You may or may not remember late last year I bought some fruit trees…. >Read about it here< Umm… yeah…. Well… I killed them, all of them. Well the olive still has leaves, but it might as well be dead by the look of it! It isn’t completely unexpected, as I ended the tree purchasing post with the words:
“I do feel a little sorry for the humble collection of trees I have just acquired as I have a ‘do or die’ philosophy when it comes to fruit trees.”
Although I was referring to its ability to survive here by the sea and not my negligent behaviour. But the thing is I had that old saying “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago and the second best time is now!” ringing in my ears. I left an established orchard and that was hard to do. I’d waited a long time to have an abundance of fruit and just when they got going, we got going. There are trees in that orchard with fruit I never got to try. So, I was in a hurry to replace them.
But there was so much else going on at that time, what with moving a house and building the entire garden in time for the growing season, so the trees while were on the ‘do it now’ list, I wasn’t really ready for them. By the time I got to the garden centre all of the good ones had gone already so I had to compromise on my carefully researched varieties.
Having secured a motley crew of trees, the poor things then languished in pots for far too long while I tended to the needs of new season seedlings and finishing the last of the beds. They were moved about the place several times as they somehow seemed to be underfoot and in the way. The brisk sea breezes enjoyed knocking them over again and again and as they were in small-ish pots they often dried out. Oh, and then Snowy the Goat gave them unnecessarily pruning – twice as she slipped her collar. She now sports a dashing and much stronger collar to keep her in control.
Finally, they found themselves in the ground, better late than never right? Unfortunately not. Last summer was a very dry summer, compounded by the fact that the water tank for the garden was only installed in September so it didn’t have an opportunity to become filled by nature and we started the season off in a position of shortage and water conservation. The newly planted trees were thirsty and not having the opportunity to hunker down and get their roots in deep during the winter and spring, come summer they suffered. I did water them, but not enough. My watering was sporadic for a healthy orchard, but devastatingly so for a bunch of trees in such an unfortunate situation. Death happened and much to my disgrace was not unexpected.
But I still want trees and I still have my list. I found it the other day tucked down the back of my seed tin. So, I have pulled it out, straightened it out and popped it into my handbag ready for the day I can go to the garden centre and restock with trees that will be treated with a greater kindness. The garden centres are filling with new season trees and this time I am ready for them. They will be my sole focus of care upon arrival and will be planted into spaces prepared for them.
The other key to their survival will be water. I shall set up irrigation for each tree and the starting point will be accessed from in the garden so I will have no excuse not to connect the pipe to the hose and quench the thirst of these precious trees.
So, there it is, my shameful secret revealed and my promise and intentions to do better, and the reward will be sun-warmed peaches straight from the tree, crisp apples on crisp autumn days and so many other varieties of fruit. They will be so loved that it will only be their own internal desire to remain rooted in this spot beside the sea that will let them down. I will do my absolute best by them.
Come again soon – its tree shopping time – again!
Sarah the Gardener : o)