54 trees planted. We’ve chopped and scraped tree circles out of dense pasture, dug holes in clay soil and planted the fruit and nut trees with most of them having at least one of two kinds of mulch in place.
Chopping out tree rings without mechanical aid can be a drag. Canary grass can have a vertical mass of almost three inches and even with a heavy hoe and a flat shovel, the going is slow. A tractor would have been nice, but that has been a running joke for us. I speculated that the ground too and from our designated planting sites was still too wet to drive heavy equipment on. Not to mention we don’t actually have a tractor yet. So we chopped and chopped trying to make five foot wide rings to ease the competition for the new tree roots.
On our berm things were easier. The soil was still loose and we had tender cover crop to turn in. Still it’s a lot of chopping. The trees were on order, and a sense of urgency began taking hold.
I went down early to continue clearing ground. Things had dried a bit, but we had started with hand tools and the prospect of borrowing someone’s tractor seemed like too much hassle. I plugged in some tunes and chopped. By the time L arrived with the trees I was done, but I must admit some of my tree rings were a hair smaller than 5 feet wide.
L had the orchard mapped and prepared individual packets of goodies for each tree (rock phosphate, azomite, humic acid powder and a mycorrhizal fungi “tea bag”). We hauled water in 5 gal buckets from the stream for the fruit trees up at the top of the hill. For the nut trees down lower, we hooked up 200′ of hose to a 300 gallon water tank we borrowed from our friends S & J (the couple with all the right tools!). By the end of the weekend we had 51 trees planted. Three were missed in the original order but were ordered and planted shortly thereafter.
Apples: Bramley, Ashmeads Kernal, Ellison’s Orange, Wynoochee Early, Kingston Black, Michelin, Dolgo Crab; Pears & Quince: Aromatnaya Quince, Honeysweet Pear, Orcas Pear; Stone Fruits: Hardired Nectarine, Contender Peach, Early Laxton Plum, Schoolhouse Plum; Chestnut: Collossal, Nevada and Andrew Boitano, and 10 Marsol seedlings (for timber use); Hazelnut: Jefferson, York, Yamhill, Eta, Tonda di Giffoni and Dorris and 8 Beaked seedlings (for hedge row); Hickory: 2 Shagbark; English Walnut: Cook’s Giant, Chandler; Butternut: 3 seedlings
Following The Holistic Orchard recommendations for mulching, we pruned and chipped fresh alder branches 2.5″ or less in diameter. Those branches contain lignins which feed the soil food web and get our mycchorizial action a kick start. I pruned and drug branches down to L. who chipped and filled buckets. We then loaded the buckets into the Land Cruiser as walking up and down the hill was starting to wear us down and I was pretty sure the Land Cruiser wouldn’t get stuck in the mud. Thank God for 4WD (and a winch just in case). My butt is going to be rock solid when this farm is running smoothly.