Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

Apple Trees

One of my top priorities for this property was to plant some trees.  Since the removal of the giant, dead tree last year the front garden has looked pretty bare and exposed.  The house is also the only one on the block without city planted elms in the front yard.  To get the tree lined street look and also maintain my ‘edible-first’ mantra I wanted fruit trees.  Apples are fairly hardy in this province and after some research I decided I would need two in order to get any fruit off of them, since there are no apple trees in the neighbourhood to cross-pollinate. My local nursery isn’t open on Sundays due to ‘family values’, whatever that means so we went to a new place which was only a few blocks away.  I have to say, I might have a new ‘local nursery’.  

While there I found two varieties that I had read about online as being hardy for my area.  At 60 bucks a piece they were fairly inexpensive too compared to what I’ve seen around the city.  I settled on a Parkland and a Norland tree.  They are supposedly compatible and bloom at the same time, which is important for cross-pollination.  They are both fairly similar in fruit quality and timing and produce medium sized eating apples.  Apparently the Parkland has better storage qualities than the Norland, but I’m not sure I have room to store apples anyway, so I might have to learn to process them somehow.  

Planting was fairly straightforward.  I lined them up parallel to the elms next door and spaced them to frame the house.  I dug up sod and down roughly two and half feet through the nastiest clay I’ve yet come across.  Two wheelbarrows of nasty clay and some decent topsoil.  What to do with it?  I feel like throwing it in the dumpster, but I can’t see the city liking that too much.  Anyway, once that was taken out I mounded up a bit in the middle of the hole and detangled as best I could the rootballs of each tree.  I spread the roots out around the mound and backfilled with a mixture of well rotted sheep and cow manure, some peat based garden amendments left over from the blueberries and some good quality top soil.  I watered every few inches of backfill to moisten everything up while settling the soil and finally gave a good soaking once all was lightly firmed down.  I took care not to bury the grafts and pruned off all suckers.  Finally I covered up the moist planting holes with some cedar bark mulch I had kicking around.  

 

The house as it looked when we bought it

The house as it looked when we bought it

 

The house as of Sunday

The house as of Sunday

 

 

 

I haven’t staked them yet and not sure if I will.  It is fairly windy right now but I’m concerned about encouraging weak trunks and roots by staking.  If I do decide to I guess I’ll have to pick up some suitable wood and something to tie them with.  

Again, the hardest part will be to pull off blossoms, as it was with the blueberries.  These trees were just covered in blooms and surrounded by bees at the garden centre.  It makes me cringe to pick each flower off, but its for the best interests of the tree and for me as well, I guess.  I haven’t gotten them all off yet, as you can see in the picture, but I’ll go out and pluck a few more off today if the weather smartens up.  Then, the plan is to pick the majority off next year, about half the year after and a third the year after.  Removing blossoms helps direct growth to the roots and prevents the tree from going through boom-bust cycles of producing tons of fruit one year and little the next year.  On the plus side I should find something to do with apple blossoms, they smell fantastic.  I believe they’re related to roses?  Not sure on that but I thought I’d heard that somewhere.  

Anyway, has anyone grown these trees or have general tips on apple trees that I should know?  Leave me a comment!

Blueberries and Strawberries

Just an update on the blueberries since I just planted them in the ground.  I was originally planning on placing them on the northwest corner of the house to receive partial shade.  However, we have decided to get new windows soon and I didn’t want to place too many permanent things near the house just have them trampled down.  So they have received a much more prime location on the western edge of the property in full sun.  I dug each hole roughly two and  half times the size of the root ball and then backfilled with peat moss and composted sheep manure.  A nice deep watering on each one should encourage root growth throughout the summer. Blueberries

The hardest part of the whole experience was plucking off the beautiful little flowers and knowing that I won’t get a single, delicious blueberry this year.  A part of me really wanted to cheat and leave a few on but I know that I’d just be setting the bushes back for next year.  

As you can see there is a lot of room left for another plant maybe in the middle, depending on how big they get.  I’m never good at estimating how big plants will get and always regret my overcrowding later.  But there is a lot of sod left to come up so I could always extend the bed to the north in the future.  How many bushes would I need for two people anyway?  

 

Next, we have the strawberries.  These are planted just south of the blueberries (just above them in the picture).  I dug them up at the same time as the rhubarb from my parents yard.  Unfortunately that week was busy and cold and they sat in a plastic bag with some wet newspaper for about seven days and enduring a few light frosts.  Regardless the leaves were still green and I put all twenty of them into the ground.  After three days a few of them look like they may have gone to the big strawberry field in the sky but the majority are showing some enthusiasm for life.  I’m not too broken up about any losses.  They were free and to be honest I can’t recall what type of strawberry they are anyway.  I inherited a few plants from my aunt when I was probably 11 or so and big into gardening then.  I planted them in a crappy northern exposure beside my parents yard and they haven’t been thinned or cared for since, yet still produce the most delicious berries.  If these die I can pull another twenty out of that bed at my parents and still be doing them a favour.  Still, its always encouraging to see things thrive in the garden. 

The strawberry bed also received a nice layer of manure and some nice top soil.  The soil in that area isn’t particularly full of clay compared to the rest of the yard, but it wasn’t good, either.  Its a big question of ‘we’ll see’ what we get out of there, but I remain optimistic.  I’m hoping to get enough for at least one strawberry feast or maybe even a strawberry/rhubarb pie.  That rhubarb is sure seeming to take off.