Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fruit Tree Order

This time of year one of my rituals is pouring over my Raintree catalog and marking the varieties of fruit trees I already have, and making lists and circling the trees I want this year.  I'll spend many days at various times stopping to look and read the fruit descriptions again in the catalog.  I'll cross check pollination charts and ripening orders, inevitably I'll change my mind a half dozen times, and some will simply get put onto next years list.  The final cut is usually made the night before I place my order.  By the time it's placed the catalog is worn and dog eared, marked up with the order form filled out, items scratched, notes made, shipping and tax calculated, and the total added up. 

Every year when asked what I want for my birthday, even though it's already known, I let it be know again, yes, I want fruit trees.  My birthday was last week, so I got a little money to indulge.  February and March are all about fruit trees and berry bushes in my gardening year.  I've tried to place an order every year since 2006, and have ordered everything from their berry bushes and fruit trees to their nut trees and my grafting supplies.  One year, rather than order from the catalog we made the drive down to Raintree Nursery which is about 4 hours away.  It was fun to pick out our order in person, and see all their trees and edible landscape surrounding their greenhouses.

This year the apple tree I picked out is call a "Kingston Black", it is a cider apple, and one I originally bought back in 2006, unfortunately it is also one the deer got and so I wanted to try again .  I have a "Foxwelp" cider apple tree and have plans to yearly increase my cider orchard.  I also ordered more grafting supplies that I needed, some Doc Farwell's Seal and Heal, for sealing the grafts,  grafting bands, and permanent labels.  This year I'll be using some rootstock for grafting that I've grown over the last three years, and will be taking cuttings of scion wood over the next couple weeks.

If you're new to fruit trees, the charts throughout the catalog really help with correct pollinization and choosing varieties that bloom at the same time to cross pollinate each other.  You may want to plant an early, mid, and late season variety for each type of fruit to extend your season. There are fruit ripening order charts, along with ones that tells you the size the tree will reach at maturity.  As I research the pages and make decisions about what to plant where, and next to who, I can spend countess hours dreaming of the orchard while sitting by the fire in the middle of winter.
This month is the time of year I prune the apple, and pear trees, I wait to prune the plum and Asian pear until it warms up and the buds swell.  This is the also the month for gathering scion wood, labeling, and storing it in the refrigerator for the next month or two until you're ready to graft onto rootstock.  You can buy all the grafting supplies right through the catalog, even rootstock for all different types of fruit trees.

The European Pear I got this year is called "Orcas"  it will cross pollinate with one I got several years ago called Rescue.  I will plant them close enough to pollinate each other.

After much deliberation I decided this year to get one of each type of fruit tree, and focused on the one's I needed for pollination.  Asian pears do well in the Northwest and so last year I bought one called "Chojuro" and this year I got one called "Atago".  Asian pears are crisp and crunchy and will last most of the winter in storage.
I'm planning to plant the dog pasture with  4 cherry trees.  I already have one that I planted several years ago called "Black Gold", and this year I got one called "Hartland".  I'm making sure they won't block any sunlight on the rest of the orchard, because they will get big.  We have one now that my husband planted 25 years ago and it is so big the birds get the cherries.  I'm going to try to keep these trees pruned with branches low enough to harvest with a ladder.

The plum variety I picked this year is called "Kirk's Blue"  it's an English plum and is considered to be one of the best tasting plums there is.  It is a mid season ripener, I got it to cross pollinate with a plum I got last year called "Early Laxton", they are both English plums.  I have 4 types of Japaneses plums that I planted back in 2006, and they began producing last year.  They are "Shiro", "Methley", "Beauty", and "Hollywood".  One type I was going back and forth on getting this year is the Mirabelle plums, varieties like "Nancy" and "Metz" make a wonderful plum brandy.  Like my husband says, plum anything we love!!  Plums like our climate and do unbelievable well here. 
At some point I'm going to have loads of fruit, along with many varieties for grafting new trees as well.  One of my goals is to have enough organic produce to help my children when they have families.  With the price of quality organic produce it makes sense if you have the room, to take the time to plant fruit trees and take care of them.    Feeding the trees with good compost and mulch, learning to prune them for fruit production, and learning to preserve the harvest will be a small yearly investment.  In time that investment will pay great rewards with fruit to eat, store, can, and make into delicious fruit juices, wines and eau di vie's.


LuckyRobin said...

Happy Birthday. Mine was yesterday. Fruit trees sound like a wonderful present.

Mich Heywood said...

I have a small orchard which I had planned to enlarge this winter but last year was so wet here...and we now have some blocked field drains that need sorting before I can do anymore planting.
The fields are sodden, my poor trees are sitting with wet feet and my big vegetable plot is unworkable at present.
I have some Cider apples Kingston Black is one variety and oddly enough the deer here didnt touch a single cider tree. Sadly my other trees were nibbled, bad deer.

Jewel said...

Happy Birthday Lucky Robin, may you have a year of health, wealth, and happiness! Fruit Trees at this stage in my life are at the top of my wish list.

Jewel said...

Hi Mich, Sounds soggy for your garden and trees. Much of my garden is too wet to work right now too. I'm starting to get anxious to be back out digging and planting, even thinking rain gear would be ok. Nice to hear the deer didn't touch your cider apples. Do you have enough apples to make cider yet? Have you ever made hard cider?

Mich Heywood said...

We didnt make any cider last autumn thanks to the weather & the deer, but we normally make around 15gallons! The cider apple trees havent been productive enough to make the cider purely from their fruit...so we use cookers & cookers. Tastes great :)

Jewel said...

15 gallons is a lot, at least some years you're getting enough apples for making cider, lucky for you! I can hardly wait to be able to make my own from our trees.