Friday, May 1, 2015

Working in the Orchard

No pictures.  Sorry.

Today I cleaned up in the orchard and mowed.

I took about a 1/4 face cord of applewood into a "townie" who runs a barbeque.  He appreciated the fact that the wood was cut to length and the big stuff was split.  I stacked it in his driveway next to his smoker.  I did not charge him.  I just want to be able to mow in my orchard and I get joy out of seeing it go to a higher purpose than a campfire.

The ground is powder dry.  That does not bode well.

Part of the plan is to pull down the two fences separating the orchard and the vineyard.  My orchards have done very well.  My vineyard, not so much.  My dream of grape wine is bowing to the reality of hard cider.  I am not going to fight with it longer.  I will keep a few vines, just because.  But most of the vineyard has been planted to apple and pear rootstock to be grafted (or budded) when they are fully established.

I am pulling out the fences so I can mow, back-and-forth, with minimal turning.  The reason there are two fences is because there is a narrow corridor between the orchard and vineyard so sheep could move between the barn and the pasture.  The original orchard went in in 1994.  We lost the barn in 2001 to a wind storm.  We no longer have sheep. The fences are coming out.

The current orchard has space for four rows of six trees each.  The extension will add another three trees to three of the rows and two trees to the most southern row.  The approximate spacing is about 15' within the row and rows approximately 30 feet apart.

Time has not been gentle to these trees.  Rabbits, overbearing followed by test winters, severe winds....all of these things have killed trees.   Some of the losses were anticipated.  Peach trees don't live long even on the most favorable of sites.

There are ten mature trees in the orchard.  The holes are being filled with new trees.  Hopefully, they will be producing before the last of the old guard retires.

I am avoiding panty-waists like peaches and am sticking with apples and pears.  I am using larger, more robust rootstocks.  The 1994 trees were planted on MAC-9, an obsolete rootstock the size of M-26.  The new apple trees are going in on Bud-118.  Bud-118 is a Russian rootstock.  This is the apple rootstock equivalent of the Mosin-Nagant.

The pear rootstock are a wild, Asian pear species called Birchleaf Pear (Pyrus betulaefolia).


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