My ‘Did-dah’ moment

My ‘Did-dah’ moment

I have been working on a project for a very long time.  When I say working on it, I mean thinking about it.  And when I say thinking about it, it is more of a guilt induced frenzy full of woulda, coulda and shoulda.  I thought making the family give it to me as a Mother’s Day present would make it happen faster but alas no.  Mother’s Day was in May!  I still needed to drive the thing and a with an extraordinarily wet season and a full plate for computer gardening, it didn’t happen outside of my thoughts.

Something I never thought I’d see in my garden beside the sea – blossoms!

Over the last few weeks, we gave it a good push and I’m happy to say the project is done!  I have four new fruit trees, set up in an espalier style.  Seriously, looking back I don’t know why it took so long, but I’m enjoying my new ‘just get it done’ attitude and I have loads more to tell you about.  But for now, the trees are the star of the show.

The grand plan
The grand plan devised months ago to fit as many fruit trees as I could in a small space.

In the old garden I planted trees with a do or die philosophy and for the most part they did.  Some died because they didn’t like wet feet, but all in all it was a marvellous orchard with about 30 fruit trees in it.  I miss that orchard; it would be considered mature now at 15 years old and would be fruiting well.

Post hole digging
Sand is quite easy to dig and we had five deep holes in no time.

So, when we moved here by the coast I took the same approach and planted about a dozen fruit trees.  They didn’t do.  The whole lot died.  I naively thought it was a one off and repeated the process the following year throwing good money after bad.  I paid more attention to what went wrong and the brutal spring winds straight of the coast and laden with salt.  It was like standing in the waves and getting knocked off your feet and then get hit by another wave before you can get back up again you get hit by another wave, and then another.  And that is what happened to the trees – too many storms.  They all died.

The post stood standing for quite some time before any trees were introduced to the garden.

That was four and five years ago.  I’ve taken my time to think about the situation before making another attempt.  This time I decided to tuck the trees behind the wind break halfway down the garden by the pumpkin patch.  There isn’t much room there, so I had to choose my trees wisely.

Fruit trees
The unlucky trees selected to grow in my harsh environment.

With a bit of creativity, I managed to fit four trees into the gap, using the espalier system.  My theory goes that by espaliering the trees, I can reduce the space they need and keep them short enough to fit behind the wind break, so they won’t get their tops blown off.  And we don’t need a full tree of fruit, we’re soon to be empty nesters and can only eat so much!  Another advantage is the sand can get really hot and so the poor pumpkins begin to struggle when things hot up – now they can languish beneath the shade of fruit trees.  I’d say that is a win win.

Watering in trees
The trees were well watered in to give them a good start. Irrigation will keep them hydrated going forward.

The trees I selected was a Hawera Plum which is self-fertile.  I don’t imagine there is anyone close enough around us crazy enough to try growing plums in our hostile coastal environment and I don’t have room for any more trees.  Then I got a Red Gold Nectarine and Queen Peach which are both freestone and a Cox Orange because my Grandad used to grow them, and it reminds me of him.  That should be enough to keep us in summer fruit – all going well.

The sand is more fertile than you would think, but to avoid creating a planting hole that was too rich I added a little blood and bone to the planting soil, but put the nutrient rich compost and other beneficial nutrients to the top to act as a mulch that will eventually seep its goodness down to the roots.

For the structure I had 5 large posts cemented in the layout of the 5 on dice. They are a bit overkill, but they didn’t look that big in the lumber yard!  The wires are strung from the outside to the inside like 4 spokes of a wheel giving the trees support to be trained up.  The other advantage is I can wrap extra wind break material around the outside of the structure during the spring for more protection against the storms that killed their predecessors.  We had a big storm the other day, and the blossoms on the plum tree stayed put which I’ll claim as a success.  At the other end of the season, I could wrap bird netting around the structure and keep it safe from sticky beaks.

The appropriate branches have been tied into the wires

I have also put irrigation at the base of the trees so all I need to do is connect the hose each week while they establish and in the heat of summer in years to come.

The final set up looks just like I had been thinking about for all those months,

All going well this well thought out attempt will come to fruition and give us a sweet reward.

Extra windbreak protection around the trees.
Extra windbreak protection around the trees.

Come again soon – there has been a lot going on in the garden.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

3 thoughts on “My ‘Did-dah’ moment

  1. Fruit trees grow like weeds for us. Seriously, we have always taken them for granted. The formerly vast orchards were what the Santa Clara Valley was famous for a long time ago. Tourists came out to see the bloom like they go to see the fall color of New England. (Very sadly, they are all gone now, and those who inhabit the Santa Clara Valley are generally uninterested in horticulture.) It is difficult to imagine that your garden would not be hospitable to fruit trees. It looks so sunny and comfy, and so much of the other vegetation is so happy. Of course, wind is not visible in pictures. The consequences of severe exposure are only visible afterward.

    1. I wish they grew like weeds here – I have killed so many trees in the last five years. It has been a steep and costly learning curve. We don’t have the wind all the time but when it comes it is brutal. : o)

      1. Goodness, I remember the corn. It was so sad. The stalks were so healthy, but thrashed. With minimal wind here, they grow perfectly vertically, but are not as healthy without copious irrigation! I do not grow it because it wants both more space and water than other vegetables.

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