My first wish for my farm was to plant an orchard. It didn’t have to be huge. I just wanted a place where we could go out and pick some fresh fruit that would ripen in the summer sun.
Fruit trees take a long time to grow and bear fruit, so when we first moved here, determining where was a priority. After a year of watching the sun move across the land, I decided to plant fruit trees in a small area on the east side of the house. The area is sunny most of the time and runs along the centre line of a shallow hillside. About ten fruit trees can be planted in this space. Variety is key, especially for peaches and nectarines, because I never know what will affect the growth of a single variety.
I use the “Recommended Fruit and Nut Varieties” guide to select varieties for warm climates. For us in the East, we reliably get about 800 hours of cooling time, although some years it has been as low as 500 hours. Cooling time is the amount of cold below 45°F that the buds on a plant need to perceive in order to bloom. As a result, some freezes are shorter while others are slightly higher, helping to increase the chances that the crop will withstand an insufficient or delayed amount of freezing.
That’s what’s poised to happen this year. “Tropical Beauty and Sunraycer are the only two so far to have reached reproductive age. I bought the bigger three gallon instead of the smaller whips. During the late March freeze, we froze off all the open flowers on “Tropical Beauty”. The buds on “Sunraycer” are just blooming and I’m glad to see the harvest starting in a few weeks.