Birth Of An Orchard
Part 4
Forlorn Reality

Dateline: 26 September 2014

Futureman, on the way to the orchard
(click pictures to see larger views)

Lyle Stout sent me an e-mail wondering how my orchard was doing these days. It's a good question, and this blog post will answer it, in a round-about way.

For those who don't know, I wrote about the orchard of my dreams in the following blog posts…

Part 1: Getting Started (April 2013)
Part 2: Layout & Planning (April 2013)
Part 3: After A Summer's Neglect (November 2013)

Back in the spring of this year I spent several hours over the course of a few days working more at leveling a circle of ground around each tree, and laying in a heavy mulch of hay from old round-bales that were on the property (as explained in Part 3). I also planted some comfrey around the trees. And that was the last I've seen of my orchard.

Life gets real busy around here in the spring and doesn't let up until late fall. The orchard is quite a distance from my house, on the new land we bought a few years ago. Out of sight, out of mind. I've come to realize it's not the best situation for getting an orchard started. It would be a whole lot better if the orchard were right near my house. But there is no land right near my house for an orchard. It's a bit of a conundrum.

Anyway… yesterday was a good day to go and see my forlorn orchard. Marlene had a lunch date with a friend so it was me and Futureman (my grandson), home alone, looking for something to do together before his nap time. 

We took the "back way" to the orchard, which is to say, into the woods behind our house, down into the gully for a distance, then up out of the gully into the field where the orchard is. We were not in a hurry. 

After finding a good spot to cross over the creek I found a steep bank, quickly climbed to the top, and encouraged Futureman to follow. He made it up the bank quicker than I expected.

I set him on a moss-covered rock outcropping at the top and took the following picture…




Then I sat on the rock while Futureman explored around the area (the cow was in his pocket)…




From there, we headed into the top of my field. Here's a picture of the field from the wood's edge…



My field is full of goldenrod. There are no animals. There is no crop. I'm still trying to figure out what best to do with it. I kind of wish it was all woods. I'm partial to woods.

The goldenrod is well over my head in parts of the field. This next picture shows Futureman on my shoulders…



Another selfie in the goldenrod jungle…


We found our way to the orchard and this is an example of what the apple trees are looking like…


It may not be immediately evident from the picture, but the apple trees have grown pretty well, despite all the weeds that surround them. The old hay mulch only suppressed the weeds a little. A thick mulch of wood chips would, I'm sure, be better, but I have no wood chips. The tree trunks have thickened nicely. There are too many branches. Pruning is needed. The ring of fencing has kept the deer from browsing… for now. 

The comfrey root cuttings I planted in the spring have established themselves. Comfrey will help with weed suppression, and it is supposed to mine nutrients from deep in the soil.

I planted three comfrey plants around each tree, several feet out from the trunks.

So my orchard isn't looking all that great, what with the weeds all around, but it's not a lost cause. Futureman and me headed back into the woods down below the orchard…



One of Futureman's favorite things to do is throw stones into the stream. There is an abundance of stone on this land. He can busy himself for a long time throwing the stones. When the stone makes a big splash, he laughs. When I throw a stone into the water so that it splashes on him, he's startled. But then he picks up a big stone for me and wants me to throw it, because he likes getting splashed.





Our little hike allowed me to check on the trees I planted earlier in the spring. Some have died. Some have lived. This little oak tree has done the best of all…


Futureman loves to play in the creek. I dare say, there is nothing he likes more than throwing stones in the water. But maybe there is something he likes more…

When we got almost home, in the woods directly behind our house, I lifted him up to grab the hanging rings under a tree fort my kids made years ago. To my surprise, he was able to hold his weight and hang there. He laughed with delight at this new experience…



And that's the story of me and Futureman going to the orchard. We had a good time together. And he had a good nap afterwards, dreaming, I suppose, of big rocks and the wonderful splashes that big rocks make in the water.






10 comments:

milton f said...

Isn't it interesting how the Creator notices an empty patch of ground, and then assures that something grows on it? The area around the fruit trees was presumably bare, and now there is goldenrod. And comfrey. What are the benefits of those plants being there?

I ponder this a lot, Herrick. Our ground is heavy clay,and after I work it up we get volunteer thistle. Why? What are the benefits? I think Fukuoka (?) addressed this.

Peace.

Stephanie in AR said...

If you were to put cardboard then the hay the weeds would not grow through for two or three years. I did that on the walkways in my garden and while the rest grew up in weeds it's only this year, with the cardboard all rotted that weeds are in the aisles. The few that grew where the cardboard had shifted where extremely easy to pull. That shifting was because I did not overlap enough for a walkway. The garden site was an excellent pasture with thick pasture grasses growing on lovely Southern red clay soil. Now some of the best dark soil is in the walkways. :) There is a blog called Walden Effect - the family there grew comfrey under their trees but did have a bit of trouble as the comfrey grew larger. I do not quite remember but it seems the comfrey was so vigorous it overwhelmed the roots of the trees. Perhaps it's a regional problem as they are in a warmer zone but perhaps not. That's a lovely property and the creek looks perfect for dabbling toes on a summer's afternoon.

jean said...

A enjoyable post showing the wonderful relationship between you and your grandson, Herrick. I'm glad the apple trees are doing well so far. May they bare many fruit.

Gail said...

Fantastic walk and my kind of tale.

Sheila Gilbert said...

Many of my fondest memories are when I used to take my brother into the woods behind our house.
We would lay in the leaves and play with the water and tadpoles and have a great time. I loved the stream too, and the frogs and the way the light tried to shine down on the ground, but only a tiny bit ever hit the ground. So of course, it was always so much cooler in the woods, which was also great, in a time when NO ONE had Air Conditioning yet.
That was way back in 1957, now my brother lives on 68? acres, and it's almost all trees. Some things stick with you your entire life, and I bet you just created one of those "Stick to Ya" kinda days! I bet ya!
Fantastic!

Lloyd said...

A day well spent. Perhaps a hive or two could make good use of all that goldenrod.

Pam Baker said...

Great story Mr. Kimball. So good to see a young'un out of doors with his grampa.
There just aren't enough hours in the day or energy in the body to accomplish all the things the mind and heart wish. My berry patch looks much like your orchard.....(sigh). However my smaller pasture looks better this year. I hope to get some pics on my blog soon.

I've run into a bunch of folks who make a similar mistake in terminology that Stephanie in AR made above when discussing mulch. "Hay" is feed and contains seeds. "Straw" is carbonaceous crop residue used as bedding, mulch and sometimes fodder but should not have seed heads. Using hay as mulch is inviting pasture to grow where it was placed as mulch. Not typically desirous when the goal is weed suppression.
There is so much we still have to learn, so must that has been lost in a few short generations. Deep into Michael Bunker's book, "Surviving Off Off-Grid" makes that point ever so vivid. Share everything you know with Futureman as he represents our most cherished gift...hope.
Down south/out west, throwing rocks is usually referred to as "chunking rocks".
Respectfully,
Pam

Survival Gardener/David The Good said...

Chop down those weeds around each tree with a hand sickle and lay them down as mulch... they'll feed the apples. It's hard to care for something far from sight, true, but the weeds are your friends and they're accumulating nutrients you can feed to your young trees. God gives us blessings even under the Curse. One day Futureman will eat a richly flavored apple from a towering and healthy tree and remember his excursions with you into the wild, wild orchard.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments, ideas and suggestions!

Clinton Johnson said...

You're not growing goldenrod, you're growing honey! If you could find the time to keep bee's, you perspective on weeds would change drastically! But at the end of the day, there are only so many hours to work with...

I'll second the note on the cardboard under the mulch... works great!