Posted by: A Part of the Solution | September 22, 2010

The Orchard Plan

We’re getting ready to place our orders with suppliers who can provide us with (modified for disease resistance) heirloom fruit trees on the farm. We want an orchard in the field to the east of the pond. We want an orchard with apples, peaches, cherries and quince to start. We want an orchard that has room for cane fruit: blackberries, raspberries &tc. We want an orchard which will accommodate our desire for blueberries, lots of blueberries. We want an orchard plan which will carry people from strawberries and cherries in June right through to the last apples and quince in November.

We don’t want much, do we?

We consulted with our favorite fruit tree specialist about the odds of planting fruit tree whips in Autumn instead of early Spring. Her verdict was Autumn, even in a drought year, was easier on the young trees and gave them a better shot at getting enough moisture than Spring into Summer would–without intensive irrigation cycles in place. So we’re still aiming for this fall. And that same expert shared with us that we should wait until the end of October to put the trees in, so they’d be dormant and under less stress as they adjusted to their new home turf.

For apples, I’m thinking about Gravenstein and State Fair as our earliest varietals. Then I’m looking at a who’s who of great oldies: Cox Orange Pippin, Winesap, Northern Spy, Braeburn, Arkansas Black, Ashmead’s Kernel and Lady Apples (cause they’re just so darned cute). I wanted different textures, uses, and colors as well as a long season from the apples. If anybody reading this has some alternative suggestions, I’m open to taking advice and listening to opinions.

In cherries, I want both sweet and tart. Within sweet, I want both red and blush. For tart, I’m thinking the classics: Early Richmond and Montmorency (with possibly the more modern Balaton). Cherries are sensitive to diseases passed from their wild cousins. I’ll be planting cherry trees along the roadside, the lane and over by the WWOOfing housing, since they won’t do well surrounded by those feral cherry trees over in the middle back field.

For sweet, red cherries I’m thinking about Rynbrandt, Schmidt’s Biggareau, Hedelfingen and Hudson. For blush cherries, I want White Gold, Royal Ane, Emperor Francis and Gold. These too will be planted in locations sufficiently distant from the wooded strips and forests that they will stand some likelihood of survival against whatever diseases the wild cherries may be suffering.

For quince, I want a selection of Chaenomeles (Japonica Quince) so that they’ll be fertile and I can make Quince Liqueur again. I also want the actual quince trees: Portugal, Smyrna and Orange out to make a nice selection. And they’ll make even better preserves, jellies and membrillos.

In blueberries, I’m thinking Chippewa, Draper, Chandler and Brigitta. These will extend the season such that we can have fresh blueberries from early July right through August. Talk about desirable and delicious.

I’m still working out the exact peach varietals we want to plant. Snow Queen is a shoo-in though, and one of those cute donut shaped ones for sure. Then maybe a couple of yellow fleshed freestones. But I haven’t got the details all worked out. As I say, any inputs are welcomed!



  1. If my apples were actually bearing, I’d give you my take. I’ve got Northern Spy, Gala, Jonagold (scab resistant), Spygold, Winesap, and Honeycrisp (not heirloom). But half of those simply came to me, not so much that I picked them. I’d have grabbed a Gravenstein if one showed up. I’ve tasted them twice, and was memorably impressed both time. So I’m glad that’s on your list.

    I’ve heard that the “donut” peach is susceptible to peach leaf curl. That’s such a distinctive problem (one of the “prettiest” ailments I’ve seen), it won’t go un-noticed, and it can be dealt with if it shows. You might be far enough from susceptible trees that it won’t be an issue. It wouldn’t stop me from putting it on my list.

    My Damson plum gets black knot. They simply aren’t resistant. I have to practice constant vigilance each winter with cutting out affected parts – but the crazy-amazing fruits are worth it. I’ll always have one.

    Your lists sound great. I have no opinion on the other peach varieties. They always seem more like each other than not to me.

    Oh- and I just planted a Hudson cherry this year, too. A late cherry sounds like a good addition.

    You might think about adding Serviceberries to the list…the shrub form is easier to harvest. They look and taste like blueberries, but produce much much younger, and ripen in early June (also called Juneberries), a month ahead of blueberries. They’re native, and easy. Put ’em in and ignore ’em. I’m moving toward those because blueberries need it WAY more acid that I can give them (the freaks). and I can’t keep them happy here.

    Braiding and chanting for some nice soaking rains in early October to prep your orchard fields!

    • Thanks for the extra braiding and chanting. I’ll look into the Serviceberries. I do want Damsons, and I don’t care what trouble they end up being, cause you’re right about how good the darned things are.

      • I planted the Damson not having experienced them. Mostly because Brian Whatcheeface kept going on about them in his Redwall books. Damson pudding, Damson cordial, Damson scones or whathaveyou.

        Two years after planting, when my tree gave me about a dozen, my first taste caused me to see Eden, and I knew what the fuss was about. Black Knot bedamned, those are good!

  2. No extra suggestions, just a big “yahoo!” that you’ll be planting Lady Apples! I love them! And oh so many cherries…I may just have to camp out beneath those trees…

    • You are wholly welcome to camp in my cherry orchard, but if it starts turning into one of those maudlin Russian realist plays, I’m evicting you post haste.

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