The Orchard – Part 1

Okay friends. Let’s take a break from the animals for a moment. I mean, animals (more animals) are the BIG thing that acreage and outbuildings would allow me.

But there’s more to a farm and more to my dream than that.
Like fruit trees.

Growing up, my grandpa had a small orchard he maintained. What I remember from it is: Pie cherries are TART. And you paint tree trucks white.

When I bought my house, I thought I would be out of it in two years—tops. So I didn’t buy any fruit trees. Here I am, 5 years later, and I’m still at the same address. Opportunity missed. So this fall I ordered a few, against my best judgement. Not in my budget, where will I put them, what if I move? Well, they’re coming. A plum, a pear and a quince tree.

On my perfect dream farm, I have a small orchard.

All the trees would be bought from Washington nursery Raintree Nursery. I love them.

Other things I love include: Apples, pears, peaches. Second best: Plums, nectarines, quince. Other ideas: Figs? Hm. Things I could give a rat about and/or refuse to grow: Apricots and cherries. The first I just don’t like enough for the mess and the second, too much work. Birds, worms, I’ve watched my neighbor grow cherries and I just don’t think it’s worth it.

So, the thing to know is that there is a science to trees. Pollination.
It’s like sex but a whole lot slower and requires a lot more outsourcing. Luckily, Raintree offers a guide.

Apples

The three that catch my eye are Pink Lady, Enterprise and Ellison’s Orange. Enterprise is a good keeps, Ellison’s Orange has notes of anise. (Really?) Ellison’s will ripen late August, followed by Pink Lady in late September and Enterprise in October. I’d think of leaving Pink Lady out of the mix (they are widely grown around here) but the way she falls into the mix between the two seems better for pollination.

I’d keep two trees of each, on semi-dwarf or dwarf rootstock. 6′ or so sounds like a good idea for harvesting.

Pears

I could go nuts. I love pears. And I didn’t even have a fresh one until I was in college.
My hard-core crush on pears means that I’ve spend a lot of time on Raintree’s website imaging what I would buy.

Straight-up European Yo.

  • Conference. “This leading French commercial variety is very juicy, sweet and buttery. It is the most productive pear, hanging from the branch in huge banana like clusters.”
  • Rescue. “Everyone who sees and tastes this huge beautiful fruit insists on buying a tree. The fruit is yellow with a bright red-orange blush and the flesh is sweet, smooth and juicy.”
  • Orcas. “The pears are great for canning, drying or eating fresh.”
  • Highland. “The highest quality keeper pear.”

One of each. >Snap<

Peaches

Wow. Raintree is seriously lacking in the peach department. Well, we can skip that for now.

Stay tuned for The Orchard – Part 2. Next week, same bat time, same bat channel. [I’ll totally build a bat-house for my farm, btw.]

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