Thursday, December 15, 2022
In my fever to get things done around the property, I hit upon the idea of putting in an orchard. Not a massive orchard, you understand, but a domestic sized orchard with a few apple trees, a pear tree or two, maybe a peach tree, and a specialty tree: I wanted to plant a crabapple tree in memory of my friend Natalka's mother, Daria Husar Struk, who died in 2020, at age 100. Daria was a marvel. She even picked her time to die very well: just before the advent of Covid-19, which she would have enjoyed even less than the rest of us. Daria loved the pink blossoms of a crabapple tree, and I discussed with Natalka my wish to plant a tree in her memory. The first summer I moved here, an excellent young guy named Mark built four raised vegetable beds for me. Mark has a business called Gourmet Greens Organics, and he's a wealth of knowledge about planting vegetables. I sent Mark an email, asking if he'd come and inspect a flat area on my south lawn for its suitability as the site of a dwarf orchard. This flat area had previously been a large gravel children's play area with swings and slides and a climbing apparatus. I'd removed most of the gravel, depositing in on my neighbours' driveway, whereupon goldenrod plants took over, rooting very lightly amidst the gravel. Mark agreed that we could plant a drawf orchard of about eleven trees, but first we'd have to cut down about a dozen old pines that were casting too much shadow on the lawn. (Notice I refer to "we". In truth, the only "we" part of this operation has been the sunny afternoon that I pulled up lots of dead goldenrod.) Mark chainsawed down the pines and a dead spruce or two, plus one maple which will make excellent firewood a few years from now. Yesterday he brought in a wood chipper and - you know how it is when you steam spinach? You put a mountain of spinach in the steamer and four minutes later you have one small helping of steamed spinach. That's what the wood chipper was like. There's maybe a few bushels of wood chips on the south lawn, but those chips will be like steamed spinach at the base of my fruit trees early this spring. However, I know very well that this will be a legacy orchard, for I might not be here by the time the first apple is picked. Stand by for photos.