Sunday, April 20, 2014

Working on the Orchard

My aunt used to call me a "frustrated farmer" - and maybe she's right!  I can't seem to stop myself from agricultural pursuits - even now when it is just the two of us and we don't even eat that much.  Our latest project is the orchard.  We decided that planting an acre of vegetables every year for the deer, slugs, raccoons, bear, etc. was probably a bit excessive.  And we are getting older - all that bending, heavy weeding, etc. takes its toll on an old body. 

We had a fair start on an orchard, but it had been neglected and heavy weeds grew around the base of every tree.  Over the years the trees had grown, making it harder and harder to till between them.  After one day of getting whacked in the head by overreaching branches as I drove the tractor through the rows to do the spring tilling, I decided it was time to either take out the trees or make it easier to work.
Coincidentally, the PUD had trimmed the trees along the power lines for miles.  We had offered them a place to dump their mulch, and they brought us about 10 dump truck loads last summer.
I enlisted Ron's help, and he hauled bucketload after bucketload of mulch.  I laid out shade cloth and all the accumulated newspapers after I weeded around the base of the trees.  (Hopefully for the last time!)

When we were done, we had hauled and spread about 100 yards of mulch and covered the entire orchard area with about 6" of mulch.  Being a math person, I pondered our project as I worked and figured that 50' x 40' = 2,000 square feet - at 6" deep, should be 1000 square feet of mulch - and if my math formula from memory serves correctly, divide sq ft by 9 to get sq yards - which is 111 yards.  Could that be right?  No wonder my back was hurting!

So now we have 5 apple trees, 2 cherry trees, 1 pear with 4 varieties spliced to it, 2 plum trees, and 1 fig tree.  We also added two varieties of black berries to go with our existing raspberry and strawberry rows.  We have found that it is a lot easier to give away fruit than it is vegetables, and fruit is so much easier to take care of!

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