Orchard – Apples

“And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:

Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”

Kahlil Gibran

Why Apples?

Apples are my first pick of fruit trees for my orchard for several reasons.

Because I am practical, the first and foremost reason is that apples readily grow in cold climates and so will be the easiest to grow on our property.

Apples are very good for you overall. They contain soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols (antioxidants). They have proven benefits in fighting heart disease, cholesterol, cancer, and help regulate blood sugar.

Also, apples lend themselves to a variety of purposes. They are great for cooking, canning, dehydrating and they store well. You can use them in desserts, as part of savory dishes for a hint of sweetness, the juice can be used as a natural sweetener, and apples are just plain tasty when eaten fresh.apple-tree-360083_640

My Plan

Once again, we will probably end up with 5 varieties of apple trees. Most varieties of apples require cross pollination for successful harvests. Also, some varieties such as Granny Smith, lend themselves to canning and pies more readily that a softer variety such as a Red Delicious.

If you go to the Stark Bros page, there are literally 105 varieties of apples to choose from!

Varieties I plan to have:

  1. 2 Fuji
  2. 1 Honeycrisp (Michael’s favorite)
  3. 1 Granny Smith
  4. 1 Red Rome Beauty (to pollinate the Honeycrisp)

Most apples require cross pollination. To ensure successful pollinations, they need to be planted no more than 50 feet apart. Michael and I talked about planting our trees in a circle rather than in rows since our orchard will be small. It would be a 10 foot circle with each tree 10 foot from the other around the center – no tree is more than 10 feet from the tree next to it. This formation of trees not only allows for greater cross pollination, but also allows for harvesting within the center of the circle. Less overall movement = reduced strain on our old bodies. LOL!

Soil needs are important to consider. While I do intend to amend our soil somewhat, it is already well drained. It is mostly sandy, so I plan to amend with coco-peat to put back some carbon/organic matter into the soil, as well as some of the abundant pine needles which will add acidity.

Apple trees are not water hogs, they only need water about once a week. Using a modified drip system similar to what I did for my garden, I am confident I can rig up an auto drip system that will deep root water my orchards.  So far, according to Stark Bros., apples and almonds have similar water requirements.

Apples produce fruit within 2-5 years. Looking forward to some crunchy sweetness. YUMMY!

Do you have experience growing apple trees?



Orchard – Almonds

“I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister, speak to me of God.’
And the almond tree blossomed.”

Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco

Why Almonds?

Almonds may very well be one of the healthiest and most useful foods around. Almond trees are my first choice of nut tree. They have a mild pleasant flavor that lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes. They are an excellent source of poly and mono-unsaturated fats, omega fatty acids, essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Continue reading “Orchard – Almonds”

Orchard Planning 2… Ugh!

In a previous post I mentioned that we would want at least 5 of each variety of tree we plan to plant in our orchard.

So now I am trying to decide how many of each fruit tree to plant, and it is proving problematic. Continue reading “Orchard Planning 2… Ugh!”

Orchard Planning

In an orchard there should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen, and enough to rot on the ground. ~ Samuel Madden

There is something inherently satisfying in growing your own sustenance. As urban “homesteaders” we take it somewhat for granted that we will always have enough, like the quote says. If our gardening efforts fail us, we can run to the store. Also, we don’t have any productive fruit trees right now, so we can purchase fruit as well. My first attempts at growing fruit trees a few year back failed due to lack of knowledge about proper fruit tree planting techniques. Continue reading “Orchard Planning”