How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Planting Our Orchard

This spring we planted a total of 51 trees in our new orchard. We have a nice hill with perfect southern exposure so it gets plenty of light. It’s not too steep so water shouldn’t run off too fast.

We’re also considering putting in a few swales to keep more water on the hill, but may hold off on that to see how things work out naturally first. In the meantime, the trees are taking off and budding nicely.

Well, except for the two that got girdled by mice when they were in storage before we planted them. They don’t look that hot but we’re not ready to call it quits on them.

We took the easy way out on planting them. We used a PTO driven post hole digger on the back of the tractor. Made quick work of the holes. We dug them in a grid pattern, 15 feet apart. This gives plenty of room for growth and lets us get between with the tractor for easy mowing of the grass.

The planting steps were basically:

  1. Dig a hole with the PTO post hole digger
  2. Fill most of it back in, lightly tamping down (Note:  We should have tamped down harder.  This was a mistake on our part, and we had to go back and fix it)
  3. Place the tree in the hole, making sure the graft knot is above the dirt line.
  4. Fill it in and tamp down well.
  5. Water, let it soak in, and water again

All in all, we planted the following:

  • 4 Plum Trees
  • 2 Almond Trees
  • 11 Peach Trees
  • 15 Apple Trees
  • 8 Pear Trees
  • 11 Cherry Trees

We chose varieties that complement each other pollination wise as well as provide us with a range of early, middle, and late season crops. I don’t have the exact list of the varieties we chose, but I can dig that up if anyone is curious. Everything was on semi-dwarf root stock.

To tie this into something practical for you, if you don’t have fruit trees, you should get some. They go well with just about any kind of landscaping, and you can find trees to suit just about any climate.

Even if you live in an apartment, don’t despair. You can find fruit trees that are trained to bear fruit right off the main trunk and are sized for containers. So you can truly find a fruit tree for any purpose.

And they aren’t all that expensive, either. Depending on the age of the tree you get, you can get them for anything from $7 – $30 per tree. A small price to pay for years of fruit.

Simply put, there’s no excuse to not have a couple of fruit trees in your yard. Go get them! Or at least plan on it for next year….

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9 Responses to Planting Our Orchard

  1. Wow – lots of fruit and nut trees. We have a small orchard (6 trees now) AND they are plenty for two of us. I presume you are planning to keep some of the harvest and sell the rest? Lots of food – good for you.

  2. What NO apricots? I think they grow great out in your area, and they can and dry great. Also are you doing any grapes or berries, or currants? I have been adding 2 fruit trees to my urban house a year, and more blueberries and red currants (make beautiful jelly). Sounds like a great orchard, hope some day your grandchildren will enjoy the “fruits of your labor”.

  3. Hi folks! I was the one that put together the orchard plan so I thought I’d answer some questions :)

    As you know, there are actually quite a few of us extended families that plan on making our permanent home there up at the family property. We wanted the orchard to be big enough to provide fruit for all of our families, continuing as our families grow up, and also to have extra to sell if we like. We were able to get wholesale pricing by doing 50+ trees, which is also partly why we did get so many. We’ll probably put in some nut trees next year and I would like to plant sugar maples so I can make syrup with the grandchildren I’ll have someday. And we haven’t even gotten started on berries and cane fruits yet!

    Part of the “preparing our families” mindset was to have the ability and capacity to care for all of our extended family in case of an emergency. One of the biggest priorities for preparedness, especially when you are dealing with a large number of people is having the capacity and infrastructure in place to produce enough food. We wanted to have a good sized orchard partly because yes, it costs half as much for the trees if you can do wholesale numbers but just with the mindset that “it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.” There may come a time when we depend on this orchard for our fruit needs year-round, so it will sure be nice to have!

    Kelly – this may sound weird, but no one in our family really cares for apricots! We opted to not get any of those, though they probably would grow well in the area.

  4. We used a PTO post hole driller at our last home when we planted 90 trees at once. It cost a dollar a hole for someone to come over and dig them. It was so easy! We haven’t used it at this property because we are planting about a half dozen trees each year so it’s cheaper just to dig the holes. We have about 60 fruit trees and we go through most of the fruit ourselves because we can and dry a lot of it. We do give some to the chickens and sheep and of course the birds eat their fair share as well.

  5. I’ve had fruit trees for the better part of twenty years of my 37 years on this earth, and folks would be surprised at how much fruit they can get off of just a few trees. With only a single apple tree, we were giving them away left and right. It took a while to get to that point though, so don’t wait until you think an emergency is near. DO it now, enjoy it now, and then when you really need it, it’s already there :)

  6. I grew up in Yakima Valley and loved riding my bike out to friends’ family orchards. There’s something magical about fruit trees lined up in rows. Every season seems marvelous, from snow-coated branches in winter to spring blossoms, followed by the sweet shade during summer heat, and, finally, the delicious payoff. I remember wild asparagus growing in the orchards alongside irrigation ditches. I wonder if planting asparagus under the trees would yield a nice secondary crop.

    I’m excited for all the Kearneys involved in this farm. What a wonderful family, working together this way!

  7. Have you considered putting in any citrus for the vitamin C, diet variety, and probable trade value? In Washington you’d probably have to go with dwarfed or patio varieties in a large cloche. You might reconsider apricots, they are a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and iron. Vegetarians have long treated dried apricots as a super food. Even if you don’t like then a tree or two could afford trade opportunities.

    I’ve considered getting a patio lemon or lime tree in a pot, or even getting together an entire “orchard” of potted super-dwarfs that I can have at my rental and take to the next.