matter.  We plan on sticking around here for awhile.  They’ll grow.

Since most of our new acquisitions are not much to look at yet, here’s a collage of what we have planted, all from stolen pictures.

orchard

The yard had enormous rhubarb plants when we moved in, and we’ve fully enjoyed them, although I’m attempting to move some of them to more convenient places.  I don’t want to move it all at the same time and limit my harvesting options.

We put in black, pink, and red currants last year.  This year we got a few handfuls of berries.  The pink and red ones are tasty, but we all agree the black ones are disgusting.  Are they better cooked into jam?  Is it worth even trying?

Elderberries.  I hope to both attract more birds and make elderberry syrup to use in the winter against colds.  I planted Nova and York varieties (two needed for cross-pollination) and they are already going gangbusters, putting out tons of vigorous new growth.  This is the one selection I fear I may regret, but I’m prepared to prune heartily.

Honeyberries.  I’ve never had them, but they sound like a good alternative to blueberries and their acidic soil requirements.  Borealis and Cinderella varieties planted.  One is extra crispy and probably dead, so I should contact the nursery one of these days…

Raspberries.  I ordered a fall-bearing variety and received some summer-bearing canes from a friendly neighbor.  The rabbits are attacking both.  I hope some roots survive and they come back strong next year.  Also, the spot they are in seems much too shady, but I had no ideal spaces left.

Contorted flowering quince.  I planted a dwarf variety because it looked cool.  That’s a good reason, right?  I should have put hardware cloth around it because the last time I checked, the rabbits had eaten a good portion.  Grrr.  Hoping it survives.

Columnar apples, red and green varieties.  I love the idea of these skinny trees.  They grow up, not out, and should easily fit in the small space in a sunny perennial border where I put them.  They won’t yield tons of fruit, but we don’t have space for even dwarf apple trees, so this sounded like a fun option.  The green one arrived with a dead axial bud so the nursery is going to ship me a new one.  On a regular apple tree this probably wouldn’t have mattered, but when it’s designed to only grow, up, it really needs that bud!  Sadly, bare root trees only ship in the spring, so I’m stuck waiting another year for my replacement.

Cherries.  These were my first priority this year.  We are trying a Carmine Jewel dwarf, a North Star dwarf, and Nanking bush cherries.  The North Star actually had a few pieces of fruit already this year, but the birds got to them before we did.  They looked delicious.

Part of a concord grape vine also hangs over the neighbor’s fence into our yard, which we enjoy in the fall.  My only complaint is it keeps trying to grow up into my lilacs.  They are delicious enough that I don’t grumble too much, though.

So that’s the fruit in our yard.  We are probably just setting ourselves up to feed more birds, but that’s OK.  The boys are nearly always in the backyard, so I figure they’re like living, moving scarecrows.

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