Author: Stella Otto
Size: 6x9. Trade paperback
Black & white line illustrations
Trouble shooting guide
Pub Date: January 1, 1995
Published by: OttoGraphics (Distributed by: Chelsea Green Publishing)
Excerpt from The Backyard Orchardist
From Chapter 1. Enjoying Fruit Trees In Your Landscape
The lore and love of fruit trees has been with us for many generations. Johnny Appleseed, pioneer of apple orchards, has long been a folk hero and George Washington brought the cherry tree to fame with his famous “I cannot tell a lie” declaration. For many gardeners, the attraction of growing a fruit tree is as strong today as it was during the days of these well known figures.
The wonderful thing about fruit trees is that they can be enjoyed by virtually anyone willing to invest a little bit of energy and patience into growing them and they can be enjoyed in so many different ways. Whether you are a novice gardener who would like to start with something unique or a seasoned veteran looking for a new adventure, fruit trees are rewarding, interesting and relatively simple to maintain once you understand some basics. Over my many years as an orchard owner and consultant, I have been asked many questions; some simple, some complex. From those questions this book has grown. To introduce you to this exciting hobby, The Backyard Orchardist will explore the basic concepts of fruit growing and guide you through the skills needed to successfully raise your own fruit trees.
One of the first things you will learn is that fruit growing is an avocation that takes patience and a little bit of forethought. For developing these virtues, you will be well rewarded, however. You will have the pride of saying “I grew it myself” and the opportunity to enjoy the sweetness and flavor that only tree ripened fruit offers. You will also become privy to the understanding that is behind the mystique of fruit growing. The Backyard Orchardist is meant to be an encouraging hand and personal consultant throughout the adventures of fruit growing. You will soon find out that fruit growing is both a science and an art.…You will also come to see that many of the things you do to your fruit tree are interrelated and as you take one action you may save yourself another. So, explore, observe, keep a few notes and don’t be afraid to try something different if what you are currently doing is not bringing the expected results. Above all relax, be patient and enjoy! Most fruit trees are quite resilient and will allow you to make a few “mistakes” along the way. Consider them learning experiences and don’t worry; most fruit trees will bounce back. Although there is much to be learned, it certainly doesn’t all need to be done at once. Start small with one or two of the easily grown trees and by the time they are bearing fruit you may find that you have a much greener thumb than you ever envisioned. Yes, growing fruit trees is fun and not all that difficult.
From Chapter 2. Selecting the Right Site
When making decisions about what to plant and where, other items to keep in mind are moisture and the availability of water. Indeed, this should really be broken down into these two categories because the presence of moisture does not address only the tree’s need for water. The presence of constantly wet soil on a portion of your property may mean that you have a high water table or poor soil drainage that will make it more difficult to properly grow a fruit tree in that location. The roots of a fruit tree do need a certain amount of water to keep from drying out, but too much of a good thing can raise havoc, too.…so, it is important to know your soil type as it may have a bearing on how much moisture a certain area will hold and its suitability to growing fruit trees.…
Obviously your fruit tree will need a certain amount of water to grow and prosper.…so for practical purposes you should think about how much water you will need to provide to your tree and where it will come from. The average size fruit tree needs about an inch of rain a week.…
From Chapter 3. Planting and Early Care
Selecting the Tree
Next, select your tree. If you have ordered from a nursery catalog, you may not be able to evaluate the quality of the tree before it arrives. When possible, order one-year-old trees with trunks of 1⁄2″ to 3⁄4″ in diameter.… Most nurseries will send the trees “bare root”, that is, with no soil or other growing medium around the roots. Reputable nurseries will take care to protect the roots from drying out, often using damp sphagnum moss or a plastic wrap. Quality trees should arrive dormant and with healthy, moist roots. If you are selecting your tree from a local garden center, look for a tree with a straight trunk and well-spaced branches.… Trees four to five feet in height are good. Most likely the garden center will sell trees that have been potted. Be sure that the tree is not rootbound in the pot or has many roots growing out of the bottom of the pot. This may be a sign that the tree has actually been growing in the pot for an extra season because it grew poorly in its first year.…