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

Fruit tree autopsy

Baby apple

I've been spending a lot of time ogling my apple trees, watching the unexpected fruit swell under the summer sun. But everything isn't rosy in the mini-orchard.....

Dead apple tree

We had three tree deaths this winter, all individuals who simply failed to leaf out as planned when the cold weather broke. It's tempting to blame the losses on variety. The specimen above (Pristine), for example, barely grew last summer due to a terrible case of cedar-apple rust...even though its fellows just showed a few spotted leaves then shrugged off the fungal disease.

Dead espaliers

However, I'm now feeling like the ultimate deciding factor in who thrived and who perished was location. The two trees shown above, like the one in the previous photo, are the individuals closest to our north-facing hillside. And they just happen to be the only trees who perished among all eleven of the 2014 graftees. Hmmm.... I guess that permafreeze, high shade zone just isn't fruit-tree friendly. Good to know, and good to learn on home-grafted trees that cost us no more than a buck apiece.

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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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I guess you could call it a "pomopsy" :)
Comment by Lucy Sun May 22 08:01:55 2016

I'm curious as to how you have your orchard set up. Are you espaliering your fruit trees? Why do you have them growing around what appears to be 4" gray PVC pipe?

As for cedar apple rust (CAR) - oy! - the bane of my existence. I did download your chart from the Arkansas Extension Service and picked the Delicious variety to try since it is supposed to be "very resistant" to CAR. Then a neighbor advised that he had both golden and red Delicious trees and one of them (don't remember which) was filled with CAR while the other shrugged it off. Maybe it has to do with micro-climate?

Comment by NaYan Sun May 22 09:14:58 2016

Lucy --- Good call! :-)

NaYan --- We are espaliering some of our trees, but the ones with pipes are our high-density apples. Dwarf trees trained to a tall spindle shape tend to need staking to prevent the trees from bending down during heavy fruit loads.

I agree that location has a big impact on fungal diseases. More sun = drier plants = fewer fungi!

Comment by anna Sun May 22 19:38:30 2016

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