Friday, May 31, 2013

In the orchard

The light was so beautiful last night. All day, it was mid-eighties and sticky, but about 7:30, everything started to glow. I decided to take pictures of the orchard, because it's finally starting to look like something-- not a pretty something, necessarily, but a productive something-- and that makes me happy. The brushy little trees really don't look like much, but when you remember what they looked like when I planted them, they seem to have come a long way. 

Right? To think that barren field of twigs (and no greenhouse!) was just two scant years ago... well...

I think the companion planting is finally starting to pay off. I've planted comfrey, chives, lupines, Baptisia, daffodils, yarrow, Queen Anne's lace, and now some currant bushes in around the trees. All these things have a good ecosystem-building trait of some kind. Lupines and Baptisia to fix nitrogen, daffodils to repel deer, chives to repel everything else. Comfrey to send a deep taproot down into the hardpan and siphon up minerals. I hack the comfrey down to the ground about every four or six weeks-- "chop and drop mulching," that's called-- so the minerals it's mined can benefit the trees, keep down the weeds a little, and retain moisture. The comfrey, for all its miracles, doesn't seem to mind the inhospitality.

I'll admit that right now it looks a little sloppy-- but that's permaculture. As picturesque as an orchard of just grass and trees might seem, it's also more sterile. Here, the fruit trees are surrounded by friends cheering them on-- at least that's what I try to tell myself when I start worrying others might consider this an "eyesore-- and in a few years it'll look more like an effusive meadow of wildflowers than a weedy lawn. As everything grows in, and I find more things to plant here, the whole orchard "block" will be one solid plant community, with no lawn whatsoever.

I can't tell you who's more looking forward to that day: me, the gardener, or Patrick, who currently spends half an hour a week mowing out all the nooks and crannies around the planting.

I'll close with a picture taken during Wednesday's hail storm. Sheesh. The stuff shredded a few hostas, but didn't do much damage to the garden, thankfully. We ate a big bowl of garden spinach last night.

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Becky said...

I love the idea of companion plantings! So smart. Do chives really fend off everything? I have a pot and a planter full of 'em.

Kristina Strain said...

I can't prove anything, Becky, but I have six fruit trees ringed with chives that seem to suffer only a few caterpillars each summer... so far...

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