It has been my dream to grow a home orchard for well over a decade now. When we moved into our old farmhouse, our yard looked like an overgrown and dying Christmas tree farm. We definitely had our work cut out for us with a lot of big dying trees that needed to come down before this home orchard could happen. Even before our yard was ready, I started to quietly bring home fruit trees to plant. I just couldn’t wait any longer :). After ordering 6 heirloom fruit trees this past summer, Jason knew I was serious and we took down the last 2 dead trees from our yard just a few weeks before the trees arrived.
Starting a Home Orchard
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The first thing you need to do is find the perfect spot for your orchard to grow. I chose a spot in our yard that receives full sun and that I can enjoy from our family room window. We also placed the fruit trees very close to our new veggie garden making it easy for me to water both our fruit trees and vegetables all at the same time.
Soon after we moved in, I planted 2 winesap apple trees and brought home a moonglow pear tree last year. After reading and researching heirloom trees I ordered 6 more trees (a Fearns Pippin apple, a Newtown Pippin apple, a Seckel pear, a Redhaven peach, a Santa Rosa Plum and a Lapins Cherry) from Trees of Antiquity.
The trees arrived bare root so it was important to plant them as soon as possible. Most of our trees are semi dwarf in size so they shouldn’t get much more than 10-15 feet tall and wide. Although I love the look of tall fruit trees I know that it isn’t realistic to have to harvest most of our fruit on a ladder. We marked out the spots to plant the fruit trees so they would be about 12 feet apart (note the dead fallen tree we had to take down to make room for our fruit trees).
I dug the holes about 3-4 feet around and 1-2 feet deep.
After placing the tree in the center of the hole I back filled the hole with the hole’s original dirt making sure that the graft part of the tree was at least 2 inches above the soil line. This prevents the tree from re-rooting itself and growing taller than it’s semi dwarf size.
I made sure to leave any rocks and roots out of the soil so the trees have lots of room to spread their roots.
After the trees were planted I made sure to give them a lot of water.
I painted the trunks of the tree with some watered down latex white paint. This will help protect the young tree trunks from the sun as well as well as make it easy to see apple borers on our apple trees.
Lastly, I added mulch to all the trees.
It took only a few weeks for all the fruit trees to start showing signs of life.
There is nothing like the smell of apple blossoms in the spring.
The kids and I enjoy checking on our fruit trees every day.
It won’t be long now before we have a bumper crop of fruit!!!