Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Starting a New, Very Small Orchard

       There's no such thing as a free lunch, even when "lunch" is less lawn to mow.  Today I paid the first two installments on the project I posted about yesterday, the hard-to-mow block of grass between the rose garden and livestock loading chute.  First, I wrote the check for the two quince trees and two wild sour cherry tress I plan to put here.  They come cheap, but very short: one to two feet and three to six inches, respectively.  The quince is supposed to top off at twelve feet tall and twelve wide, while I can expect the sour cherry to reach fifteen by fifteen feet.  I picture that working well in the available 25 x 33 foot space.

Two quince trees in our back yard.
        Why do I want quince trees?  Nostalgia may have something to do with the choice. My father-in-law often recited the poem about the owl and the pussy cat who went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat, taking some quince which they ate with a runcible spoon, so naturally, we gave him a couple of quince trees.  Since he loved jellies and jams, that's what I made for him from the fruit.  These trees are more than twenty-five years old now.  I have no idea how long they normally live, but the one on the right is doing very well while the one on the left is dying a little more every year.  When Dad planted it, it was crowded by some wild plum trees and never seemed to get a foothold.  Although I like the fruit, I don't like the location of these trees.  They block the view from the kitchen window, and I have no idea how much longer even the robust one will survive, so replacements seem to be called for.  The fruit is supposed to have many more uses than jelly, and is itself a pectin substitute you can use in combination with other fruit.  It even has medicinal applications; its seeds are used to make hand lotion.  Considering that the "trees" I'm buying are only between one and two feet tall, it will be a while before they'll yield the fruit to experiment with!        The second installment payment I made today was the physical part.  I dug a trench from the rose garden foundation to the barn, pulled up the construction grade edging from the south end of the rose garden and relocated it in the trench.  The edging doesn't extend all the way to the barn, but that's okay since there will be more vehicular traffic there that would only damage it.  I removed some of the taller weeds around the loading chute preparatory to spraying with an herbicide.  I got a little carried away with the weed removal and worked down the west side of the barn, taking out poke weed, grape vines, lambs quarter, burdock, etc., a regular jungle you couldn't walk through.  Now you can. I sprayed where the trees will go and the loading chute, but the mosquitoes discouraged me from venturing into the shade by the barn.
Wild strawberries and common cinque-foil as a ground cover.

        I checked the wild strawberries and common cinque-foil I planted earlier this year in the evergreen garden.  They're sending out runners that I can use in and around the loading chute and, maybe, as a ground cover in this very small orchard.
       I am so looking forward to not mowing this particular area again that I can't begrudge all the work that will go into permanently getting rid of this little patch of grass.

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