Last weekend, to celebrate Mother’s Day and our 12th anniversary (which happened to be on the same day this year!), Ryan planned a special outing as a gift for me. We loaded up the family and drove to a tree nursery just down the road from the farm. I wasn’t exactly sure how many trees we would be bringing home with us that day, but I about squealed with delight when Ryan announced we could get five fruit trees to plant in our orchard.
We knew we wanted several apple varieties that ripened at differing times so we would be able to space our apple harvest out for as long as possible each year. We walked around the tree farm and read the information cards on each variety until we were satisfied with two. We took home a SnowSweet, which is a new variety cultivated by the University of Minnesota that ripens in early September, and a Haralred, which ripens in October and stores well over winter. We purchased young bare-root trees, so most of this season will be spent developing the roots. We’ll see more growth next year.
Next spring we’ll go back to pick up a Honeycrisp, which is an excellent mid-season tree, as well as an early variety of apple tree that ripens in August, such as Zestar.
In addition to apple trees, we decided to add plums and cherries to the orchard. We chose two different hardy plum varieties, Toka and Pembina, which produce sweet fruit excellent for fresh eating.
We also took home a Lapin cherry tree, which is a sweet cherry and a self-pollinizer so it does not need a partner. This is one of the only sweet cherry trees suited to Minnesota’s climate.
In the future, we will purchase two pear trees to add to our cozy little orchard, giving us a total of 10 trees.
The variety of our current, very large, heavily-blossomed apple tree is, as of yet, a mystery. We deduced it must be an old classic by its apparent age, which is one reason we decided to purchase newer varieties for our orchard; we didn’t want to unknowingly buy the same tree we already have. We hope to be able to identify the tree by its apples. It looks as if it will be bowing under the weight of all its apples this year.
With our little trees safely loaded in our trailer, we drove the short trek home and got busy planning out the placement of each tree and digging holes.
The kids love to help when the shovels come out. I loved that everyone pitched in to get the orchard planted. This orchard is in honor of our marriage and the resulting 6 beautiful babies; each one of them a blessing. It was very fitting that we all planted it together and I see these trees growing up right along with my kids. Each will change dramatically over the next few years. As we worked together in our orchard, carefully covering the roots and watering them, I couldn’t help but think of the relation to both marriage and raising kids. Young trees are so fragile in the beginning. The roots are developing and must be nurtured and tended to daily. They need attentive watering and good soil. But once those roots get established, the tree begins to take off, growing quickly and not easily harmed by drought or storms. A well-rooted, strong tree will bear lots of good fruit that will enrich the lives of many for years to come.