Thursday, February 26, 2009

Creating An Orchard

We have been adding to our food production as time, space, and money allow. We have been interested in apple trees but had not pursued it. On the property there is an area that is almost 1/2 an acre of pine beetle destruction. Pine trees laying everywhere and in some pretty dangerous angles. I have never thought much of the spot.

Michael checked it out and recommended we put our orchard there. He said it was a great location for fruit trees and with a little cleaning up we could get right to planting this spring. Needless to say, I felt like it would be way too much work to have a suitable spot this spring but since he is a forester by trade I went along with it.

You can see from the first pictures that this was anything but an easy job. We cut and piled, cut and piled and then cut and piled some more. If running a chainsaw makes you feel manly then this was the place to be. After we got everything piled up we got a burn permit and let it rip. There were three large piles for our Phase 1. They burned away to nothing. You can see how cleaned out it is in this area.

The trees are finally in the ground. I started with one red delicious and one golden delicious. Apple trees will self-polinate but you always do better with cross-pollination. These are good pollinators for each other and will also pollinate other varieties well as we add them. These two are semi-dwarfs and will average around 15' in height. They will produce 12 to 15 bushels per tree on average when mature. I wanted dwarf trees but did not have access to any. That's probably what my new ones will be. Dwarfs will top out at 10' at the most and still produce around 6-8 bushels. Either way, these two trees will be good additions to what we are doing. These are also right behind my beehives so it will be an easy flight. I like efficiency. :)

I wanted to plant several but at $20.00 each I don't have the money for many. Michael reminded me that overseas they do things when they can knowing it will still be good and that they are helping their kids and other future generations as well. I decided to drop the American attitude about getting it all done now and practicing some patience. Jesus continues to teach me and it was extra nice to learn something through farming since so many of His parables used the same subject.

Phase 2 will consist of continued cutting, piling, and burning. We'll plant more apple trees in this area and most likely some peaches and pears on up the hill. If you want to run your chainsaw and feel manly then come join us!


  1. John nice job Buddy, love to see what our Lord can do through us.

    IHS/ charlie

  2. Dear John,
    I stumbled upon your website via an interest in planting an orchard and in beekeeping -eventually. Presently, we only have an acre with which to work, so I'm doing preliminary research and also some planting in hopes of learning the ropes before we are able to move onto some decent acreage where, hopefully, the orchard and beekeeping plans will be realized.
    I read that you are currently somewhat limited with funds and just thought that maybe I could help with an idea: I've started to learn to propagate, and have found it quite rewarding in several ways, one of which, of course, is the financial savings! So, here it is: Find fruit trees either on abandoned farms/orchards or at roadside and take skips from them; or, simply ask another orchardist for a few slips. I've found that many folks are happy to help. Just a thought. Also, although my husband and I have started some peach trees from slips, they are really very easy to start by just planting some pits -maybe get a few peaches from your grocer or farmer's market and plant the pits. Just a few ideas.
    Best of luck,
    Amy Horvat

  3. Another Comment:
    Another idea for starting an orchard on a budget: Damson plums. They make incredible jam (some people like to eat them raw, but they are mostly used for jam and brandy.) They are about the fastest growing fruit tree I know of -you should have quite a few plums in two to three years, and they are self-fertile as well. If you really want to work on a budget; just purchase one tree -they're shrub-like trees, actually. Although most nurseries sell them grafted onto other root stock, they should do farily well where you are, unless they're sitting in a really, really damp place. Just PLANT THE TREE BELOW THE GRAFT. Damson plums are stoloniferous -they'll multiply via runners underground. I'm sure there are other fruit trees that work this way as well. Again, best of luck to you in your orcharding endeavors. Amy Horvat

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