Friday, May 17, 2013

Starting an Apple Orchard in my Backyard

I am hoping you all had a wonderful Mother's Day this past weekend, I know I did. My husband and three children helped me with a project I have wanted to do for many, many years...start my own backyard apple orchard!

On my very first Mother's Day back in 1998 I received a pear tree from my daughter who was only 8 month old at the time. We planted it in our backyard, watered it, pruned it, admired it, dreamed about eating fresh pears and moved the next year. I got to see it flower one spring, but never got to see it produce any fruit. We have since moved a total of four times since that house. I have wanted an apple tree at each house, but have never purchased one. Well this house and this year are going to be different.

In my city, they host an annual Arbor Day tree sale where you can purchase two trees at deep discounted prices. Last year I purchased two ornamental flowering crab trees, mostly for their spring flowers. This year they had Honeycrisp trees! If you have read my "About Me" on the right hand side, you know that I work at the University of Minnesota, and that is where these delicious trees were developed. It was fate, I had to purchase two of them. I placed my order and waited. While waiting, I did tons of online research to see what I needed to do to give them the healthiest start to their life with us. I learned that I needed another apple tree of a different variety for them to cross pollinate. They need full sun, room to spread and need a cold winter for the fruit to bring out that lovely sweet taste. Check, check and check, I can do all of that.

So the Saturday before Mother's Day I picked up my two bare root Honeycrisp trees from the city distribution center. Mother's Day morning came and we headed to the nursery to find the third apple tree needed for me to be able to achieve actual apples in a few years. We went with a green apple variety called Candy Crisp. #1 because green apples are good to bake with, and #2 I liked that they were both "Crisp" varieties and I would be able to remember it's name.

Hubby and the children planted all three trees for me. I told them where I wanted the placement of them, and they did all the heavy lifting. I have them in the back corner of our lot, where there is absolutely no privacy but tons of sunlight. So not only will I get tasty apples in a few year, but privacy from at least four neighbors houses too! We are on a corner lot and the side of the house is a long grassy area that the kids like playing football and other sports in because there is so much room. These new trees being planted in the corner will still allow them the full sports side of our lot with no trees or shrubs in their way.

It is a little hard to see the trees in the before and after, but there is a tree by each child. Can you see how there is no privacy at all! When we are sitting at the bonfire ring, I feel like the entire neighborhood is watching us, seeing what we are doing. I hope these trees grow and fill in fast.

We are also planning on extending our deck in the backyard this summer too. With an arbor planned over part of the deck, I am hoping to plant grape vines next Mother's Day to get even more fruit growing in the backyard. I like to garden, but am not very good at weeding. So these fruit trees and vines are just the thing for me. Water and let grow. You will be able to follow along with our deck reno once summer actually gets here and we are able to start working. I can't wait! I love a good deck, especially for good Drinks-on-the-Deck!

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