Sunday, January 13, 2013

Plant where you can grow

Granny Smiths -- Someday!
We ended up moving our orchard, all the way across the pasture from the west side to the east, from where we originally dug the holes last weekend.  When I went out to begin actually taking the trees out of their wrappings and placing them in the ground, I got a really good look, and feel, of the soil we were planting in and was not happy.  It was silty with a strong dose of clay and a bunch of limestone rocks thrown in for good measure.  Maybe wine grapes can grow in it, but I knew our fruit trees would not be able to get the nutrients they needed from that soil.  Oops.  
Bings and Royal Anne -- also someday!

 Big Ag and I had a discussion about whether or not it would be better to find a part of our pasture, maybe lower on the hill, with better soil (he was initially resistant because, let's face it, no one wants to have to go dig another 10 holes in the ground after you've already dug 10).  But we explored around and sampled what is in the pasture, all the way up and down the hill, and eventually found a large patch that had some lovely soil that was like crumby chocolate cake -- moist, dark and loose -- about mid-point down the hill.  (The new holes only took about a half hour to dig, the soil was so pliant.) Of course, the new spot is a totally inconvenient spot for an orchard from a human's a long walk down and back up the hill, but you need to plant your trees where they have the best shot at growing or it won't matter how convenient the spot'll be taking a short walk to nothing.  A dead orchard won't care that you planted it in a great place for YOU.

So we decided to re-do our plan for where we were going to graze any future animals, place the orchard where the soil was best and work the pastures around that.  As usual, this place is a project list with a fence around it, and the project list can change in a moment's notice, depending on what happens real-time.  Today, it was finding surprisingly crappy soil in a place we thought would be fine.  Tomorrow it'll be something else.  We roll with it.

It's interesting though, to note that the worst soil is where the builders must have dumped soil from where they graded the hill to build the house 8 years ago, and the absolute best soil is down the hill, in a spot that hasn't been tampered with in any way whatsoever.  Mankind always thinks they're not having an impact in places they are, and the best places to grow thing are often the ones that have been pretty much left bloody well alone. 

It's all taking shape now...orchard, vines and pasture. It will all come to pass, but as with anything on this homestead, it probably won't look anything like what was originally imagined for it.   And that's OK.

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