Bare Root Planting Season

9. February 2014 20:29

Planting phase two of the orchard was not nearly as big a chore as was the initial row planting last year. Primarily because the ground had been prepared and holes dug out (and refilled loosely) during the summer months.

The plan for what was to be planted changed several times between last January and when the orders were placed in late October / early November. The first change was the decision to make the orchard two terraced rows instead of a hillside. It started with leveling out some of the ground around the initial row. But it became pretty clear in a short time that walking back and forth across a hill was a lot harder than walking on a level surface. Thinking about the odds of a misstep in the future, a lot more shovel work went into the preparation and a terraced plan emerged.

Then there was the huge chunk of sandstone discovered just below the surface in the center of the second row of the orchard. There was no way a self-respecting fruit tree could exist with that where the roots should go, so it was excavated, the soil added to the terrace and perhaps it will eventually seem decorative.

The bench graft apple trees ordered in March were yet another change to the plan. They filled most of the terrace to one side of the rock outcropping. A trip to the local demonstration orchard created another influence on what was to be planted this winter. There was a grouping of peach and nectarine trees in full bloom. It was lovely, and there were also daffodils planted in the orchard under the trees. The daffodil part was a simple addition. I would have been looking for a place to plant those. The flowering trees turned out to be varieties I had not seriously considered, yet they seemed to have good reviews for taste and had other good qualities.

So the Asian pears, quince and persimmon were preempted in favor of more peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots. It was supposed to be a three to four year plan. I will probably find spots for the ones that got bumped off this year's list before I am done.


(See photos of the orchard progress at

Wild winter weather

3. February 2014 22:10

Yesterday we received .51 inches of rain according to our weather station. That brings the total for 2014 up to .54" -- the additional amount having arrived mid-last week. Normally in this area January is wet and dreary. This year the January weather was more like summer. Actually, it was better than that since it lacked the fog and the nighttime temperatures did not drop as much as they had in August. As show in the photo, we had daytime temperatures into the 80's in January.

Typically the local hillsides turn green in December. As of the beginning of February they are still brown due to the lack of rain. If one looks around, many trees, both landscape and native, are in serious condition as a result of the drought and may not survive.

The lack of cooler temperatures also has a lot of the garden plants confused. Blackberries are blooming and some of the blueberries have fruit. The 4-in-1 apple tree that was planted last winter is blooming but never dropped its leaves from the past season. Likewise, three out of the four low chill pears are essentially evergreens this year. Most of the stone fruit trees had dropped some percentage of their leaves. However, the retained leaves were anything but pretty, so I finally started removing the stragglers. We only have two more weeks according to the calendar for the fruit trees to get in their "chill hours" and from the looks of things, most will have bloomed before then.

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