My apple trees
I have always wanted to live by an apple orchard. There, spring, summer and especially fall offer up luscious smells of flowers and fruit. The October orchard air is thick as cider and the ground treacherous for walking, what with all the rounded, rotting fruit on the ground. But it is intoxicating, irresistible and a bit spooky at night amid the gnarled, crooked branches.
So last summer, after realizing I was never in fact going to buy an apple orchard, I decided to grow my own. I found an on-line seller of fruit trees and ordered 8 trees - lodi, winesap and one other whose name I cannot now recall - because they all supposedly work to fertilize the other.
Tree-planting season had long past by last summer so I was told the trees would be shipped late fall, after three frosts had assured that the trees (the tiniest of twigs really) were hibernating. By the time the trees came in late November, the ground here was too hard to plant them, so they stayed all winter in a box in my entryway, waiting. Their roots were wrapped in dampened paper and they seemed perfectly happy (and mostly forgotten) perched against the wall until such time as sun and warmth and lack of other commitments enabled me to free them from their constraints and place them in the ground.
Today was that magical day. A sunny, crisp 40+ degrees, with the ground soft and giving beneath the shovel. I dug holes deep enough to accommodate the tiny roots, cleared three feet of grass around the sprig, mulched all around and watered well. The mulch came from the wood chips of a tree on our property that fell down during a storm two years ago. When the tree men came to take it away we asked if they could chip it for us instead. They obliged - it saved them a trip - and a fee - to some nursery dump. After sitting so many months, stewing on the ground, the mulch was rich and moist and perfect for the job.
The "trees" (less than an inch in circumference and most less than three feet in height) swathed in their blanket of bark and soil, will stay dormant for another few weeks, needing time to awaken to the soil and sun and water. I imagine they will take another five years or so to be big enough to sprout fruit. I hope to be here for their first harvest. Meanwhile, I will watch them grow. And maybe practice making preserves and apple pies.