Happy Earth Day!

We observe Earth Day by planting trees. This year: a standard apple and american persimmon, a gingko, elderberry, oregon grape, and willow down by the stream, and the Mirabelle plum in the flowering border. Also planted the mystery tree up by the street, where the fig didn’t make it. The mystery tree came north with us but I have NO idea what it is… though the buds do look like those on the linden.

Today was very warm and sunny (and humid… after weeks of rain) so planting trees was mostly endurance. Especially the ones in the far pasture, since we have to ford the stream and cross soggy pasture with the wheelbarrows of dirt.

But when not planting trees in the hot sun, what a beautiful day! The bees are buzzing in the cherry tree,s maples, and kale (two of the three hives made it through the winter), birds are chirping and carrying on, everything is budding or blooming or growing.

The garden paths are built or cleared, and all are mulched. Planted potatoes, and mulched onions and other early plantings… the broccoli/cabbage was looking droopy but responded well to watering. Jay’s working on a second door to the duck room, which will be used for the meat chickens that are now in the brooder (after the ducks move into the old coop). He’s also working on fencing for the north-side pasture, but the grass is over knee-high so we’ll have to get it mowed before sheep can deal with it. They will move out there sometime after the other two sheep give birth, which could be any day now.

Fruit Trees

Fruit and nut trees take some years to produce; depending the the variety, some will produce the first year, others will take three or four years.

Online Fruit and Nut Information

North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) is an organization dedicated to fruits. In addition to their publication, they have a very interesting email list that is not restricted to members.

The Home Orchard Society (HOS) is an organization of home-scale fruit growers in the Portland, Oregon area. Among other things, they host the fall fruit tasting and spring scionwood exchange.

Mail Order Suppliers

While trees from a reputable local nursery are best, you can get better survival rates for bareroot fruit stock ordered online from reputable companies, certainly than the bagged trees from big-box stores. Mail order places can get the tree to you as soon after they dig the tree, and wrap the roots with sawdust or wet newspapers and wrap it in plastic. The tree doesn’t have to spend any time sitting around in a store waiting to be purchased. However, some mail order places don’t take care, in which case you can end up with a lot of dead trees. I’ve had a terrible results with Gurney’s and Musser.

Burnt Ridge Nursery is one of my favorite online fruit and tree nurseries. They have great prices, great selection, and the trees and shrubs I ordered from them while inconsistent in quality (size/branching/aesthetics of graft union), they in general look good and are a great value. With my 5th or 6th order I did have a few trees not survive (a pawpaw and a jujube; the jujube rootstock is okay but above the graft union is dead), and while a little awkward they did duly replace the plants in 2005, and the replacements are doing well. They are located in Washington State.

Raintree nursery has a very tempting catalog and beautiful online site, with lots of information and a great selection. Unfortunately they are expensive. The plants I got from them were fine, large and healthy and thriving, except a gooseberry which caught borers and died. They sent a replacement without giving me any problem. They are located in Washington State.

Big Horse Creek Farm will custom graft just about any type of apple you want at a quite reasonable price. I fulfilled my fantasy of having Swiss Gourmet Apples here! This is a type of apple I’ve had only three times in my life, in 1992 and again in 1993 at the Safeway in Colorado Springs; and a third time at the 2002 Apple Festival in Portland. They are located in the Southeast.

One Green World nursery is located outside of Portland, Oregon. Similar in selection and prices to Raintree. I have several plants from them that arrived fine, although I’ve heard some not-so-good things about their practices in some fruit circles.

Trees of Antiquity, AKA Sonoma Antique Apple Orchard, has very helpful and knowlegdeable people. They have a good selection of apples and plums, but don’t go into more exotic types of fruits. I have one plum, which came with an impressive root system and is growing fast. They are in California.

Oikos Tree Crops has a great selection of oaks, and nuts and unusual native fruits. Some interesting permaculture type plants. My order arrived quickly – the plants are in tubes, rather than bareroot, and looked good. They are in the midwest.