We replanted the fruit trees today in our home orchard.We planted three apples, two pears and a peach tree.
These trees replace those that died of old age and those that we lost in the high ground water flooding during the time period of 2009-2012. This extended time of flooding was very rough time for us on our homestead. Living through the flooding and the stress that comes from the uncertainty of losing one’s home and has given me a much greater sense of how farmers and growers who live off the land must feel during bud killing frosts, drought, flooding, wildfires and so on.
Gene removing a fruit trees from its container.
We want to grow organic fruit without a lot of chemical sprays so we started this journey by reading The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips. Published by Chelsea green, The Holistic Orchard is a seminal work that is being compared with Sir Albert Howard and J.L. Rodale’s classic books on soil and organic gardening.
One of two large growing beds filled with manure, straw and our homemade compost.
After deciding that I wanted to grow heirloom trees I found a source of heritage fruit trees at Southmeadow Fruit Gardens, Baroda, MI., which is located about an hour from our home. I found I was over whelmed by the numerous choices and I just didn’t know which one would do best in our area. After several e-mail conversations with the owner of the business I placed an order for “Pete’s Picks.”
Pete choose the following trees species for us as the best choice for our soil, light and wind conditions;
Our garden cart was used to hold our mix of manure, compost and waste straw.
I also bought two Barlette pears and one Red Haven Peach from Jonker’s Garden Center, Holland, MI, a very respected nursery. I figure that I am hedging my bets by buying and planting three heritage species and two others known to do well in this geographic area.
We added Jobes fruit tree fertilizer; two spikes per tree.
OUR TREE CRITERIA:
- Semi-dwarfs (10-15 ft. in height)
- Self-pollinating trees
- Heritage tree varities
- Varities that require the least amount of chemicals possible
We have flat land, lean and sandy soil and frequent droughts here on our SW Michigan homestead. We are working with a site that is sunny with some shade created by our home and several nearby large White Oak trees. We are located 17 miles inland from Lake Michigan and the heavy winds off the big lake can sometime blow down the roadway in front of our home so our site can be very windy at times.
The planting bed location was chosen both for the amount of sun the site provided but also to create a bit more of a buffer from the class AA roadway that runs in front of our home.
Following the principles outlined in the Holistic Garden we planted our trees in a large triangle combining a Permaculture fruit guild theory with underplantings of comfrey as a deep-rooted nitrogen fixer. Later on we will add native lupines, chives, daffodils and yarrow.
We are both very tired today….but it is the satisfied kind of tired from a job well done. I know only Gene is photographed in these pictures, but I work side by side with him all the way. We are a team.
The next step will be to pick up a truck load of bark chips to use as a mulch on both beds.
In about three years we will picking our own fruit right from our own trees. ALL organic!
Small House Homesteader and gardener, Donna