The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Planting an apple orchard

Apple trees ready for planting in orchard

Our apple trees were delivered yesterday morning, and we spent the next 12 hours digging, planting, mulching, watering and fencing our new orchard. We worked until after sun went down, and we loved every minute.

Apple trees are delivered

We planted the orchard in one corner of our acreage, right over top of our pasture (which is coming in nicely, by the way). Its a section about 150 feet wide, which gives us plenty of space to manage the trees and get equipment. We could also add trees down the road without it looking cramped.

Checking out the new apple trees

Upon arrival, we inspected the trees. Ivar was mostly interested in the heavy machinery. We had marked out three rows of four trees each. One row of Honeycrisp, one of Zestar, and the last row four different varieties.

Auger drills holes for apple tree orchard

This auger is what made planting in one day possible. With heavy clay in some parts, it would have taken me all day just to dig. But it took them about 20 minutes to drill all the holes.

Little helper in apple orchard

The basic planting went like this. Dig or fill in the hole so the root ball (the clump of soil that comes out with the tree roots) is slightly higher than ground level. Replace the dirt while keeping the tree level. Ivar is helping me add fertilizer to the dirt as we fill it in.

Boy helping daddy in the apple orchard

Apple blossom in orchard

After it was all planted, we had to water everything and will continue watering daily for a long time. How do you water an orchard located 600 feet from the nearest hose?

How to water an orchard

We filled up a dozen buckets (which we have in abundance from collecting maple sap) and drove them out and left them next to the trees. For the first six weeks each tree needs about 1-2 gallons a day which is about one-third of a 5-gallon bucket. So every three days we’ll refill the buckets and drive them back out. After six weeks the watering schedule slows down and by next year we won’t need to water at all.

Lastly, we fenced each tree to keep the deer at bay.

We love our orchard. When it was completely dark and we were still finishing the last of the fencing I told Becca, “we’re never going to forget this night.”

Sun setting in apple orchard

3 Comments

  1. How large of a hole did you drill in the bottom of the buckets?

    • Rory

      January 31, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      Actually, we didn’t drip-irrigate the trees, so no holes. Depending on the watering schedule, I either walked out every day or every other day to dump 1/3 of a bucket (approx 1.5 gal) on the root zone.

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