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

Preparing for the plum

I lined the bed with newspapers then filled it with compost.In my natural habitat, I am a frugivore, so I have slowly been building an orchard around our trailer.  My trees have faced varying success --- to be totally truthful, I haven't done a very good job with them in the past. 

It all started three years ago when we planted an orchard before moving to the land.  Apples, pears, peaches, and plums were pretty much totally eaten up by deer that summer.  Since moving in, we've continued to battle deer, which nibble on our apples and pears whenever I turn my back.  We've had better luck with peaches and nectarines, though, which may just be because the deer don't like them.  Or it may be because I read somewhere that peaches need drainage and decided to plant the
m in raised beds to battle our clay soil.

This winter, we're only putting in one fruit tree, a plum which Daddy ordered extremely cheaply from his extension office.  The poor tree got caught up in the holiday mails, and even though Daddy sent it priority mail it arrived a week later with dry roots and a bent top.  I soaked it overnight, then heeled it in while I prepared its new home.  The plum will be replacing a wild plum by the barn which finally bore this past spring in time for me to discover that the large stone and skimpy, untasty flesh made for a fruit even I won't eat.

The ground beneath the wild plum is the most recently reclaimed portion of the yard.  Baby plum trees and wild blackberries formed a thicket threaded through by Japanese honeysuckle --- a mass even the chicken tractors wouldn't quite knock down.  I skipped the area each time I mowed, but Mark bushhogged it with the lawn mower one day last summer, knocking down all of the tall growth. 

So yesterday I lined the bottom of my plum's new raised bed with deep layers of newspaper to prevent the honeysuckle from twining back up around our new tree, then scoured the yard for logs to form the sides of the bed.  After filling the bed with half frozen compost, I called it a day --- Mark was visiting a friend and there's no way I'm cutting down the old plum by myself.  Stay tuned for part two, the planting of the plum.

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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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