Fruit Trees & Berry Bushes
Once we got our land all settled, the first thing we wanted to do was plant fruit trees. Seeing as it takes many years before fruit trees begin producing, we were very anxious to get some trees in the ground right away.
We were excited when we found a little roadside nursery not too far from us, down a remote country road. Outside they had fruit trees for sale. When the man told us they were $12 a piece, we were sold! We bought two apple trees, a Gala (my favorite!) and a Pink lady. We got two because apple trees need to cross pollinate. We also bought an Elberta Peach tree, which he told us would self pollinate, so we only got one.
I would have LOVED to have purchased several more, but our septic lines spread out over most of the yard, and we were told to keep the trees about 20 ft. from the lines.
We took the trees home and planted them as the man directed. Jerry dug a hole about twice the size of the root ball, put some composted manure down in the hole, placed the tree in the ground, and filled the dirt back in around it. I think we put some manure around the soil on top of the ground as well. Lots of water followed.
We needed to keep the grass from growing up around the small trees, so that they would not be competing with the grass for water and nutrients. At first we sprinkled wood chips around the base of the trees. Too soon, though, the grass was coming through. So I got some old carpet that we were gonna toss, cut it in smaller pieces, and laid them upside down on the ground surrounding the base of the tree. I made sure to leave some room between the carpet and the trunk, so that the tree could still get water easily. Then I covered the carpet with mounds of grass clippings.
We put stakes in the ground and I tied strips of nylon pantyhose from the stake around the tree to keep it from being blown over in strong storms. I used nylon because you need a material that won’t cut into the tree as it grows. (I since learned that after a few rain storms and hot sunny days, nylon begins to crumble. Next time, I’ll use cloth!) Then we hammered some tall stakes in the ground around the trees, and wrapped them with chicken wire to keep the goats out.
Then we stepped back, proud of our work, and admired our aspiring trees.
Through the spring, the trees began to grow. Beautiful green leaves sprouted from the limbs. I could just imagine them full grown and bearing tons of fruit. Unfortunately, the goats noticed how beautiful they were too. And a few stakes and chicken wire were not going to stop them from tasting the delicious leaves.
After jumping on the make-shift fences, rubbing up against them, and trying to get under them, they finally succeeded in knocking over a few of the stakes making it possible for them to push down the chicken wire and get to the trees. They ate all of the leaves.
Now my trees look like sticks in the ground. I’m not sure the peach tree survived. My apple trees keep trying to push out more leaves, but alas, all is in vain. No matter what I do I cannot keep the dumb goats from eating my trees.
So, I’m afraid our efforts were in haste. We should have waited until we had a proper fence around the yard to keep the goats from the trees. I’m hoping we will have a fence up by Spring, so we can encourage these trees to flourish once again.
Until then, I’ll continue to run like a mad woman, yelling and flailing my arms, out of my front door and after the goats every time I see them enjoying my fruit trees! At least it’s entertainment for the kids.
You may also remember that I planted blueberry bushes back in February. I’m afraid they look the same today as they did when I planted them. Like twigs. I think I put too much rabbit manure on them. I’m wondering if all of the pine-needles that were there affected the soil negatively somehow as well.
I also transplanted a wild raspberry bush. This is as far as it got this year. It was budding all over beautifully… until the rascally goats got involved once again. You’d think the thorns would be a deterrent! Go figure.
I guess I’m hoping that all of my fruit trees and berry bushes magically thrive next spring. If I can keep the goats away maybe they’ll have a chance!