Country Living Series

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The completion of our orchard

If you recall, we planted our baby orchard a year ago in May: Four each of apples and peaches, and two plum trees. We also planted two walnut trees in another location. These all supplement the two already-mature pears we have in the garden.

While growing fruit trees in giganto-tractor tires is completely experimental, so far we're delighted by the results. The young trees are strong, healthy, and bearing fruit.


We had left room in the orchard for additional trees or other perennials. After some discussion, we decided to plant hazelnuts. Why hazelnuts? Because these are only one of two types of nuts that grow in our region (the other being walnuts), and unlike walnuts, they bear much sooner (walnuts can take up to 15 years to yield).

So last fall, we ordered four hazelnut trees through our feed store: three Yamhill (resistant to eastern filbert blight) and one Sacajawea as a pollinator (two different varieties are needed for cross-pollination). They arrived in early April and we brought them home.


But we weren't ready to plant them yet. We needed to prep the tires and holes, so until that happened, we tucked the four pots of trees in the barn through the late spring. In late May when the weather improved, we carted them into the garden so they could get sunshine and be more easily watered.

But of course, the wind instantly knocked them over.


So I tucked them against a fence facing the prevailing wind direction, and tied them in place.



And there they waited, patiently, until such time as we could prep their permanent location.

In early July, we assembled the biggest tires we had, and Don cut off the top and bottom sidewalls.


Using one of the sidewalls as a marker, he marked out where to dig the holes to plant the trees.



Then, using the tractor auger, he augered three holes in each location, which then "joined" to make one large hole in the heavy clay dirt.


He then churned the clay-y dirt with sand to loosen it, and backfilled the holes.


In late July, he maneuvered the tires into place over the holes.


We pushed and pulled and got them as close into a tidy alignment as we could.


Don mixed up the filler for the tires: a combination of topsoil, compost, and sand. Then he filled each tire to the brim.

At last it was moving day for the trees. Because the temperatures have been so hot here, we've only been doing outdoor work in the very early morning, so we took things step by step over a few days. The first step was getting the trees over to the tires.



Within an hour, the wind had knocked the trees over, so I carted them immediately outside the fence, the logic being the prevailing wind direction would just push them into the fence and they wouldn't get knocked over.


This worked fine until this morning, when we went to actually plant the trees. Wouldn't you know it, today we have wind coming from a contrary direction.


In each tire, we dug a hole...


...then cut the cardboard-ish pot almost off the tree before settling it in the hole. (I know the pot is designed to be planted with the tree, but for us it's just as easy to cut it off.)


We repeated this with all four trees, and soon they were all planted.


Don put three screws in each tire and then anchored each tree with baling twine. (This is temporary -- we'll collar them with rubber for permanent anchors.)



Although they came as a tree, hazelnuts sprout constantly from the roots and quickly form shrubs. According to one source, "Growing hazelnuts as a shrub can make it easier to hand-harvest nuts as soon as they ripen, as they are ripe nearly a month before they drop." So -- we won't trim back the sprouts.


The last thing I did was paint the variety on the outside of each tire, so we know which is which.



As far as we can tell, this completes our orchard. There are no other trees we feel a particular interest in planting. We like the idea of growing as many perennials as possible on our homestead (less work!), and nuts are an excellent source of protein.

13 comments:

  1. I attempted to purchase hazelnut trees last spring here in southern Idaho. No nursery carried them. They said try Oregon. Next spring we'll order from a nursery the same ones you planted. Great post. Thanks.

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    1. Hey, s lynn. This spring tractor supply in pocatello had hazelnut trees for sale.

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  2. We'll be up in your panhandle next week. Here it will be just as hot there as it will be here.

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  3. How do you keep the gophers, etc. from eating the roots since the tree roots are in the ground ? Good luck with your trees. DJ

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    1. We don't really have a gopher problem around here. We get voles, which have been known to girdle tree bark under snow, but so far so good. Everything is a gamble.

      - Patrice

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  4. Oh my goodness, you left out cherries and apricots. Peaches are proof that God loves us. He made them so wonderful just to prove that so it would be awful to leave them out. But some Ranier cherries and a few apricots are nice too. Cherry cobbler, apricot jam for glaze on ham, cherries in jello, dried apricot bits in turkey stuffing. You've got the room, why waste it?

    Blue

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    1. We already have cherry bushes (not trees) in another part of the garden. As for apricots -- blech, sorry, not my favorite fruit. I much prefer plums.

      I totally agree that peaches are proof God loves us!

      - Patrice

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  5. Argh. Lost my whole comment somehow. Anyway, was just complaining that our dwarf apple, peach and pear aren't doing much for the third year in a row. Still growing I guess.

    Good luck. Renewed your .net and .org for another year. Tell Don "hi" for me. Take care.

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  6. So glad to see you are posting more Patrice.

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  7. Patrice, what tool does your hubby use to cut thru those giant tires? Does the metal wire damage the tool?

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    1. He just uses a Saws-All. Since he only cuts the sidewall, there's no metal wire to cut through.

      - Patrice

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    2. Thanks a bunch. Just want some tires as retaining walls to keep the water near the trees.

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