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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Orchard - Part 2

July  - October
Now that each apple tree was in, fertilized, and properly protected from pests...it was time to nurse them back to health.  They had been stuck in gallon containers for who knows how long and we wanted to make sure they could spread their roots before the cold weather hit.

With the deer fence (simple concrete mesh) and the rodent mesh (hardware cloth) around the trees we knew they wouldn't get picked on...but they need water everyday.

At first we were trucking up two 55 gallon drums of water from home, siphoning them into buckets and giving each tree about 7 - 8 gallons of water a day.  We slowly weened that back to one 55 gallon drum and 5 gallons of water, per tree, per day. 

We also put in posts to support each tree.  At first they were pressure treated posts - because they were free from a deck that a friend tore down.  Even though they were pretty old posts we decided to tear them out and put in cedar posts.  Not sure what we were thinking when we put them in but who wants chromated copper arsenate leaching into their apples.

As the summer led into fall we started gearing up for mulching around the trees.  We had watched the documentary Back to Eden (which you too can watch for free on their site).  We'd like to get more and more into natural ways for growing food as well as initiating permaculture techniques.  Part of this involves planting crops next to each other that are mutually beneficial.  We also want to try "no till" farming as much as possible.

We knew we had to kill the grass/hay around the trees and put down some organic matter to plant in.  Working at a hardware store provides me with tons of free cardboard.  We have a full dumpster of the stuff every week.  So I take my pick.  We also have a wood chipper at work...and we just happened to cut down 65 trees this summer.  So we planned to lay cardboard, chip the tree tops and lay it all around the trees.

Of course things don't always go as you plan.  The massive amount of cardboard I had scarfed didn't nearly go as far as I thought it would...and then to top it all off the chipper broke down.

But, the kids had a blast with the cardboard.

So, winter is coming and the orchard is far from mulched.  There is not enough cardboard, the chipper is down and out for quite a while, and the days are getting shorter  

Will our heroes finish the job before the snow flies?  Will they have a restful and peaceful winter knowing that the orchard has been put to bed and the ground is being prepared under a blanket of mulch and snow all winter long for the spring planting?
Part 3 Coming Soon

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