Starting an Orchard Part I: Why I want an Orchard

One of the things I really wanted on my property in West Virginia, is perennial fruit trees and bushes. My paternal grandparents had an amazing 80-90 year old Abraham Lincoln Apple Tree in Western Illinois. My grandmother made a lot of apple pies for the church community and for her (great) grandchildren from this tree. The apples were also a lot of fun to throw into the cow pasture near by and watch the hulking beasts come close to a young 10 year old me. The taste though, those were quite distinct and I doubt I can forget them.

When maternal grandmother died, but my Grandfather remarried and they lived in Florida and Michigan. In both locations, fresh fruit trees were readily available as citrus in the south and cherries in the north. Maybe it is nostalgia, but there was something amazing about the ability to gain access to local fruits, that required minimal effort, and had provided a huge bounty.

Why don’t more people plant fruit trees? Time. These things take years to establish, and people want their results now. And even after establishing a number of trees, it’s not promised to be successful. But once established they continue to provide for years on end. Additionally, the provide a substantial amount of flowering for the local insect (bee) populations as well.

My goal was to establish a single apple tree unique to me: I wanted to have its main trunk local to West Virginia, but grafts on it from multiple apple trees from different regions I have lived in. However, I recently learned that my grandparent’s apple tree is no longer there, so I have nixed that idea.

I still want the ability to have fresh fruit available most of the summer on my property, for multiple reasons. I would obviously like to be out there and pick something of my own right off the tree as ripe as possible (even if there are some possible bugs that need to be cut out). Additionally, the fresh fruit will bring in different types of wild life which will be nice as well. Finally, I want to get started on it now, so hopefully it will begin to mature over the next few years.

So let’s get started.

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