We took the day off for some
Thanksgiving day fun.
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.
I hope your pies are similarly mud-free! Happy Thanksgiving!
I was skeptical about how
well the shapening
stone on the Oregon
battery powered chainsaw
would work, but I've used it several times now and it really makes the
chain sharper with just a short pull on the sharpening lever.
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.
orchards have become big business in the U.S., but at this time, pears
are mostly grown in a more traditional, spaced-out setting. However, one
report I read mentioned that high-density pear plantings are already
common in Europe, suggesting that close plantings can be appropriate for
this other pome as well. Since I have several additional pear varieties that I want to try out
but not enough space for several additional full-size trees, I figured
--- why not experiment with a high-density planting for pears?
The best option for
high-density pear trees appears to be a 4-foot spacing with the limbs
tied down to 45 degrees below the horizontal. To make this work, the
New York State Horticultural Society experimenters recommend using
semidwarf rootstocks like OHF87, which
appeared to be quite acceptable in high-density plantings during the
years of their study (and, the author thought, most likely also for the
life span of the orchard). I ended up buying OHF513 instead for my own
planting since the nursery I wanted to order from uses this
similarly-sized rootstock rather than OHF87, so I guess in a few years
I'll be able to report on how well OHF513 does for high-density
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
But what could be more
fun than grafting five little pear trees and setting aside another
garden row for planting out the young trees at this time next year?
Nothing! So, of course, I have to give it a shot.
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.
But I've noticed recently that big changes in temperature do bring
winds, even down here in our holler. And those roaring winds toss
cardboard around the yard and whip right through lazily built quick
hoops. The results are shown above.
When I went out to fix my quick hoops Monday afternoon, though, I still didn't
increase the brick count. With one wind rushing through our valley
already this winter, chances are we won't see another until March.
The trick to pulling
honeysuckle vines from tall trees is pressure.
Pull too quick and the leaves
can strip off.
A slow and steady pace seems
to yield the best results.
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.
If that introduction tempts your appetite, my more in-depth series, Permaculture Chicken,
includes three books bound to make your chicken-keeping adventure run
more smoothly. And each ebook is marked down to 99 cents this week ---
buy them all and save 74%! Here are the links: Permaculture Chicken: Incubation Handbook, Pasture Basics, and Thrifty Chicken Breeds. Maybe next year you can grow your own free-range chicken for Thanksgiving!
Thanks for reading! And if you like what you read, why not make my day by leaving a review?
This is the first year we've
trained Huckleberry and Strider to be good in the morning.
They've had to sleep on the
porch at night due to Huckleberry's problem of waking everybody up at
the crack of dawn.
With this new hallway door we
block off his chance to be a morning cat.
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!
With this second
planting, I'm experimenting in three different directions. Two years
ago, I mostly chose trees grafted onto Bud 9, M26, and Geneva 11
rootstock, meaning that the trees are true dwarfs, but I also included
two trees on a semi-dwarf (MM111)
rootstock. The semidwarf trees grew very well...but they've already gotten
quite a bit bigger than their neighbors. So, when I grafted onto
for some of this year's new trees, I expanded the within-row spacing to 6
feet, hoping that the additional elbow room will help our semidwarf
achieve their full potential while still toeing the high-density line. I
also plan to train the MM111 trees' limbs down considerably below the
horizontal this time around, which I was a bit more cautious about in
previous years but which I've since decided is definitely a good option
high-density apples in the backyard.
I also opted to branch
out and try yet another rootstock this year --- M7, which will produce
trees midway in size between the true dwarfs on Bud 9 and the semidwarfs
on MM111. My M7 trees went into the ground at 53-inch spacing but will
otherwise be treated the same as the MM111 trees. I'll be curious
to see, over the next few years, which rootstock turns out to be the best
fit for high-density plantings on our farm. It's a bit of a tradeoff ---
the more dwarfing the rootstock, the more precocious the tree, meaning
that we'll get more fruits faster. But, at the same time, truly dwarf
rootstocks have a hard time growing if you don't give them constant TLC,
and a few of the trees in my original planting (on Geneva-11 or Bud 9
rootstock) did fail to thrive.
Hopefully, either the M7 or MM111 trees (or both) will provide a happy
middle ground --- apple trees that do pretty well without watering and
other bonus attention, but that also produce within a few years after
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'll keep you posted on
all three new plantings in the years ahead...and hopefully will be able
to report in summer 2015 about our first big crop from our older
high-density planting. In the meantime, stay tuned for another post
about next year's high-density experiment, which will veer off in yet
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.
Didn't check back soon
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