Adding Trees to the Rickabaugh Orchard

We stopped by Lowe’s in order to look for the tomato cages that we saw that they had online, which stated they were in store. We never found them, but we did find their newly stocked plant/tree section. We looked at the Rose of Sharons and they we $50.00 a piece. They are still on our list to purchase, but not this trip. Then we found 6 and 7 foot fruit trees for $24.98 a piece. So yes of course we purchased two different plum trees as well as two more different breeds of peach trees.

So our fruit tree count is now up to eleven. We have three raspberry starts, three blackberry starts, two grape vines, four strawberry bushes and six blueberry starts. Also we added 20 stalks of Asparagus this year. So of course we need to look into more veggies that you plant once and they come back every year. Reducing the need to seed save. Which I don’t mind, but less fuss is so much nicer.

I am worried about one of the blueberry bushes, it lost all of its leaves very early in the summer. We do have a great deal of beetles, aphids and squash bugs. I do know that the one apple tree did much better this year due to me collecting beetles and drowning them in soapy water, but I relaxed in my gathering of them because of other pressing matters in life. And we did notice that the one apple tree on the end has been stripped of the leaves from about the middle of the tree the whole way to the ground. I am sure it is the bugs that had previously been named.

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We have noticed that we are getting some more recent help with the extermination of some of the bothersome bugs. Below you can seen our recent pear tree guard. He or she is doing amazing! He or she by the way is completely alarmingly large. Close to three inches long from the tips of its back legs to the tips of its front legs. Get them bugs! Specifically please get the mosquitoes that leave quarter sized itchy welts all over me.

So putting in four new fruit trees took about three hours. We planted and watered. Put up posts and strung the support wires, all four of the support wires for this year. And then of course there was the much needed task of trimming the unwanted branches and training the remaining branches that get tied to the wires.

The first plum tree was extra hard for us to really get into the harsh trimming that espalier style requires. There are so very many beautiful little branches we want them all to survive. So the first tree took the longest. I also think that it also needed the most trimming out of the four trees. Closest to the berry patch we started with the plum trees and then worked our way up along the other fruit trees planted earlier in the spring, this way all three peach trees are in close proximity of each other.

You can see in the back row the Bing cherry tree which will have white flowers in the spring. It may look like it is not doing well but when purchased in February it was shipped bare root. No leaves, and not many branches at all and was the smallest of the trees. In the front row you can see the brand new to Rickabaugh Orchard, Santa Rosa Plum tree. The Santa Rosa Plum tree will also have white blooms in the spring. It is very interesting to see such different views of this plum. There are a few web pages/ orchard websites that will tell you that the Santa Rosa Plum is a self-pollinator. But on the back of the tag it states that cross-pollination with another plum variety is needed to produce quality fruit. Well because I would like it to produce fruit I wasn’t going to chance it and we also purchased the only other available plum at Lowes, a nice Methley Plum.

The Methley Plum also blooms white flowers as well in the spring. The nice part is that both of these plums have each other as good cross pollinators.

Next in the new row of fruit trees is the Early Elberta Peach. This peach tree is a self-pollinator as it states on the tag as well as on all the orchard websites that I have used to research if this is a good pick for our home. I have read that a great deal of self-pollinators do okay as fruit producers. I have also read that when a compatible tree, not necessarily the exact same breed of fruit tree is planted close by the trees produce larger and more plentiful amounts of fruit. Like the curl free peach tree which was planted in the spring and has light pink blooms, the Early Elbert Peach tree has dark pink and sometimes purple blooms in the spring.

The last new tree planted is a Hale Haven peach tree. Also a self-pollinator peach tree which does better close to other peach trees, it is planted closest to the road. This tree has light pink blooms in the spring time. We put this tree last in the line, this type of peach tree requires full sun and it will be getting the best sun out of all of the trees.

Here are photos of after trimming and tying of branches to the wires. It went pretty quick after the first tree, we felt more tired, done with the project, and more confident the trees would be perfectly fine.

Our very adorable Santa Rosa Plum tree planted and trimmed and beginning its new training of branch growth.

Our new little Methley Plum tree planted in the same row and trimmed and trained to the wires.

Very excited to show off our new Early Elberta Peach planted, trimmed and starting her training as well.

Lastly but not least of all the Hale Haven Peach tree planted, trimmed and on board with the branch training game.

RickabaughReviews is very nervous about all these new trees making it through their first winter here, but also approves of trees for the bees and trees for mother earth. oh yeah and finished T-Rex photos!

Gardening in June of 2020

It is very hard to work full time, part time and try to homestead as well.  We have made many orchard type additions this year to our little patch of land.  We have a total of 6 blueberry bushes in one of the flower beds, now known as the blueberry patch.  I have 4 different varieties.  I have four very small twigs- which are very affordable.  $10.00 a piece, but you have to be in it for the long haul.  The will probably not produce for at least another two years.  Then I splurged one day and got 2 full grown- already with a ton of blueberries loaded onto the bush.  At $27.00 a piece and with how well they are doing it was a great investment.  Unfortunately the two full grown blackberry bushes that also had berries and flowers on them and were purchased at the same time for the same price are completely dead.  With the whole virus lock down I am not sure if the nursery I got them at will accept them back.  I need just an hour to do a little research.

We visited my brother and his wife and switched flowers for starts and seeds.  I gave her lillies and cone flowers and spider wort and bee balm.  And she gave me loofah seeds, thyme, raspberry starts and sour dough starter along with much more.  Only one of the raspberry starts survived.  So the new berry patch is not doing the greatest, but there are other plants that are doing great this year.  such as my lavender.  It is going crazy!!!  I cut and dry at least once a week if not twice a week  and we are not talking one little tray.  For example, yesterday I nipped off one tenth of the flowers and it was 4 trays of just lavender tops drying.  Great for in soaps and sachets.  I have been giving some to the neighbors and they love it.

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Two years ago we moved to our current house and it had 4 fruit trees already semi-established.  What I mean by semi established, is that they were several years old when they were first planted , and have been in their current spot for several years now.  Our first summer we got zero fruit from any of the trees.  My husband said if they don’t produce net year they all get chopped down.  Thank goodness for the pear tree on the end.  Last year it gave us five pears.  I did a bunch of trimming, several times the last two years, the four trees were very large and not trimmed.  Since I really wanted more fruit trees I took the time to get some education. This included watching a few videos of how to prune to increase possibility of fruit.  What we didn’t know was that my random tree trimming actually gave them all a chance.  There is a trick to trimming fruit trees so that they produce more the next year.  It is not an instantaneous type of project.  You have to be able to have and enjoy the long game.  This spring the husband and I worked hard on trimming according to what we had learned.  When you find a sucker (a branch that shoots straight up) go to the bunch of leaves and count three leaves up and then trim.  We have a total of 13 pears on the one tree.

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None have been found on the other pear tree this year but I am hopeful for next year because there was three bunches of flowers on it this past flowering season.  I did some research on the two apple trees – of course they will not produce with each other, they are the same type of apple tree and this particular type of apple tree needs a third party pollinator.  So I have been trimming them accordingly and we purchased three fruit tree babies this year.  A golden delicious apple which is a self pollinator as well as a well know third party pollinator.  The baby trees that we purchased are about three to four feet tall right now and are doing great.  We are being very realistic and knowing that it might not be next year that we will get flowers on the baby apple to cross pollinate with the two other well established apple trees, it might be the year after.  All we can do it keep everybody in good shape and hope for the best.

With our three new fruit tree babies we are doing an apple, a bing cherry and a dwarf peach.  It was also suggested that we try the Espalier style of growth and care.  We love the concept and have already have all three on wires.  We have read that this style of growth and trimming is very time consuming.  From what we were dreading it would be hours every day.  It is not!  Yes I spend thirty minutes watering every single new fruit that we planted this year twice a day if it does not rain, but I expected that going in.  We have spent maybe three hours every other Saturday specifically on the fruit trees.

Today I spent a total of an hour trimming down a good bit of the four established trees, the only reason it took so long is because they are not Espalier style where I can reach them all well.  I have to pull one branch down at a time basically fighting it while I trim with the other hand and then step back see which branch I trimmed and then get a game plan for the net branch go in grab it and try to pull it down with out snapping it.  But within that hour I got two full armloads of suckers cut off.  Hopefully next year we will get some fruit on those little fruit shoots I just prepped.

The beets this year have not done that well, nor the bell peppers or lettuce, but the aphids have not been too awful and now that the sugar snap peas are producing I have been able to pick a few every morning.

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We have been getting one or two blueberries as well as a few strawberries.  The sage and oregano have tripled in size this year.  The spearmint and peppermint have gone gang busters jumping out of their small enclosure.  I have been able to dry so much mint this year that I ran out of room in the quart jar I use, its now in a paper bag, and I should probably cut some down tomorrow.

The Elephant Ears as well as the Hostas are perfect for concrete casting right now but with all craft shows canceled for the time being I am slightly hesitant to spend money and time on casting leaves right now, I will have to see how busy our weekends get as places start to open up.

Spending time on Gardening, RickabaughReviews approves.  I really have been taking advantage of the Covid slow down and have been enjoying putting my gardening goals into action.