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I know, I know, pies are
meant to be round. But this Thanksgiving, pies are squared (or at least
rectangular). In the past, I've carefully carried pies out across our
floodplain...only to find specks of mud atop my perfect crust or
meringue once we reached our destination. Not this year! Instead, I've
upgraded to lidded casserole dishes...which have the added benefit of
making a very deep-dish pie.
In an earlier post, I teased you by saying that next year's high-density
experiment will veer off in an entirely new direction. But, really, it's
the same experiment...just with a different species of tree.
There are a few downsides to high-density pear
plantings that aren't a factor when similar strategies are used on apples. First, the
fruits on high-density pear trees tend to be on the small side, and pear
rootstocks also aren't as precocious as those used to dwarf apples. As a
result, the high-density pear researchers found that, even when
planting feathered trees, you really shouldn't expect your first small
pear crop until the third year after planting, and major production
won't begin until the fourth year. If you're starting with rootstocks that you
graft at home, you should add another year onto that figure, meaning
that we probably won't see any pears from our planned row until about
live deep down in a valley (known locally as a holler) where we seldom
feel breezes and even less seldom are faced with strong winds. So...I
get lazy. I lay down cardboard kill mulches
with just a rock or two to weigh the sheets down (if that), and this
fall I minimized the number of bricks holding down the sides of our quick hoops to a mere six per 15-foot span.
The trick to pulling
honeysuckle vines from tall trees is pressure.
chicken-lovers among you will be thrilled to hear that I'm celebrating
Thanksgiving early by putting my chicken books on sale! But before you
go nodding off, you can get the first book without plunking down a cent
--- The Working Chicken is currently free on Smashwords and at Barnes & Noble.
Find out why hard-nosed homesteaders don't name their chickens and much
more in this photo-rich introduction to backyard chicken care.
This is the first year we've
trained Huckleberry and Strider to be good in the morning.
Although it's a little premature to count our two-year-old high-density apple experiment
as a success (since frost nipped all of the blooms this spring), I'm
feeling very positive about the system. Planting the apple trees close
together allows me to try out lots of different varieties, which in turn
makes it easy to select varieties that resist cedar apple rust and our other local bugaboos. The high-density row doesn't take up much precious garden space, and the summer pruning (although frequent) is simple and fun. No wonder Mark and I chose to plant two more high-density apple rows this fall!
I've read lots of good and bad about espaliers (my third high-density apple experiment), so I earmarked only one tree for this final endeavor.
I settled on an informal design set against the south side of our front
porch and began by bending the young tree so the top was nearly
horizontal. As watersprouts inevitably pop up from the flattened trunk,
I'll probably bend them at a 45-degree angle to create a type of lattice
pattern...or whatever seems to make sense from the growth pattern of the
tree. Since I'm far from confident that my espalier will thrive,
though, I chose our Chestnut Crab for the experiment ---after all, I'm
mostly growing this sweet crabapple variety out of sentimental attachment to a similar
tree of my youth, so I won't feel too bad if I don't get high yields.
I was a little worried about having the goats grazing on oats so close to our new apple trees, but it seems like they're not interested in anything with bark yet.
So, my goats-in-the-woods experiment
lasted all of about two hours. I let the girls loose, settled down to
write...and soon heard Artemesia yelling at the top of her lungs.
Abigail had circled around to the part of our boundary that has the
lowest fence and had hopped right over, but our doeling's stubby little
legs didn't allow her to follow. I guess it's a good thing that
Artemesia is part Nubian since there was no missing her anguished yells
as she was left behind.
Or maybe our doeling was just telling on her big sister? Either way, I
pulled Abigail out of the garden before she could do any damage, then I
stuffed both goats back into the pasture with the honeysuckle trees shown above.
Next, I decided to try tethering Abigail
on the far side of the starplate coop. I figured that Artemesia would
stay close to her companion, and that everyone would be happy. So when I
heard non-Nubian yelling I guessed that our doe must have gotten her
chain hung up. Nope. Artemesia had decided to wander far afield in
search of honeysuckle, and her big sister was having a fit at being left
alone. So, once again, I stuffed the girls back into the pasture for
safe keeping. I guess they're stuck eating hay
now except when I take them out on monitored walks...unless I come up
with another supposedly bright technique for letting them run wild in
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