Starting an Orchard

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’re all ready for another work week. We got to hang out with family this weekend and work on some home improvement projects. We started off with the winter pruning of our little orchard. Whenever we prune, we take a good hard look at our trees and I can’t help but be in awe over how much they grow every year. That led me to think this might be a good time to get into how we started our orchard and how you can start yours. I’d love to inspire someone else to plant a fruit tree or two and enjoy the satisfaction of taking care of something that gives back to you.
Here’s Patrick giving one of our Pluot trees a good trim.
Autumn’s favorite part is playing fetch with the trimmings.
Then she enjoys eating them…Barry also had a great time soaking in the sun while we worked.

We planted our first two trees one of our first spring seasons living here. Patrick’s mom gifted Patrick two pistachio trees for his birthday that year (you need a male and a female). Then the following winter we added an almond, pink lady apple, two Granny Smiths and two Pluot trees. The winter after our wedding in 2013, we planted our newest tree, a Honeycrisp apple in honor of our seed planting wedding ceremony. So we’re up to 9 little trees in our orchard.

The great thing about an orchard is they don’t need much. Water, sunshine, fertilizer twice a year and protection from whatever pests are in your area are all you really need to worry about. And with a sunny location and an automatic watering system, you have even less to worry about. And then come fruit season, you get to reap the benefits. It really is gratifying to pick that fruit you watched over from bloom to your kitchen counter.

Now there are so many things I could write about keeping an orchard. But I’d like to keep it simple with what I believe were the two most important things we did that have made us successful: planting bare root and finding our local nursery.

1. Plant Bare Root

We learned from our local nursery after planting our pistachio trees from containers that bare root is the best way to go. Bare root trees are not for those that need instant gratification. Honestly if you don’t have patience, growing an orchard might not be for you. But if you can handle waiting a few years for your first crop, bare root is the way to go! Because these trees are so young, they are transplanted dormant without a container. This means that they aren’t root bound and once put in the ground will grow a lot faster than a tree that has been kept in a container. I also feel that because these trees are so young makes them acclimate better when transplanted.

2. Enlist Your Local Nursery
I can’t say enough about how important it is to find a nursery local to your area. Not only do they sell trees with root stock best suited to your climate and soil tendencies but they are so knowledgable about growing in your area. We are regular customers at Front Yard Nursery in Placerville and they have been so incredible. I’ve called them to ask quick questions and even terribly upset in the heat of summer after the deer had gotten through my fencing and wrecked a couple of my trees. And they’ve had an answer for everything! We even attended a pruning class there that taught us how to do our summer and winter pruning. I also love having the peace of mind when I shop there that the plants they carry will do well where I live.

If you’ve thought about planting a fruit or nut tree, right now’s the time to get in touch with your local nursery and get planting!

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