April 30, 2016

Growing organic & GMO-free veggies, fruit and nuts

How to plant fruit trees

In our new orchard we followed the traditional advice to dig DEEP and LARGE holes.  Just as we spent MEGA BUCKS  (about $100/hole) getting these holes dug and buying Kellogg Amend by the pallet (for a 50/50 mix), I find that the latest recommendations are to dig a SHALLOW wide hole and NOT to amend the native dirt with compost.

So we have 12 giant compost amended tree holes in the orchard and about as many outside.   3 trees will be in an area that was once amended about a foot deep for a garden, but the rest of the trees outside the orchard will be in native dirt.

Here’s an OLD Dave Wilson video on fruit tree planting:

As ALWAYS, read the COMMENTS!

One person lost a tree after cutting it down to knee height as recommended in the video.

Also, the Kellogg Topper wouldn’t have been their first choice for mulch, but it’s what they had.

Interestingly, they put the mulch right up against the trunk and I’ve heard at least a thousand times not to do that as it can cause the tree to rot.  What gives?

There are numerous Dave Wilson videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClShqpLDCJ-Q97zk3tsYZAw and of course thousands of related videos on YouTube.

We’re currently building “frames” around the tree holes in the orchard and we will add about a foot of our dirt / Amend mix.  When you fill deep holes, trees can settle significantly as they get larger and heavier.   We’ll probably plant the trees even higher because I wouldn’t mind keeping the raised beds around the trees. We’ll be growing all sorts of companion plants such as comfrey, lupines, yellow bird of paradise and herbs and it’ll be our summer veggie garden until the trees provide too much shade.

When we get ready to plant we’ll stick the trees in a bucket with water and some kelp and when we plant it we’ll sprinkle myccorhizae granules on the wet roots and into the planting hole where the roots will likely touch it.

If the bareroot trees have any branches, we’ll plant so that the least dense side faces south.

We amend with rock dust, gypsum, manganese, epsom salt, iron, zinc, micro minerals, humic acid, nitrogen fixing microbes and soft rock phosphate.   I was so excited when I saw that Arbico near Tucson sells 50 lbs bags of soft rock phosphate for $18.45.   I thought I’d get 10 bags as it’s so expensive to ship.  Good thing I called to see how many they have in stock, found out that it’s drop shipped from Arkansas.  So I ordered two bags and it costs $21.76 per bag to ship UPS.

It’ll be very interesting to see which planting method works better — big deep holes with 50/50 native dirt and Amend or shallow holes with native dirt.

With regards to amendments, they work when your soil is deficient of whatever it is you’re adding.

That’s why it’s best to see what your neighbors are doing and how it works for them when you plant in native soil.

We’ve paid for several soil tests and while I don’t think that the money was wasted, they’re not so helpful in our high pH calcareous soil.

In case you’re wondering why we are planting bare root trees, I’ve heard that they’ll do better than potted trees.  Everything we propagate is grown in 50% native dirt so the plants don’t have so much transplant shock.  I also really don’t care for the fertilizer granules we usually find in purchased plants no matter where we buy them.

Tomorrow I’ll pick up another load of mulberry cuttings for mulch.  We could use another 1

Spring day and cow pie run

It was a beautiful day today and it’s amazing how HOT we get as soon as we work outside.  The high for the day was 67 F, but it sure felt like it was 20 degrees warmer.  We just had temps in the teens and it’s so nice to get hot outside.

We’re working on filling another 5 tree holes and it was the perfect day to go on a cow pie run to the corral.

2016-2-11--corralThere used to be a lot of old metal, fencing and all sorts of trash and they really cleaned it up.  Unfortunately they also took out the cattails.  It used to be so beautiful, like an oasis.  I’m surprised the fish are still in alive, although the big fish apparently died.

2016-2-11--fish

I don’t know what they eat, I suppose bugs, and they have no shelter at all.

It’s a shame to let all that water go to waste: Continue Reading

WHERE to plant the fruit trees?

I posted our 25 fruit and nut trees along with their descriptions and they are scheduled to arrive next week.

In my experience, most problems are caused by either WEATHER or CRITTERS.

We hope to eventually cover the entire orchard, but several trees will be planted outside.  Most likely the cherry, peach, nectarine and plum trees will be in the orchard.  The apple and apricot trees on the north side of the property and the nut trees east of the orchard.

While our Fuji apple blooms and sets fruit every year, we have yet to get a single apple.

It blooms, the wind blows, it freezes, the wind blows, and blows, we see a few little apples …. and then they’re gone.   This year the Arizona reeds north of the Fuji should be tall enough to protect it from the wind and hopefully will also keep it a little warmer.

I’d like to put the most vulnerable trees in the middle of the orchard and have more hardy varieties along the outside.

Since the direction of the wind changes from predominantly north to south sometime in spring, it would be so helpful to know WHEN the trees will bloom.  One of our cherries:

Royal Rainier Cherry – Semi-dwarf

Large, yellow cherry with slightly more red blush than Rainier. Excellent flavor, taste test winner. Ripens early, about 3-5 days ahead of Rainier. Pollenizer required: Lapins for low chill areas and in other areas, any sweet cherry. Moderate chill requirement, 500 hours estimated. Available on Colt.

What exactly does “ripens early” mean?  Since I don’t have a Rainier “about 3-5 days ahead of Rainier” means nothing to me.

Of course I realize that it depends on the weather when trees bloom, so you can’t predict when fruit trees “wake up”.  Last spring was so mild, our grapes were flowering by late April when we had another hard frost and they promptly froze.

While I also want to know when the fruit ripens, it’s just as important to know when trees flower.

Sure wish I could have ordered more like the Flora Gold Apricot:

… More consistently productive than many other apricots due to being less susceptible to dropping flowers in areas with considerable difference in spring day and nighttime temperatures.

Should have ordered a few months ago, before they were 80% sold out.

I’m also concerned with location for the trees requiring pollinators.  If a tree flowers while the wind still blows from the north, the pollinator should be north of the tree to be pollinated.

Some trees are “interfruitful.”

But then again, maybe I shouldn’t put all the peaches in the same area because peach specific pests and diseases would be less likely to spread.

Have to make these decisions before the trees arrive next week.

Updated list of trees still available to add to our fruit tree order

I just went through my spreadsheet with the listing of trees I considered ordering a week ago and updated availability. They’re going fast!

I did not add any trees to my list with:

  • Rootstock I didn’t care for such as Citation (not drought tolerant)
  • Low chill hours (bloom to early, frost damage, I ordered one persimmons and it might not do well here)
  • Dwarfs and miniatures
  • Multi grafts
  • Apples (quite a few still available)

I did NOT order any trees NOT grown on rootstock and as we looking for cuttings for propagating from local trees with quality fruit such as figs, jujube, mulberries, olives, pomegranates, …

Our order is posted at http://highdesertpermaculture.org/blog/2016/02/02/our-bay-laurel-bareroot-fruit-nut-tree-order/

To check for CURRENT availability please check at https://baylaurelnursery.com — at least 80% sold out already!

We get a 20% discount and save 15% on shipping.

We can add to our order until they ship it around mid February and I should have all add-on orders by eve of Thu 2/11.  Since they’re selling out fast, sooner is better!

UPDATED listing of Bay Laurel Nursery fruit trees available as of 2/3/16 AM:

Continue Reading

Our Bay Laurel Nursery bareroot fruit and nut tree order

I meant to post sooner, but due to ordering problems (described below), a snowstorm, a day without internet service and our co-op pickup, I got seriously delayed.

So here are the 25 fruit and nut trees we ordered and hopefully they will be shipped around 2/15/16.

High Desert Gardening Club members, friends and neighbors can add to our order to get a 20% discount off trees and shipping is about $6 per tree: Continue Reading

Add to our bare root fruit tree order for discounts

Fruit Trees Ordering Info

We’ll probably order from Bay Laurel Nursery at https://baylaurelnursery.com/ They have a TON of info online and so many varieties. However, as they are out of stock on many trees already, I’m also looking at Peaceful Valley http://www.groworganic.com.

Bay Laurel Nursery DISCOUNTSmost trees are $22 to $28, semi dwarf trees cost more than full size trees and multi grafted trees cost quite a bit more.

The following discounts apply to trees only – Fruit, Flowering and Nut:

  • 5 to 10 – 5% off
  • 11 to 15 – 10% off
  • 16 to 20 – 15% off
  • 21 or more – 20% off

SHIPPING: $25 for ONE tree, or $6.50 per tree if ordering 4 or more.

Shipping Discounts on Trees

  • For orders of 10 or more trees, 10% off shipping charges
  • For orders of 20 or more trees, 15% off shipping charges

CHILL HOURS

I read http://www.davewilson.com/product-information-general/special-topics/fruit-tree-chilling-requirement and it’s so complicated, I decided to see what does well in Meadview (see http://highdesertpermaculture.org/blog/2015/11/25/happy-thanksgiving-and-pics-of-meadview-fruit-trees/ for some pics) and I looked them up at Bay Laurel Nursery:

Babcock Peach – Semi-dwarf

Longtime favorite white fleshed, freestone peach. Sweet and juicy, aromatic, subacid. Ripens mid July. Widely adapted: low chilling requirement, yet not early blooming. [important here because we often have late hard freezes.] 250-300 hrs. Self-fruitful. Available on Cit. $27.95

Granny Smith Apple – Semi-dwarf

From New Zealand. Large, late, green, all-purpose, very popular apple. Crisp, tart, excellent keeper. Requires long summer; thrives in hot climates. Prolonged bloom; good pollenizer for other apples. Ripens in Oct./Nov. 500 hours or less. Self-fruitful. Available on M111. $26.95

So I’m looking at trees with similar chill requirements and we’d like to get a Babcock Peach. With the Granny Smith ripening in October / November I’m concerned about freezes. We are at 3800 ft elevation, Meadview is a few hundred feet lower. I’m sure we have quite a few more chill hours than Meadview.

I just talked to the owner of the Babcock Peach and he got most of his trees from Willis Orchard and the Babcock came from the Home Depot (he got lucky!).  Unfortunately, he has no idea which rootstock he has for any of his trees.  While the Babcock did so well last year, a few years ago he got almost no peaches because we had a late hard frost.  And that’s why one should have SEVERAL fruit trees.

I also looked at Peaceful Valley trees and at http://www.groworganic.com/peach-muir-semi-dwarf.html they list a peach with 600 chill hours as growing well in the Central Valley, Cal. Isn’t it colder here than in the Central Valley?

And unfortunately, Peaceful Valley also sold out of many varieties already.

ROOTSTOCK – the most important criteria and why I’ll NEVER buy a fruit tree at the Home Depot or Walmart again.

Bay Laurel’s Babcock Peach rootstock:

Citation (Cit.)

Peaches and nectarines dwarfed to eight to fourteen feet, apricots and plums dwarfed to twelve to eighteen feet. Very tolerant of wet soil, but not drought tolerant (induces early dormancy in dry soil) so needs very regular water in hot climates. A top dressing of mulch can help maintain soil moisture. Resists root-knot nematodes. Induces heavy bearing at a young age. Very winter hardy. Strong and well anchored. Pat. No. 5112 (Zaiger)

I called Bay Laurel and found out that they also had the Babcock Peach on Lovell rootstock, but it’s already sold out! They recommend the Lovell rootstock for our area:

Lovell (Lov.)

Vigorous, standard rootstock for plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, prunes, almonds. More tolerant of wet soils than Nemaguard, also more cold hardy [we get single digit temps every few years]. Susceptible to nematodes in sandy soils. Provides good anchorage and high degree of disease resistance. Unpruned tree height of standard varieties 15-25 feet. Size can be controlled further with summer pruning.

They MIGHT be able to get a few more on Lovell rootstock. Didn’t think that they’d be sold out already!

POLLINATER REQUIRED OR SELF-FRUITFUL?

Obviously, you won’t get fruit if you don’t have a pollinator UNLESS the tree is self-pollinating.

WARRANTY

Bay Laurel:

If, after following the enclosed planting instructions, your plants do not leaf out and grow, we will replace them one time, the following season, provided you pay the cost of shipping and handling.

WE DO NOT GUARANTEE FIGS OR PECANS.”

Both Peaceful Valley and Bay Laurel have a June 1 deadline to report dead trees for replacement the following season.

I can see already that we’ll be ordering again as soon as they start taking orders (November for Bay Laurel.)

If you’re interested to add to our order now or in fall, please post here!

Also, we plan on ordering more berries, kiwi, figs etc. from Hartmann’s, here is last year’s order info:

Add to our wholesale berry, fruit and nut tree orders

Schedule of local gardening events

By local I mean Mohave County and Southern Nevada.  So many workshops and Bob Morris just started the new Meetup  Las Vegas Desert Horticulture with the first meeting tomorrow.  The Kingman Dig It Community Garden is very active, the Master Gardeners have workshops  and the Kingman Home Steaders have a seed exchange coming up.

For a listing of events please check:

http://highdesertfood.org/forum/local-gardening-events/

Mohave County Master Gardener classes starting next week

I took the class last year and I’m SO glad I did! I met great instructors and I joined the Kingman Master Gardeners. I learned a lot in class and at MG outings and as an active Master Gardener Associate I can audit classes for free. While I hate to have to be in Kingman by 8:30 AM, I already signed up for 4 classes. Hopefully the class will be in the afternoon next year (they alternate) as there’s so much to learn.

I posted the class schedule and registration form at

http://highdesertfood.org/forum/local-gardening-events/mohave-county-master-gardener-classes/#p94

I’m scheduled to talk about PERMACULTURE at a MG workshop in June and I’ll be asking for YOUR help with that. What exactly IS permaculture?

We’ve been incredibly busy this winter and I haven’t been posting much, but I’ll definitely make an effort to update regularly about MG workshops as well as our projects.

Bob Morris free fruit tree pruning classes in Las Vegas

Instead of meeting for our regular monthly gardening club meeting we’ll attend the fruit tree pruning class on Saturday 12/19/15 in Las Vegas.   Bob Morris taught two of the Master Gardener classes in Kingman this spring and he’s extremely knowledgeable.

We’re leaving Meadview around 6:45 am and we still have a couple of seats in the truck available, so please let me know if you’re interested in riding with us.

You can also attend the class on quite a few other days, so if you plan on going to Vegas before Christmas, check it out:

Continue Reading

Happy Thanksgiving and pics of Meadview fruit trees

A neighbor sent me pics of their fruit trees and I can’t wait for our bare root trees to arrive!

We’ll be placing our order on time for delivery as soon as they start shipping.  If you’d like to add to our order, please join us at a High Desert Gardening Club meeting or contact me directly.

2015-6--Babcock-Peaches

2015-6--Babcock-Peaches-harvest

I love peaches!  We have a volunteer peach tree in our hoophouse, probably from a peach pit in the compost.  We’ll take the plastic off next spring and turn the hoophouse area into a garden.

Continue Reading