After my recent confession on the failure of the first orchard in the new place, I am determined to get it right the second time. So the first thing I did was research the trees I wanted first based on who needed a pollinator and which varieties were best, then narrowing that list down to the give us something for every season and even in some cases something for early, mid and late season so there is a constant supply of fruit once the trees start fruiting. That list was then narrowed down to the juiciest and most delicious ones that will give us a seasonal delight that can’t be bought at the store.
Picking the right fruit trees is a complex business and I went through the same processes last time as well, so a lot of my options were still the same, second time round. The problem was I had left it too late in the season and all the good stuff was gone and I had to compromise dramatically, often searching the great big internet while standing in the garden centre, trying to find any information I could about the obscure and scrappy looking tree lurking in the far corner, that I knew I would probably buy regardless as I was desperate for trees.
The difference this time is I was early at the garden centre – within a week or two of the arrival of the new season trees and there were plenty to choose from and most were on my list. I may have had to swap out one or two, but it was nothing drastic, and often for something that was in the final decision category anyway. I had to make two trips, so the trees would fit in the back of the car and on the second visit I was glad for my prompt action as there were several varieties that had already sold out. The early bird gets the worm and all that.
Next, I set them off to a good start by giving them a spray for pest and disease such as leaf curl, black spot, scale and mites with Conqueror Spraying Oil and Copper Oxychloride. I did feel quite proud of myself with this step as in the past I have always been too hasty to get them planted and just bunged them in and left them to fend for themselves in a do or die attitude. I would prune and spray most winters, but never as often as recommended so there was always peach leaf curl, black spots on the quince and gross pear slugs on the plums making lace out of the leaves. It is my intention going forward these trees will stay up to date with their spray routine, so they stay healthy. They are in for a tough life here on the coast so it is the least I can do for them.
Where the orchard is, is up a valley. In the summer it is mostly full sun as the sun travels across its length but in winter one side is shaded, and as we don’t get a frost here, I was worried about the trees that need a certain number of chill hours to be successful. So I chose varieties that suit the warmer areas, but the ones that needed things cooler in winter I placed on the shady side of the hill and the ones that weren’t that bothered went on the sunny side so hopefully my plants will enjoy the thought I put into their final locations.
Then, instead of languishing for months in pots – a mistake many of the old trees I have had are familiar with, I got them into the ground within weeks of buying them and bringing them home. To be fair Hubby the Un-Gardener dug all the holes for me because he is just quicker at it than me and didn’t complain when I suggested one was in the wrong place and could he re-dig it 30cm over. You see the trees are in a couple of lines up the valley and so it will make it easy to deliver irrigation to them. I want to run a few lines of 13mm poly pipe up the hill and then have 4mm tubing going to each tree ending in a dripper or two. The end of the pipes will go through the chicken coop – the apples and pears are in there, and then have connectors out by the raspberries in the garden and so watering the orchard will be as easy and plugging in a hose on a timer and these trees won’t suffer the same fate as their predecessors dying of thirst.
I still have a few things to do to make the orchard right. I need to give the new pip trees a prune, so they are off to a good shape, and then do the stone fruit from the spring because it is unwise to prune these in winter due to the risk of disease. I also need to stake them so the roots can settle into the soil without being rocked by the wind, of which we do see more than our fair share. But at this point I am just pleased the trees I have chosen are in the ground and planted alongside them is a lot of good intentions.
Come again soon – I’m going to do something a tad exotic.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
FYI: The trees I now have in my orchard are:
- Plums – Santa Rosa, Black Doris and Duffs Early Jewel but I still want a Damson
- Quince – Taihape
- Feijoa – Unique, Mammoth and Apollo
- Peaches – Red Haven but I still want a Black Boy
- Apricot – Sundrop and Trevatt
- Apples – Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange but I still want a Peasgood Nonsuch
- Pear – Red Bartlett and Conference
- Olive Rakino and an unnamed variety that I’m sure will be fine.
There are still other things I want, like a persimmon, tamarillo and some nuts but they can wait.