After getting the chicks, the next thing on our farm list was ordering fruit trees for the orchard. We wanted to be sure we got the trees planted right away, for while we weren’t getting done all the things we thought we would be doing that first year, the trees would still be growing.
Seeking to glean from others’ experience, we ordered our trees from the same place that my parents did: Stark Brothers Nursery. When we looked through their catalog, it was very tempting to order one of everything! But we were reigned in by the fact that we would have to dig a good-sized hole in our clay soil for each tree we bought.
We finally made our decision: 2 pears, 6 apple, 3 peach, 2 sweet cherry, 2 sour cherry, 1 apricot, 1 almond. We also ordered raspberries and blackberries.
Planning for them to arrive in April when they would be safe from frost, we began the task of digging the holes. Our clay soil needed help, so we had to dig the hole several feet wide and deep in order to add good compost dirt so the tree would have a healthy start. Digging 17 such holes was a daunting task by hand, so renting a 2-man auger seemed the way to go, and the boys had fun learning how to properly wrestle the tool into submission.
The trees came on a Friday in 3 long boxes. How strange to see so many berry plants and trees in just a few skinny compartments. This was because they were bare root trees–last fall they were put into cold storage severely pruned with their roots kept moist. The next day we removed the damp paper from around the roots and put what appeared to be only sticks into water for a few hours to bring them out of hibernation.
We planted all the trees and berries in one exhausting but satisfying Saturday, and 3 days later I was amazed to see little buds already forming! By fall they had grown and filled out significantly. Now for the other hard part–waiting several years!