I have a problem. I want it all and I want it now. But there is an ancient Chinese proverb to support me in my pressing desires. “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is now.” Added to the sense of urgency is winter is slipping away. Ordinarily I’d be champing at the bit to have this cold and miserable season behind us, so I can get on with the growing season. However not when it comes to trees.
The ideal time to plant trees is now and all the nurseries have all the best trees up for grabs for the quick and the keen. In order to have what I want I need to act now so they don’t run out of all the cool ones and in an ideal world, so I can plant them before they burst into life for the new season.
The problem is, I’m not ready for them yet. Nothing that a hard weekend toiling away won’t fix. The problem with that solution is there are also several other tasks and chores that need doing before the spring that are also nothing a hard weekend toiling away won’t fix. But priority needs to be allocated where priority needs to be and at the end of the day if I don’t buy these trees then they’d just be sitting at the nursery in pots waiting for someone to buy them and so here or there, it shouldn’t make much difference. Although I do prefer the waiting here option.
I miss my old orchard. The oldest trees were 10 years old and the youngest was planted last winter. But my goodness – the fresh peaches in summer were to die for! So sweet and juicy. The quince made amazing jam, the plums were only just starting to come into their own. There were 30 or so trees, not really chosen with care, but each harvest was well received. Most found their way into the orchard on a whim while at a garden centre for something else. The many plums were the result of planting a new one each season in the hope the pollinator combination would finally work and result in a bumper crop. I think we got it right in the end but never got to see that bumper harvest.
This time I want to be more intentional and have spent hours looking into different varieties, what would work well in our climate and conditions. Pollinators needed to match up and flavour and yield was also an influencing factor. And finally, I want a good spread of fruit through out the year. I don’t want all the apples ready at the same time but result in a steady supply across the season with the final harvest being good to store.
You can have too much of a good thing and so the stone fruit will be a bountiful harvest across the summer, not just in January when we are more likely than not away somewhere on holiday. I’ve also gone towards free stone and not cling stone, because if I’m going to preserve these babies, I want to make it easy on myself.
The winter months will be a filled with the yellow sunshine of citrus and the ordinary will be enhanced with tamarillo, feijoa, persimmon, and fig. The last two I planted late in my old orchard and never saw any fruit. In our frost-free position, I have high hopes for the tamarillo as back in the swamp I killed a few trying. I have always wanted to try olives and have been told here would be good for them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The old orchard had a do or die philosophy. And some trees died. It comes from my greed of wanting to have it all. I have the space so why not try. Although there are somethings I will do differently. For a start the old orchard was ‘down the far end’ which to be honest wasn’t really that far when you only have 3 acres, but far enough for a lacklustre interest to be the predominate attitude, except when bearing fruit.
The new orchard will be an extension of the garden – just up the back and certainly not out of sight. The hose may even reach most of the trees if I plan it well. It will also require a bit more attention in the area of pest control and wind breaks. There are rabbits and deer here (so I’ve been told. I’ve seen plenty of rabbits, although not in the garden and I have yet to see the deer.) Over the last decade the cost of trees has climbed dramatically and are a significant investment when buying them all in go, rather than in dribs and drabs over the years. So, it is in my best interests to lavish love and care upon them.
So, I have my list and now all I need to do is go shopping. I love this bit.
Come again soon – the garden is still coming along but was momentarily delayed by a rather cold and windy storm.
Sarah the Gardener : o)