Sunday, March 14, 2010

Apples and Oranges

I moved the apple tree - again. 

It  started life espaliered on the fence outside the kitchen window, until the neighbor’s trees got to be too much for it. Honestly, who plants a tree that grows to sixty feet tall and wide a mere twelve inches from the neighbor’s fence? And ten feet from the neighbor’s kitchen window? Oh, right...

Two years ago I dug up the apple and moved it from its dark and shady spot under the ever expanding neighbor’s tree. I put it in the south forty. It’s actually the north-east forty, but it’s the bit of garden furthest from the house, hence the name.

The south forty had the only sunny-ish spot left in the garden big enough for a tree, other than the center of the lawn. Hmmm, that’s an idea....

I planted it below the stone wall that holds up the lawn. It was not happy there - too much sogginess. It got the runoff from the winter rains and steeped for months while its roots suffocated. Then, just as things began to dry out a bit and its prospects were looking up, summer would come. In summer we have to water the lawn or it dies, and as the apple was downhill from the lawn it had soggy feet again. 

This winter it tipped over in a storm. Clearly the rooting thing was not going well. Just as clearly it was not a happy camper. So I looked for a new home for it.

One of the myrtle-leaf oranges flanking the front door had also fallen over. Too many oranges, some rain to make them extra heavy, and a howling wind, and down for the count. 

Since the rats were the only ones eating the oranges (bitter, good only for marmalade and we have blood oranges for that) we were not sorry to see it go. Well, except for the lingering guilt I feel whenever I take anything out. But it’s as if the garden shouted at me - “Over here! Put the apple tree over here!” So I listened - finally. I got rid of the orange and went down to dig up the apple.

It had only put out a few feeding roots since its last move a few years ago, and those were entombed in sticky gray clay. I washed off the clay and hauled it up to the front garden. Up all fifty seven steps and thank you for asking I should be able to walk upright soon. Sideways, but upright.

A bag of steer manure, a few bucket fulls of compost, and a small mound for the apple tree to sit on (that drainage thing again) and in it went. I staked it, spoke kindly to it, sprinkled  some starter fertilizer around, and went in to wash up and take a nap. I was wiped out.

This morning all the buds in the garden have burst except for the traumatized apple tree. I go out occasionally to speak kindly to it and assure it I do want it to grow, these moves are not meant to discourage it, and I did not know there was a hailstorm coming when I tucked it in.

Keep a good thought - if all goes well you will be invited over to pick apples.

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