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Home » Organic Gardening

Fruit Trees & Berry Bushes

Submitted by on October 21, 2009 – 1:22 pm 6 Comments
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fruit trees (Medium)

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.

blueberries

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.

raspberry

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!

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6 Comments »

  • kari says:

    I’ve been doing some reading and walnuts are toxic to apples an dseveral other plants. Gaia’s Garden has good info.

  • Lanna says:

    It takes time for the berries and fruits, unless they’re already established in your yard. Can be annoying at first, that’s for sure. Just keep on pluggin’ away – you’ll figure out what works well for you.
    I am wondering how much you modified the soil around the spots you planted… because it’s red clay, right? Unless you added a bunch of things to add more nutrients and make it so water drains (rather than puddles or just runs right through it)… but I have zero experience with red clay, so don’t quote me.
    What we did around our baby fruit trees was throw down a ton (like 4+ inches) of wood chips and weed-free compost. I may be digging those suckers up and taking them with us, but that’s another story.

  • JasonH says:

    @anna: Wood ash is a base (pretty much the opposite of an acid) so I wouldn’t put that anywhere near blueberries. Pine needles or pine chips seemed to help mine. Also, Black Walnut secretes something that most garden plants don’t like – i wouldn’t plant anything near them.

    @Kendra: I planted a blueberry bush last year and it did well for a few months then lost all its leaves. I didn’t give up hope because scratching the bark still revealed some green. This spring it came back and looks very healthy and I hope to get some berries next year. As far as your raspberries, you should mulch them heavily with leaves or wood chips. Also, you need to cut out the older shoots in the spring to allow the new ones to bear fruit. Do a search on pruning berry bushes and I’m sure you can find more details.

  • Kris says:

    Take heart!!! About three years ago we planted a peach tree in our fenced in yard and our then 6 month old great dane decided it was his teething toy. He ate the cherry tree too. We didn’t take the stump (yes he ate it to a stump) out of the ground and it started to grow the next year. This year I had the most delicious peaches from my own tree. I had peaches coming out of my ears. I took them to work, took them to family, canned 3 dozen jars, made pie, cobbler and anything you can think of. My dogs ate them too. So you never know what can happen. Hopefully you will have as good of luck as we did!!

  • anna says:

    I planted my apple tree(lings) under a black walnut. They bore THREE apples (even as little guys!) the first year, and we were SO geeked. I got a Yellow delicious and a Honeycrisp – those HCs are EXPENSIVE to buy, and have THE best flavor. I had no idea until we had an apple taste-testing party this past weekend. Wha, LOVE the Honeycrisp! And we had APPLES on ours the first year!

    This year? Nothing. Don’t even look like they’ve grown. I think the inky walnut goop is stunting them, so we have to move them. My strawberry bed is there, too. *Sigh!* But I wanted to try to pinch those off and expand the patch, so that’s not a biggie. Well, until we move them in the spring. (I’m 8 months preggers, SO NOT going to be transplanting right now!)

    I hear blueberries need very rich, acidic soil to grow in. Not sure what that means, but I’m taking it to be ashy, so when I get mine (someday!), I’m raiding the burn barrel! Okay, but only a little – because I have this theory – that if you stick something in the ground and NOT tend it meticulously, it sees life as a challenge and fights for itself. If it’s pampered, it turns out ‘spoiled’. (Ha.Ha.) So far, that’s been pretty true. Other than the black walnut fiasco.

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