The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bud break

Peach bud showing red.Plant a fruit tree and learn patience.  You'll tend them and love them for three years, or four years, or five years before tasting the first sampling of their fruit.  But then the harvest will steadily grow, until within a decade you have buckets and barrels full of apples, pears, peaches, and plums.

At least that's the dream.  Our first stab at making it a reality failed when we planted fruit trees directly into our wet clay soil and ended up with so many dead sticks.  So we planted again in 2007, this time in raised beds, starting small as we figured out what we'd done wrong, then adding more trees in the following years.
Budbreak in cherry bud
It was really too early to see any fruits last year, but profuse blooms on our oldest peach made me hope for a harvest.  Then a late freeze wiped out every bloom, and I went back to pruning and training and mulching with no reward.

My fruit tree spreadsheet, though, says that this year may be different.  Peaches and dwarf cherries can fruit at three years, and our two oldest trees are coated with bumpy flower buds.  In fact, even our two year old peach and nectarine are similarly laden, though I refuse to get my hopes up about premature fruit this year.

I've been watching the flower buds all winter with avid curiosity, and Sunday the inevitable happened.  A week of summer-like temperatures tempted peaches to go from green bud to red bud stage (top picture), while the cherry buds actually burst open (second picture), revealing the individual flower buds within.  Finally, I reached the nectarine, planted in the sunniest spot against the side of the barn.  I saw a hint of brilliant pink in one bud and just kept photographing my way around the tree until...

Nectarine flower

...a fully opened bloom!

I can't resist throwing in a few more shots of the signs of spring that have been bursting out in the garden this week.  The dandelions are now in full bloom, and the comfrey (top right) has leaves bigger than my hand, ready to take back their job of mulching the nectarine.  Elderberry leaves (bottom left) have been growing slowly for weeks --- these seem to be the first spring tree leaves on the farm.  Finally, the columbine has really caught hold and looks to have bloom buds on the way.  Spring!

Dandelion flower, comfrey leaves, columbine leaves, and elderberry leaves

Spring is in the air and chicks are in the brooder.  Get them off to a healthy start with our homemade chicken waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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