Even in the Southern United States Old Man Winter can take it’s toll on morale. Usually for me, winter blues are offset by well placed distractions like the thrill of another season of football coming to it’s climactic season finale, or the opening of hunting season with it’s allure of fresh venison. Unfortunately this year my football team had a less than banner year and I have yet to go hunting.
Looking through seed catalogs with the same enthusiasm and dreamy eyes of a teen thumbing through a playboy, I am teased with the beautiful green pictures of spring plantings and summer growth. Ah, but there is hope for immediate gratification, something to do during the dreary cold days. We can plant more fruit trees.
I added a few more trees on the hill this winter. Here a few pictures:
Our soil where were planting fruit trees was originally cleared from a thicket of vines, briars,scrub oaks and thin pines. A forestry mulcher to clear so no top soil was removed. We were left with about 8- 12 inches of wood chip covered, slightly acidic, dark soil Below that there is red clay, lots and lots of very dense. mineral rich, clay. You can see in some of the pictures the clay piled beside our planting holes. Our method was to dig a hole twice the size as normally recommended by the grower. Usually we go down 3 food deep but only 6-10 inches to each side of the the root ball. We remove that lower 2 feet of clay and replace it with a mixture of mulch and partly broken down wood chips. We then add a small bit of the clay back in for minerals. Rake around the tree with a gentle slope and add untreated hay around the base to protect the soil and keep it moist.
The boys love being outside almost as much as I do. I’m fortunate that they will do just about anything I show them how to do….if they can? The teaching is so worth it. Sometimes, as a father and teacher I can get frustrated, but I have to remember that they are the main reason I do what I do. So if we have to go find a shovel that was left at the top secret hide away fort in the woods , so be it. At least they are using a shovel and in the woods right. We can always work on the art of putting stuff back. I may need to come back and read this post again the next time something goes missing and my blood pressure goes up.
I was really impressed that they remember some from the last trees we planted. Also my three year old, after the first tree, knew exactly what needed to be done next. One day I hope they will be standing next to these big mature trees as they eat some fresh fruit telling thier kids about how they and grandpa planted them.
In one of the pictures behind where the plum tree was planted you can see a few post holes for a gate and fence. I went ahead and used the top dirt from the hole where the post was going as back fill for the fruit tree. In the post hole I use sand and concrete for better strength and drainage.
You can see our solar clothes dryer in the background. You just can;t beat the way sheets and towels smell from the clothes line. The power bill reduction doesn’t hurt either.