Friday, October 7, 2011

One Apple and One Hazelnut

In early May we planted apple trees and hazelnut trees. The leaves had not begun to show on the trees in the yard. We were having a cold Spring. We chose a sheltered area near the house for our orchard. It seemed to offer the trees the best protection from the weather and the wild.
You have to be optimists to plant trees in North Dakota. Lucky for me, that day I had a couple of tree loving optimists hanging around to dig and pack. We did our best to do it properly with large holes and weed barrier to protect the tender roots. Our tree consultant, Bill, told me not to prune them the first year as nutrients gathered by the leaves were very important to the long term health of the trees. We planted about a dozen apple trees of different varieties and three hazelnut trees.
 The goal, we set that day is: 
To eat an apple and a hazelnut from a tree that we planted. 
We are not planning to go into business. It is easy to be optimistic on a Spring planting day. We wanted to be realistic. Bushels of fruit would be a dream. But if we could raise just one juicy apple and  taste one GriggsDakota hazelnut, we would be happy. We could each take a taste. 
It isn't all we dream, but it would be enough. 
The wildlife make starting trees very difficult. Through the Summer I used deer repellant in the area, plus there is lots activity in the yard every day. That, combined with good luck resulted in a healthy start for the trees. 
Now, the Summer has passed and we will do what we can to coax the trees through the winter. 
I ordered 5 foot Tree Tubes from Plantra. The tubes are available from other sources and probably at garden stores as well. They are vented and the flexible branches on the trees folded easily into the tubes. They are fastened to wooden stakes. 
If deer are hungry and come into the yard, we hope this will keep the trees safe. It also discourages mice that live under the snow, as well as other hungry creatures, from eating the bark. We have the long cold Winter ahead which brings a variety of problems for trees. The bright sun reflecting off snow is a common  cause of tree loss. The tubes also protect the trees from that reflection while allowing ventilation and light to reach the tree.
A couple of the trees are already peeking out of the top of the tubes. We chose the five foot tubes because we hope that the deer will not chew off the top of the tree. White tail deer do stand on their hind legs to get fruit from trees, but hopefully will leave our little treetops alone. As we prepare for Winter, we think of Spring and hope.
Our orchard is not beautiful to look at, but an optimist must visualize the goal:  
One apple and one hazelnut grown from these trees in GriggsDakota.

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