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

Bud break 2012

Bud burst

The first Nanking cherry and plum flowers opened on March 14, and the rest of our fruit trees aren't far behind.  Here's my best guess about when our orchard was in a similar stage of bud break in previous years:

  • March 23, 2009.  (A late freeze wiped out all the blooms and we didn't get any fruit.)
  • April 3, 2010.  (Great harvest of peaches!)
  • March 22, 2011.  (Would have been a great harvest of peaches if not for brown rot.  We got two pears too.)

Australorp chicksSo, it looks like we're running about a week or two early --- not as bad as I'd feared.  In fact, now might be a good time for the fruit trees to go ahead and bloom since the ten day forecast looks like summer.  We'll just have to hope for no more freezes below the post-bloom critical temperature of 28 for the rest of the season.

The other photos in this post are totally unrelated.  But I have a hard time not throwing in gratuitous spring images.  Enjoy!

Mating toads

Our chicken waterer keeps our chicks healthy with POOP-free water.

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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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My peach is already finishing its flower cycle, but I'm right on the line between zones 7b/8. I was curious, do you have any pictures up on what a peach blossom looks like when it's just starting to set fruit? I'm really curious to see the progression.
Comment by Jessie : Improved Fri Mar 16 09:49:51 2012
You don't have to appologize for your unrelated photos. Those of us with nothing to look at but bare sticks and brown lawns are thankful for your gratuitousness (is that a word?). Bless you for helping me believe that things will be green again soon. The weather is warming here in Wyoming but the nights are still in the low to mid 20's so aside from a few blades of grass in protected spots there isn't much happeing yet. Besides, I will be depending on you and a few other blogs to supply my veggies garden and growing things images this spring as we are preparing to move (down south THANK GOD) and I will not be able to have even a tiny pitiful garden this year. Once again, thank you.
Comment by Becca Fri Mar 16 10:32:59 2012

What's your game plan if the temp is predicted to dip below 28? I think I saw a post about you throwing a blanket over a fruit tree at one point - what about wrapping trees in your quick hoop material? I ask because I'm currently figuring out our fruit tree selections, so this is particularly interesting to me right now.

~ Mitsy

Comment by mountainstead [] Fri Mar 16 11:27:41 2012

We tried not spraying last year and had some curculio damage to our plums and peaches as well as some black rot on our grapes. We are trying Neem oil this year first (already sprayed) as a dormant oil and we are considering to spray after petal drop to control the curculio damage.

I don't spray our vegetables but I consider the trees and vines more of a long term investment.

Do you spray anything or do you rely entirely on the plants natural resistance?

Comment by Brian Fri Mar 16 12:07:33 2012

Jessie --- Here's a shot of our peaches bursting out of their flowers.

peach development

Becca --- I'm glad you don't mind my gratuitous spring photos. Even though it's been a mild winter here, we're still glad to see greenery and flowers. Good luck with your move!

Mitsy --- I didn't have any luck wrapping our kitchen peach even when it was quite small --- the frost got through and killed the flowers. That said, the 28 degree critical temperature just kills 10% of the fruits post-bloom. Depending on what kind of fruit tree it is, you don't get 90% kill until 23 to 25 degrees. So, I figure even 26 or 27 probably just thins the fruits and saves me some work later.

Brian --- We don't spray anything on our fruit plants. The way I look at it, if I have to baby them just to keep the plants alive, I'm better off with a different variety. (That's why my apples are off to such a slow start --- I didn't realize at first that it was mandatory to choose varieties resistant to cedar apple rust.) I'm also willing to cut out bad spots and even scoop wormy centers out of fruits. But we're still in the early stages --- I can't be sure the total no-spray approach will work!

Comment by anna Fri Mar 16 13:15:25 2012

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