Spring in the orchard

Someone sort of giggled once when I referred to our orchard as an "orchard". To be fair, it was mid-winter, and when fruit trees are little and devoid of any leaves, blossom or fruit, they kind of just look like dead sticks in a mound of dirt and mulch.

But whether it is laughable or not, I am so very proud of our "orchard”.

It was the very first thing that we planted when we moved to Widgetopia. 18 fruit and nut trees, the saddest looking, two-foot high, bare root specimens, planted as best we could into our rocky backyard. 

Before we cleared away the building rubble and bush that had grown up to the house... this was a photo of the backyard when we were inspecting the house before we bought.

Before we cleared away the building rubble and bush that had grown up to the house... this was a photo of the backyard when we were inspecting the house before we bought.

It didn't take us long after planting them to realise that we needed to protect each tree. No, that is a lie. It took each and every one of those 18 trees being badly damaged and eaten to almost nothing by a particularly jerky wallaby before we realised that we needed to protect the orchard trees. We fashioned up some wire cages for each tree, pegged in with flimsy tent pegs, until we finally got around to fencing in the backyard completely.  

The top photo above is from 2011 and you can just make out the fruit trees... The bottom photo is from last weekend.

The top photo above is from 2011 and you can just make out the fruit trees... The bottom photo is from last weekend.

Of the original 18, miraculously only two have needed to be replaced in the four years since. At some stage we added another apricot tree, so our orchard is now made up of 19 trees: 2 almonds, 3 peaches, 3 nectarines, 3 apricots, 3 plums, 3 apples and 2 pears. 

I collected blossom from every tree in flower today...

You may notice that there are no apples or pear blossoms on there. This is my biggest gardening mystery right now! Why are our pears and apples once again going straight to leaf, without producing any blossom??? No blossom = no fruit, so this is a sad state of affairs. No amount of googling or referring to all of my gardening books has answered my question yet, and I am completely stumped. All of our ornamental pears have flowered so it really makes no sense to me. My only thought is that when the aforementioned jerky wallaby destroyed the trees, perhaps he managed to eat the pears and apples down to their (non-fruiting) root stock? But then they wouldn't leaf like apples and pears would they? And really, he destroyed all of the trees, so why only the apples and pears are refusing to fruit makes no sense. Actually, now that I am typing this I have a second thought that the pear and cherry slug that we get every year might have damaged the trees... but I don't think it has ever attacked the apples. Hmmmm, botanical mysteries abound! 

Anyway, the pears and apples aside, the orchard is doing so well and looking so pretty right now. Hopefully we will have a bumper crop of fruit come summer this year!

{UPDATED!!! The wonderful Linda Ross commented on my instagram that it is possible that the pear and apple trees are still too young to fruit. They are four year olds, so this surprised me, but her suggestion has made me think that we give them a few more years before they are pulled out and replaced. She also suggested giving them comfrey tea and potash... which sounds an awful lot like a cup of herbal tea in front of the fire, and has led me to do some more research on these things. I shall report back on The Tree Diaries when I learn more!}