|Orchard in bloom. Photo courtesy Jay Styles.|
|Honeybee. Photo Jay Styles.|
We scheduled an orchard open house and tour during the peak blossom time, and I believe everyone enjoyed hearing stories about the history of the orchard property and some of the characters who lived there in the past. We then took a walk through the orchard and talked about our future plans for enhancing it’s value as a resource for the Alberton community and beyond. The day after the open house, the Alberton graduating high school class came to have lunch at the orchard. It was a fun time, and something we hope to make an annual event.
I’ve finally completed an inventory of all the fruit trees
on our property. Most of the trees are in the orchard proper, but we have a few
trees that exist outside the orchard, including three apples and one crabapple
that are “wild” or volunteer trees that started on their own, probably due to
animals spreading the seeds. In all, we have 76 fruit trees. The majority of
the trees were planted in about 1982. There are trees that were planted later
than that, and some trees that were planted just this year. Here is how they
break out by type.
Apples – 52
Pears – 11
Plums – 7
Crabapples – 4
Apricots – 1
Sweet cherries – 1
A clear goal is to plant more apricots and cherries! We’re
often asked what varieties of apples we have, and the answer is, mostly we don’t
know. That’s because records were not kept when the orchard was planted back in
the 1980s. We can identify a few of the apples, pears, and plums, and of course
we know the new ones we’ve recently planted. We hope to consult with fruit experts to
identify some of the others.
Operating an orchard is a lot of work, and there is quite a
bit of technical knowledge involved. One technique that can be quite useful is
grafting. Grafting basically involves taking a twig, or scion, from one tree,
and making it grow onto the stem or branch of another tree, called the rootstock. Anytime you buy a fruit tree at a store or nursery, you can be sure
it has been grafted. This allows combining the best fruit growing limbs from
one tree with the hardiest and most disease resistant roots from another tree.
My first attempt at grafting in 2020
Apple to crabapple graft.
|Plum to plum graft.|
If you’d like to learn more about fruit trees, or just get out for some exercise in the fresh air, we’re always looking for volunteers at Brovold Orchard. Stop by sometime and we can talk about how you can get involved.