Planting Fruit Trees

Fall is the best time to plant fruit trees – planting in very late summer or early Fall gives the trees time to settle in before the winter cold sets in. Here’s how we got started with fruit trees on our homestead. Now, about four years later, our trees are loaded each year and we really enjoy a good Apple harvest!

One year, just after Christmas I got a phone call from the local real estate office. They do a Christmas present drive to help out kids in the area have a better Christmas.

Every year, we buy a couple of kids presents and drop them off at the real estate office. They turn around and deliver the gifts to kids who otherwise might not have much under their Christmas tree.

As a bonus, for each present you drop off you can put your name in for draws. The prizes come from local vendors.

I got a call saying I had won a $100 gift certificate for one of the local nurseries. I was thrilled and began to think of the possibility of getting one or two fruit trees.

 

apple trees, fruit trees

 

We went out and talked to the nursery and here is what I ended up bringing home. Two apple trees that ended up costing me a total of $40, because I used the $100 gift certificate.

The knowledgable fellow at the nursery suggested these trees – there are 4 different kind of apples on each tree. And the tree is hardy to this area (which is something that is very important here where the Winters can get so cold).

 

apple tree, fruit tree

 

I don’t remember what the different apple varieties are, although each branch is labelled. Suffice it to say that if we treat these trees well, we should have a good bounty of different apples.

 

planting fruit trees, apples trees

 

So, in the Fall we got them planted. That hole in the above picture may not look very big or deep, but it is. It is easily 2 times the width and depth of the fruit tree itself. This is a very important step.

Prepare your hole well! You only get one chance at it – make sure you dig a deep and wide hole!

You can see that the natural soil here is clay, just by looking at the picture.

 

fruit tree, apple tree, planting fruit trees

 

This picture above gives a better idea of just how deep that hole is. I have added lots of very well composted manure already. Then I set the tree in the hole and stand back. I am trying to determine whether I have

a) dug the hole deep enough

b) added a deep enough layer of manure

This is very important – you want the tree to sit at the same level as it was sitting in the pot.

The picture is a bit deceiving – don’t look at the top of the pot – look at the trunk of the fruit tree. It is at a good level here for planting.

 

bone meal, planting fruit trees, apple trees

 

I removed the fruit tree from the hole and put in 3 good handfuls of Bonemeal. You only get once chance to fortify the hole, make sure you do this before setting your tree in the ground.

 

planting fruit trees, scoring fruit tree roots

 

I’ve taken the Apple tree out of the pot – can you see how rootbound it is? I never just plop plants in the hole like this, as usually the plant is rootbound. I like to either loosen up the rootball by prying it apart with my fingers or using a shovel, like I did with this Apple tree.

I score the rootball all the way around. What I want is for the roots to be free, it is OK to slice them with your shovel. This way, once planted the roots will begin to spread and grow.

 

how to plant fruit trees, apple trees

 

Finally, in goes the fruit tree. I then backfill the hole with more well composted manure. This apple tree is already staked and we will leave the stakes in for at least a year.

After the backfilling, I make a “well” so that any water the tree gets will not run off. In the past I have obviously watered fruit trees too much. The nursery fellow told me to water it when I first plant it. Then water it once a week if the weather is very hot. If there is some rain, water the tree once every two weeks.

Letting the tree roots dry out between watering will encourage it to send out feeder roots. It will become settled in faster and grow better.

The finishing step is to put a palmful of tree and shrub fertilizer around the base of the tree. Normally, we don’t use fertilizers of any kind here, except for the composted manure. With these trees, I was advised to use some and I think that is a good idea.

Hopefully these two Apple trees will contribute nicely to the other fruits we grow here, including Raspberries, Strawberries, Rhubarb, Saskatoon berries and Blueberries! It’s great that we don’t have to buy fruit at the Grocery Store! Consider planting a fruit tree or two today!

 

 

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How to Make Pickled Eggs

If you’ve got hens, there’s a chance you have a lot of eggs on hand right now. Chickens lay so well at this time of year and it doesn’t take long to get several cartons stacked up. We think there’s nothing better than a pickled egg or two with lunch or with a beer as a late afternoon nibble. I make my own and it is really easy. Pickling eggs  takes only a few minutes to prepare and put in the fridge. They make for a great quick snack or even a side dish at dinner.

 

 

Make sure you are not using super fresh eggs. If you get farm eggs, just set them in your fridge for 2 weeks.

Here’s the reason:  the eggs need to be about 2 weeks old. Grocery store eggs are NEVER as fresh as those from the chicken farmer, so you can likely use storebought eggs right away. Your eggs need to be aged a bit because, if they are too fresh, you will take a bunch of the egg white away when you peel them. They’ll look awful too with gouges of white missing. You want them to be pretty and smooth.

Here’s the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

12 extra large eggs

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons pickling spice

1 cayenne or habanero pepper

1 clove garlic, crushed ( we use at least 5 cloves in each jar because we love it so much)

1 bay leaf

Place eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool and peel.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix together the vinegar, water and pickling spice. Bring to a boil and mix in the garlic and bay leaf. Remove from heat.

Fill a quart mason jar with boiling water, let sit while the eggs are boiling. When ready to put eggs in jar, just dump the water. Put in your eggs and fill the containers with the hot vinegar mixture, seal and refrigerate 8 to 10 days before serving.

You have to give it time, so the pickly flavour can get right through the eggs. I put the date on the lid, so we know when they were made.

If you want to make the flavour milder, you may want to use 1 tbsp pickling spice and skip the pepper for your first batch. You can always spice things up more when you make your second batch, should you want them a bit zingier.

 

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