Planting a small orchard.

Had a friend having trouble with rats eating his carrots during winter. He placed an old mattress base, the type with springs around the edge tensioning a wire mesh, over the carrots and wired it to the live on an extension lead. That evening we sat in the house by the window overlooking the carrot patch. Boy did those rats get a surprise, didn't kill any but what a laugh to see them jump, screech and run. This idea could be adapted to protect the bark on young trees.
A Year Later:
The trees all survived the winter and bloomed on cue. All except the peaches set fruit which I have removed to help the plants mature.
Seeing tent caterpillars on the pear in the corner and that all especially the peach trees had grown wild, I went to work with the pruning shears.
No other crops out here this summer; I think I will plant grass this fall as the garden closer to the house is enough for wife and I.
Rabbits all over the place this summer. I guess the coyotes all died off or moved away.
Live Oaks
I never heard of live oaks until my little visit. I was thinking ok live oaks, dead oaks, petrified wood, phone poles, what are the options here? Not helped by the fact that the pecan trees were dropping like flies from the drought. There's an oak tree in my back yard that's very much alive, but we don't refer to it as living.
We have white oaks and black oaks. Maybe red oaks if somebody's showing off. I'm not surprised you have Spanish oak :) Wish they grew tacos.
Does anyone eat White Oak acorns? I read they are edible and can be made into a peanut butter type product. The Oaks in the UK are very high in tannins so are unpleasant to eat. I have tried dicing them up and soaking in water to remove the tannin. This only made a slight improvement.
No, did not use any sealer on the cuts, I have heard that there is a vague debate about whether needed or not, but do not think it is a thing up here.
However, different species of trees here have suffered from alien invasions, the last I know of was the Emerald Ash Borer which cleaned out almost all the ash trees in Southern Ontario.
I trimmed the trees back heavily and took off any fruit so the strength would go to the roots this summer. Left the land fallow and keep the weeds out of it so I can plant grass next week or so.


  • 20190722_124243.jpg
    339 KB · Views: 217
I grow about 50 pounds of blackberries each year, in a small, tightly organized netted enclosure to keep the birds pissed off. The plants are thornless so no injuries during harvest and grown on a trellis system. Been doing it for about 15 years, its getting tiresome as i get in my years, always fighting the heat of the Sacramento sun. You can see the berries get big, and the rows during are sparse then during season, it becomes like a berry forrest, very dense.
May reduce volume but I cant imagine life without fresh berries, what I don't eat fresh get frozen for the year throughout.


  • Screenshot_2019-09-01-09-44-15.png
    772.2 KB · Views: 195
  • Screenshot_2019-09-01-09-44-29.png
    691.6 KB · Views: 213
I went a little fruit tree crazy two years ago, planting two apples, a Santa Rosa plum, and two mandarin oranges. You probably know that you need two different apples for them to pollinate, mine are Pink Lady and Fuji, both do well here and are my favorites anyway, and I have a nice little crop of them this year. Had a single plum this year that I knocked off when lawn mowing, but tree looks great and I bet it'll be covered with them next year.
Three years later, trees are now 5 years planted, here's an update:


Santa Rosa plum: This is the first year I've gotten a crop from this tree. I guess it was stimulated by the big freeze. You know, the freeze that practicality completely shut down all of Texas's infrastructure. I had tons of germination, but 90% of the baby fruit were destroyed by worms (actually moth larva). I think the worm explosion also was a result of the freeze.
I'm left with a couple dozen fruit. They are small -- the one on the left is normal, the other is a bit stunted -- but delicious. Note the worm scars. I think that if the worm gets to the plum early, the tree drops it, but if the worm gets to the plum late, the tree keeps on making its seed.
The really cool thing about these plums is that they ripen so early. It's not even summer. The apples and pecans won't ripen until late fall.
One more thing I learned -- that grayish coating is called "bloom." It's waxy and protects many different fruits from drying out and insects.

Apples: This is also the first year that I'm getting an apple crop. Pretty much exact same story as the plum tree, except I'm only going to get about 10 apples, and only from one tree.
Here's the sad thing about the apple trees. My two cats loved using those little tree trunks as scratching posts. I guess they were the perfect texture and hardness. I never gave it a second thought. Then, last year, I finally noticed that their scratching had practically girdled both trees. This had been going on for 3 or 4 years, and I never snapped to it. No wonder those trees have been so feeble. Each is about 75% girdled, with just a little strip of bark feeding each tree. But, they really seem to have a strong will to live, and are doing their best to survive.

Mandarin oranges: Our nurseries sell cold-hardy mandarins, but 4 days where it never gets above freezing, with night-time lows of 18 degrees, is too much. I'm pretty sure that every mandarin in town died. Full grown, these were glorious trees, with hundreds and hundreds of fruit on them, maybe even thousands.
However... mine are small enough that I built scaffoldings around my two mandarins, wrapped the scaffolds with blankets, and ran a bare electric bulb under each scaffold as a heater. So, now they look just great. I've possibly got the only two mandarins in town.
I have yet to get a crop. Last year, each tree produced a single delicious fruit. This year, I don't have any.