Is there anything better than a hot shower after a day spent working outside? Pure bliss, I say. It’s so good to be warm and cozy again after spending this winter day working in our orchards.
I started with a tiny harvest, our very first oranges. We honestly didn’t expect any harvest at all this year, so these five beauties are treasures indeed. They’re two different varieties, so Bear and I are going to have a taste-off tomorrow to see which one we like best.
Then I headed to the Big Orchard to check on all the cuttings I planted a few months ago. The poplars are amazingly tall and strong with good, deep roots. Our driveway is lined with poplars, but a few of them have been knocked over by fierce storms, so we planted about a dozen cuttings hoping a few would take so we could fill in the gaps. They ALL took! Now we have heaps of poplars to choose from, and will get to scatter them around the farm as well.
Then it was time to really knuckle down and work. I hauled load after load of rocks in a wheelbarrow, piling them near our fruit trees to create mini-versions of talus garland community, also known as stone mulch. It’s a brilliant idea for a dry, hot climate like ours. The rocks keep the ground cool and moist, and collect dew which trickles down to the tree roots. It’s a technique that’s been used for centuries, but we only started using it a few months ago. So far so good. The trees with rocks around them rarely need to be watered, but flourish just as well as their oft-watered counterparts.
After I got the rocks hauled and placed, Bear took a break from making a medieval shield to help me prune all three orchards. It is so great to see all the trees pruned, with plenty of space in and around the branches for light and air and optimal fruit production.
When that was done, he showed me how to use the pump spray and I mixed up the pest oil spray and made a good start in spraying all the trees before it got too dark. I will finish the rest tomorrow.
Although I’m a bit sore and tired tonight, I’m so happy to know our orchards are well on their way to becoming healthy, strong, and productive.
We also taste-tested our apple wine today – sweet and dry – and were delighted to find both of them delicious. We are excited to make it again in a couple of years with our own apples.
Do you have a favorite apple drink? xo