18 October 2007

Adopt a Tree

We have been given the opportunity to try something pretty cool at El Rancho. I don't know if Meg and I have ever mentioned the fruit trees on our property, but they are in abundance and in very poor condition. The owner of the house and land is very fond of trees and allows them to sprout wherever they may. We agree that the more trees the merrier, but our little orchard is in serious need of some TLC. What we are dealing with is crowding and years of neglected pruning. We want to have fruit-bearing trees at The Future House and avoiding what has happened here is high on our list of concerns. Our mission is to save not all of the trees, but start with one and maybe work from there.

Focusing on only one tree, when there are easily a dozen or more, makes the most sense for one very real reason, which is we have no idea what we are doing. Neither Meg or I have any experience with trees beyond climbing and respectful admiriation. We figured the best approach would be to spend this winter reading our asses off on tree care and then test our knowledge on one tree. This way if something goes terribly wrong the casualties will be minimal. The lucky test subject we adopted is an apple tree (we're not sure what kind) close to the chicken pen and garden.

What this photo shows is a few of the obstacles we must address. The first is the volunteer black walnut positioned between the apple tree and the chickens. The leaves and root system of black walnuts contain a toxin that is bad for apple trees. (A little side note, these toxins are also terrible for tomatoes. The roots of this tree extend to where we planted our tomatoes and it severly cut down our production.) So the first thing we have to do is cut down that damn walnut tree. The next thing we will have to address are the six to eight foot spikes in the middle of the tree. This type of fruit tree should look like a goblet (open in the center). We will have to be careful when we cut these out because we don't want to shock and kill the tree by removing too much at once.

The walnut can be cut down now, but we are going to hold off until early spring before we do any pruning. As these steps unfurl, we will be sure to keep you posted.



Anonymous said...

just don't ask meg's dad for pruning advice - not his gift

Dayna said...

Meg, Thank you so much for the comment on my hornworm! I've been trying to find out what it is. We don't grow tomatos, however, it has eaten an entire tree full of leaves.

I'm going to go outside and see if we can still find it. My kids would LOVE to watch it transform!

I'm off to check out your blog (I was here once today from PW's blog too!).

I love the rain collecting idea, I recently read about it in a magazine, and had thought about it for our very dry hill in the back yard.