Monthly Archives: March 2012

Urban Fruit Trees

Well, our tress have been in the ground for a little over a month.

You may notice they are quite a bit smaller than when we first planted them…  WHY?! you ask.

Our local Urban Farm guru, who we purchased the tress from, recommended that we cut them down to 18-24″ high.  By doing this, branches are forced to grow very low on the trunk, thus creating fruit bushes as opposed to trees.  He further suggests that the trees, as they mature, be pruned to keep the trees no taller than 6′ high and no wider than 6′ in diameter.  A few of the benefits of doing this is the ability to have many different types of trees in a small space and the fruit is much easier to pick when it is only an arm’s reach away.

I am the one who usually cringes when the trees in our yard have to be pruned.  In this case, if we were to prune the trees to bush height, I was the one who had to do it.  All of the trees are doing great except the two peach trees.

The apples already had low branches on the trunk so they look the best.  I just noticed this morning that there are a couple of new sprouts on the trunk that were not there just a few days ago.

The Anna is to the left and the Dorsett Golden is on the right.

All of the other trees had no growth on their trunks when I pruned them to 24″.  Here’s the two apricots…

The Katy variety on the left and the Golden Kist on the right.



These two trees are the Flavor Delight Aprium on the left and the Santa Rosa Plum on the right.


And here’s the two peaches; Desert Gold on the left and Mid-Pride on the right.

I will talk to our guru and let you know if the peaches are just slow or if they were traumatized and may not make it.


You may have noticed that we have a new member in our family, Shadow, a beautiful Weimaraner.  He is another rescue, one of three dogs who were caged and being starved.  When we rescued him, he was 20 pounds under weight.  You can see what skin and bones he was when we first got him.

Here he is waiting for dinner, with Roxy by his side.

We slowly built up his weight, started taking him walks to build up his muscle mass, while giving him lots of love.

The other two dogs that were rescued now live with two of our friends.  The other male, Robbo, is extremely food obsessive, always getting into trouble stealing eggs out of the frying pan, or pizza out of hands, or jumping on top of the washing machine to pull the plastic bin of dog food off the top shelf onto the floor.  The female, Gracie, was treated the worst of the three.  She is missing an eye, was severely underweight, and had small fractures on every leg from being beaten.  She is slowly healing and is with a lovely family who rescues older or sicker dogs who have few opportunities to find homes.  My mom used to say that people who treat animals in the ways these animals have been treat should have the same done to them.

We ended up doing such a great job putting weight on Shadow, our vet made us cut back because he was a bit overweight… He is a happy boy who has found his voice in our pack.

Fruit trees in the ground

The trees are in the ground!  This was an immense amount of work, mostly because of our soil mix – CLAY, CLAY, CLAY…  We ended up renting an electric “digger” to help with this process.  Even with this help, it was good hard work.  Work that lets you know you accomplished something!

Fruit trees

With the raised beds moved, we were ready to prepare the old area for planting our new orchard.

Again, Dharma at the ready to keep us lizard free!

We received 8 of our 10 trees, as you can see in the black buckets.

We let the trees sit in this space for a couple of weeks to get acclimated to their new home.  And, we needed a good long weekend where both of us could work together to get the trees in the ground.

Jack Russels & roof rats…

If only I could bottle Roxy’s energy & determination…  We have been in the process of pruning our older orange trees to help keep them healthy.  I was up on the ladder, pruning away, when i noticed the yard was very quiet…  Now, for those of you who have children, you know this is a tell-tell of trouble brewing.  I looked around the backyard, and sure enough Roxy was in with the tomatoes digging to her heart’s content.  AARRGGHH!

Well, we fixed her… and the roof rats who will soon be finished with dining on the oranges.

We constructed hinged screens for each of the beds out of 1×2 Douglas Fir studs and 1/2″ welded wire.

Hinging the screens allows me easy access to the beds to weed, add plants, or harvest.

Been busy…

The beds are moved!

Dharma is busy at work, keeping them lizard free…

The soil in the original beds was compost we purchased from a local vendor.  After the fact, we found out it was extremely woody.  When we moved the beds, we placed 75% +/- of this compost at the bottom of the new beds.  We then placed a layer of alfalfa, in a lasagna-style of gardening.  After the alfalfa layer, we mixed the remaining woody compost, soil (clay/sand mix) from older beds we have had in our backyard for quite a while, compost from our bins, and some purchased organic soil mix.  We layered this mix with another layer of alfalfa in an attempt to build the soil.

In the first bed we moved, we planted snow peas, strawberries, basil and eggplant.

In the second bed, we planted tomatoes, three different types of peppers, and more basil.