The Orchard – Part One

Do you know when the best time to plant a fruit tree is?  Yesterday… Yesterday is the best time.  Trees take a long time to mature, so start now if you want to eat that apple before you’re 80.

When I bought my farm back in 2012, the first thing I did was plant a Gala apple tree in the corner of my backyard.  I planted it in honor of my late Grandmother. It still has never produced an apple. It’s frustrating.

When I was young, my Grandma had a big apple tree in her front yard that grew red apples. I climbed that tree every chance I got. To me it was magical. It grew stuff I could eat.

Anyway, I remember the big deal was grandma’s homemade apple sauce.  She made batches of it and then canned it, filing her basement shelves.  Her kitchen would smell like heaven.  She used a LOT of cinnamon in her sauce… I always felt like I was so important when she’d send me down to the cellar to grab a jar to serve with dinner.  I still own her fancy pink depression-glass ice cream dishes she would serve it in. I miss that applesauce.  And the tree. And of course Grandma…

After planting that first apple tree, I figured “the more the merrier” right? So I did the logical thing and planted more fruit trees, of course.

At that point, I decided it might be wise to somehow make a temporary diagram of what the hell I planted, and where I planted it, lest I ever forget.  That was easy enough – I printed off a Google map and put a number where each tree was planted.  Simple, and it works for now…

The numbers on the diagram correspond to fruit tree placement and descriptions.

For future reference, I also kept any care instructions that might be included with my fruit trees. Because, let’s face it, I suffer terribly with CRS disease (can’t remember shit) and it really helps me to look back and review.

So this is what I currently have planted on my farm…

What: Toka Plum (#1)
Why: Sweet and juicy / withstands temperatures to -50F / great pollinator for other plums / easy to grow
Harvest Time: August
Year Planted: 2013

What: Honeycrisp Apple (#2)
Why: Great for fresh eating / cold-hardy / a naturally compact tree
Harvest Time: September
Year Planted: 2013

What: Gala Apple (#3)
Why: Easy to grow / Good for snacking and pies / stores up to four months
Harvest Time: August-September
Year Planted: 2012

What: Red Delicious (#4)
Why: Highly productive / Cold Hardy
Harvest Time: September
Year Planted: 2014

What: Granny Smith (#5)
Why: Cider making, pie making, baking / stores up to six months
Harvest Time: November
Year Planted: 2014

What: Two Pear Trees (Unknown Variety) (#6 & #7)
Why: Pear butter / pear tarts / baking / pears baked in wine…
Harvest Time: Late September
Year Planted: 2014 & 2016

What: Figs – Chicago Hardy, Celeste, and an unknown variety gifted from a friend
Why: Because who doesn’t love fresh figs? If you don’t – you’re weird. And maybe I can’t be your friend anymore… Just kidding. As long as you like apples.
Harvest Time: July through Frost time
Year Planted: 2016

Celeste Fig
Chicago Hardy Fig

And there you have it.  The “Orchard” as of today.  Coming up next I’ll post “Part Two” of the Orchard, and I’ll tell you about all the new trees I just ordered for this spring’s planting.  Conceivably, when all of these trees are finally mature and producing, I’ll be picking fruit June through November, and probably pulling my hair out wondering what to do with it all… ~A

Note: The figs are not shown on the diagram because they were put in late last fall. Also, Tree #8 is a Willow Tree, not a fruit tree, so I didn’t mention it above. 

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