Orchard Care

sumi

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Reading all this I'm thinking placing a hive in or near the orchard may be beneficial to the bees, trees and homesteader. If practical and doable of course. Not everyone can keep bees, but if possible, it could be wonderful?
 

Britesea

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oh, absolutely! We can't because DH is very allergic to beestings; that's why we encourage the wild bees which tend to be very docile.
 

Beekissed

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Took a few pics of some of the apple trees today....not sure if you can make out the little apples, but they have a good crop of them on there this year. This is about the time the squirrels start stealing them...but, no squirrels. Gots cats now. :D

This may just be the first year in over 20 yrs we actually get to taste a ripened apple off one of our trees.
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sumi

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There is a good crop coming there! Some apple trees are at the top of my list for when I start planting my "one day" orchard. And I'm going to stick to the older not-fancy varieties.
 

Lazy Gardener

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I can't say I know much about Orchard care but I do know that suddenly in the past two or three years my trees are producing. I'll tell you what I did differently to make this happen. Or at least I think it's what made it happen.

I mulched heavily using the BTE method of free ramial wood chips from local tree trimmers. I've refreshed the mulch a couple of times as it breaks down. I added wine cap mushroom spawn to help break the wood chips down faster and also there's a symbiotic relationship between the mushroom mycelium and plants in that it helps the plants uptake minerals.

I prune regularly. While they're dormant is best, but if it doesn't happen you can prune almost any time. I'm going to be pruning in the next week or so. Since I missed the ideal time, I was waiting for the sap to stop running heavily. Now the trees are leafed out so I can also feed them to the goats. I'll do it over a period of several days.

My pruning method is pretty basic. Cut off anything that grows completely vertically. Cut off any branches that cross each other. Cut off branches that are going to make me have to use a big ladder to pick any fruit that might grow there. And finally, step back and take a look and cut off enough of the remaining branches that I could throw a cat through the tree in any direction. Not that I would, but I could!

I fed the trees with some minerals. I used a foliar feed that I bought from the chapter leader of our local BFA.

And finally, when the trees are blooming I go look for pollinators. I wasn't finding any so I used an artist paint brush to pollinate the flowers. I just touched the center of each flower and just moved from flower to flower like a bee would. I got a nice crop of fruit the following fall. I still hand pollinated last year even though I had a beehive because we had a cool spring and my bees were low in numbers. They never made it to my fruit trees. This year I went into spring with 6 surviving hives and that seemed to be the magic number for my property. In spite of the very cold spring again all my fruit was pollinated by my bees. I will need to pull a lot of peaches off the peach tree throughout the season and also prop up some branches. There are enough peaches on that tree to take the whole thing down. It's very exciting. Everything else on my property is developing fruit in spite of the cold.
Good to hear about the wine caps. I bought some spawn a few weeks ago, and did a spot in my garden, under the bean trellis, as well as 2 spots in the orchard. I put the spawn close to the tree line at the far edge of the orchard so it would have some shade. I'm hoping the Wine Caps spread throughout the orchard. I'm a bit discouraged b/c almost all of my pole bean seed rotted in the ground. I'm hoping that the Wine Cap is not to blame. Any experience using Wine Cap in the garden around seeds that you are trying to germinate?

I love your pruning method. Will have to get me a cat!
 

freemotion

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Good to hear about the wine caps. I bought some spawn a few weeks ago, and did a spot in my garden, under the bean trellis, as well as 2 spots in the orchard. I put the spawn close to the tree line at the far edge of the orchard so it would have some shade. I'm hoping the Wine Caps spread throughout the orchard. I'm a bit discouraged b/c almost all of my pole bean seed rotted in the ground. I'm hoping that the Wine Cap is not to blame. Any experience using Wine Cap in the garden around seeds that you are trying to germinate?

I love your pruning method. Will have to get me a cat!
The only time I've had seeds like beans rot instead of germinating as if there's extended rain or if it is too cool. Beans like heat. If it's too cool or too wet they'll rot before they sprout. The mushrooms have not made any noticeable difference. Except in my harvest, which is noticeably larger.
 

Lazy Gardener

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I replanted the beans, and see some signs of germination today. We've had horrid wet and cold weather until just recently. Even covered with poly to hold in the heat, those poor beans just turned to rotten paste! I hate to plant new ones in the same spot, but really didn't have much choice in the matter. It's been in the 80's to 95 for the past 5 days or so, so those beans had better perform. Just to be safe, I'm going to plant a Tee-Pee of them elsewhere, but it's really getting too late to plant them if I don't do so this week. The season has gotten away from me, so there will be no corn this year, and only some butternut squash.
 
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