Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: fruit trees

Local Wildlife Ate All The Wild Plums

Texas Wild Plums

The wild plums here are on the farm were almost ready. So the other day I grabbed a bucket, walked over to the plum patch, and the trees were empty. They had gone from hundreds of wild plums to one in just a couple of days. Chances are the local wildlife feasted on the plums.

How do I know it was the local wildlife? There were no plums on the ground. When the plums ripen they fall off the tree. Since there were no plums on the ground, this means something ate them.

There is a wild plum crop here on the farm that has been left to grow for the past decade. Some of the trees are close to eight feet tall and are nice sized.

Wild plum production can be hit and miss. Some years the trees do very well, while other years they produce almost nothing. The plum production may have something to do with the time spent below freezing, but I am not sure. The winter of 2017 – 2018 was very harsh here in Southeast Texas, and the plum corp in 2018 was wonderful.

Trying Something New With The Fig Trees

Fig tree

Around 2014 several fig trees were planted in the chicken yard. Some of the fig trees died and had to be replanted. The original ones, and the new ones have barely grown.

One of the original trees has barely put on any growth in four years.

In the past I had tried stuff like Miracle Grow plant spikes, and some Miracle Grow plant food. All that stuff is is a low grade fertilizer. Nothing I tried with Miracle Grow spikes or plant food helped the fig trees.

For 2018 I decided to try something different. I picked up some 6-7-7 fertilizer and put a cup around the base of each tree. This was done right before a rain. To benefit the plants the fertilizer has to be worked, or washed, into the soil.

Fig Tree Fertilizer

Wild Plum Crop Looking Good For 2018

Wild plums, the American Plum

The wild plum, also known as the American Plum, is a plum native to the Americas. It grows wild in sandy soil and is drought tolerant.

Here on the farm there is a batch of wild plums in a pasture and have been growing there for years. This year looks like they are going to produce a good crop.

I do not know if it was the harsh winter of 2017 – 2018, or the very sweet spring, but whatever happened, the wild plums here on the farm are doing pretty good.

Some of the trees have 5 or 6 plums on one branch.

There is a spot on the farm I want to cultivate more of these trees at. So when the plums ripen I am going to harvest the seeds and plant them where I want the other orchard at.

The only bad thing about wild plums is they need full sun. If they get shaded, chances are they will die back. Some pine trees grew up in the north side of the wild plum patch, and the plum trees around the pine trees have died.

Planted Two More Brown Turkey Fig Trees

During the spring of 2018 I decided to put two more Brown Turkey Fig trees here on the farm. This gives me a total of five fig trees. Three are in the chicken yard, and two are outside the chicken yard near the chicken house.

Planting the first set of fig trees in the chicken yard came with some problems. For one, they were a long ways from a water source. To water the trees, about 100 yards of water hose had to be strung together. They were also planted in sandy soil which did not hold very much water.

The two Brown Turkey Fig trees planted in 2018 were planted near the chicken house. the clay layer is around 12 – 14 inches below the surface, the the soil holds water better than the sandy soil. Also, the fig trees were planted where they could use manure in the chicken house as fertilizer.

Two More Brown Turkey Fig Trees

Fruit Trees and Orchards For 2018

Peach tree

There is an area close to the chicken yard that I would like to clear out for a small orchard of fruit trees. It only measures around 50 X 75 feet, maybe 50 X 100 feet. Just large enough to plant some mayhaw, fig and pear trees. Not a lot of trees, maybe a handful of each. There is a good size sweet gum tree in the way of this orchard. Cutting the sweet gum tree down and burning the stump would not be a big deal, just time consuming.

Another spot is on old fence line that is overgrown with small oaks and sweet gums. This is around 400 feet long and would have full sun. The issue with this one, it would require a LOT of work to cut all the sweet gum and small oak trees out, then burn the stump to make sure they do not come back. This location does not have access to water, while the other location does.

Fig Tree Organic Fertilizer Experiment

Fig tree with some chickens

For some reason my fig trees are not growing like they should. I suspect it is due to the sandy soil and a lack of composting around the fig trees. There is just any nutrients in the soil for the trees to pull from.

I do not want to put commercial fertilizer around them, so I mixed up some organic fertilizer:

  • Cut the top off of a one gallon milk jug.
  • Fill 3/4 with water.
  • One handful aged chicken manure.
  • One handful ash from my smoker. This is a mix of oak, pecan and wild cherry.
  • Handful bone meal.
  • Urine.
  • Mix together with a stick.
  • Pour around base of fig tree.

Developing Self-Sustainable Farm More Difficult Than Expected

Bush hogging with tractor

When I moved to the farm almost 3 years ago I thought this was going to be easy. Build a nice chicken yard, build a chicken house, plant some fruit trees, and things will be off and running. Then I can work on the pole barn, barn, and fence in a few acres for goats and cattle.

Lets just say things have not been going as planned.

Fruit Trees Have Been a Failure

Either from disease, drought, drowned from too much rain,,,, whatever the reason, my fruit tree project has not gone anywhere near as expected.

A plum tree my kids and I planted several years ago died. A second plum tree is not doing anything. It is not even hardly growing.

Peach trees are not growing as expected, or died. Out of the several peach trees that were planted over the past few years, only one has grown and is producing any peaches. This year that one peach tree is not doing anything.

Fig trees died from the summer drought of 2015. June, July, August and September 2015 we got very little rain fall here in southeast Texas. I did not keep my young fig trees watered like they needed, and 3 out of the 4 died.

One of the blueberry bushes died.

Spring is the Season to Plant Fruit Trees

Peach tree

Spring is the season to plant fruit trees. Every spring I look over the fruit trees, try to determine what new trees the farm needs and go from there.

  • So far the spring of 2015:
  • 5 peach trees
  • 1 pear tree
  • 2 blueberry bushes

This makes a total of:

8 peach trees. Three of the older trees are rather small and not doing well. I might have to replant next spring if they do not make it. In all I am rather disappointed in how my peach trees are doing. Some of them have been in the ground for several years and do not seem to be growing.

Mulching Around Peach and Plum Trees

Peach tree

Several years ago my kids and I planted some peach trees and a plum tree. At least one of the peach trees died and was replaced with another plum tree.

The oldest plum tree is doing well, a couple of the peach trees are doing ok, but two of the peach trees are not doing anything. They are just “there” not growing at all.

Now that my wife and I have moved to the farm I am resolved to take care of the fruit trees.

Why haven’t the trees been growing? I think it is a 2 prong problem:

1. Texas has been in a severe drought for the past few years.

2. We have sandy soil in southeast Texas that does not have very much organic matter.

I am going to fix those two problems by supplying water to the trees when needed, and adding organic mulch around the base of the tree.

PEACHES PEARS CHERRIES and GRAPES

Our harsh, capricious climate north of the latitudes of Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and St. Louis—so much severer than that of corresponding latitudes in Europe—is unfavorable, or at least very trying, to all the more delicate and luscious Fruits, berries excepted. Except on our Pacific coast, of which the Winter temperature is at least ten degrees milder than that of the Atlantic, the finer Peaches and Grapes are grown with difficulty north of the fortieth degree of latitude, save in a few specially favored localities, whereof the southern shore of Lake Erie is most noted, though part of that of Lake Ontario and of the west coast of Lake Michigan are likewise well adapted to the Peach.

It is not the mere fact that the mercury in Fahrenheit’s thermometer sometimes ranges below zero, and the earth is deeply frozen, but the suddenness wherewith such rigor succeeds and is succeeded by a temperature above the freezing point, that proves so inhospitable to the most valued Tree-Fruits. And, as the dense forests which formerly clothed the Alleghenies and the Atlantic slope, are year by year swept away, the severity of our “cold snaps,” and the celerity with which they appear and disappear, are constantly aggravated. A change of 60°, or from 50° above to 10° below zero, between morning and the following midnight, soon followed by an equally rapid return to an average November temperature, often proves fatal even to hardy forest-trees. I have had the Red Cedar in my woods killed by scores during an open, capricious Winter; and my observation indicates the warmest spots in a forest as those where trees are most likely to be thus destroyed.

The apple tree

If I were asked to say what single aspect of our economic condition most strikingly and favorably distinguished the people of our Northern States from these of most if not all other countries which I have traversed, I would point at once to the fruit-trees which so generally diversify every little as well as larger farm throughout these States, and are quite commonly found even on the petty holdings of the poorer mechanics and workmen in every village and in the suburbs and outskirts of every city.

I can recall nothing like it abroad, save in two or three of the least mountainous and most fertile districts of northern Switzerland. Italy has some approach to it in the venerable olive-trees which surround or flank many, perhaps most, of her farm-houses, upholding grape-vines as ancient and nearly as large as themselves; but the average New-England or Middle State homestead, with its ample Apple-orchard and its cluster of Pear, Cherry and Plum-trees surrounding its house and dotting or belting its garden, has an air of comfort and modest thrift, which I have nowhere else seen fairly equaled.

Upland Virginia and the mountainous portion of the States southward of her may in time surpass the most favored regions of the North in the abundance, variety and excellence of their fruits; for the Peach and the Grape find here a congenial climate, while they are grown with difficulty, where they can be grown at all, in the North; but, up to this hour, I judge that our country north of the Potomac is better supplied with wholesome and palatable tree-fruits than any other portion of the earth’s surface of equal or nearly equal area.

What Kind of Disaster Are You Prepping For

Shooting AK-47 with ERGO Grip SUREGRIP

There is an interesting thread in the forum that got me to thinking; that thread is what are you truly prepping for? What kind of disaster are you preparing for? Are you prepping for an outbreak of a new disease, long term civil unrest, nuclear war,,, or something else?

My personal opinion, as long as you and your family are prepping, at least you are going in the right direction. The difference is the degree of readiness.

I can not tell you what to prep for. All I can do is tell you how my family and I are prepping.

My long term survival plans include food production, safe drinking water and property protection.

Food Production

During the Black Death of 1348 – 1350 starvation probably killed as many people as the bubonic plague. Modern society is based on farms and modern transportation. Where would our grocery stores be without trucks, fuel and highways?

Fruit Trees and the Urban Survivalist

Peaches

Fruit trees are the friend of the urban survivalist. Unlike a garden, you do not have to replant the fruit tree every year, during the spring your neighbors will be jealous of the beautiful blooms, dwarf fruit trees can be planted just about anywhere, and some types of fruit trees are high producers. Meaning, that with just 1 or 2 trees, your family should be able to put up plenty of preserves.

Some types of dwarfs may not get 8 feet tall and might be something good to plant in the corners of your fence. If you have a fence in your backyard, what do you have planted in the corners right now anyway? Planting the fruit tree across the back fence might provide it with more sun light, as compared to planting it between the houses.

Over the past few years I have made it a point to plant some fruit trees. Some of the types I have planted include peach, plum, apple, and a fig tree.

When picking the different types of trees that you want to plant, take into consideration when the fruit is ready to be picked. I like to plant different types of trees so that the fruit ripens at different times. One might ripen in July, another might ripen in August, and another might ripen in September. This gives me time to preserve the fruit. Even if I do not preserve the fruit, having the fruit ripen at different times spreads out my food supply.

Fruit Tree Considerations For The Survivalist

Fig tree with some chickens

One part of the survivalist preps that is often over looked is the fruit tree. Instead of having to plant a garden every year, just plant a few fruit trees. Take care of the trees, give them some fertilizer, keep the bugs off of them, keep them trimmed and you might just have a food producing machine in your backyard.

Most people have a corner in the backyard where a fruit tree could be planted. If there is not enough room for a full sized tree, look into some miniature fruit trees. Some of miniature types only grow to be 6 – 10 feet tall.

The first thing to do is find out what kind of fruit tree grow well in your area. Some species of trees are better suited for certain climates. Some considerations include water requirements, frost requirements, freeze tolerant,,, the list goes on and on.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018