Out with the old trees….


If you read the entry “johnny appleseed” then you know of the plans to remove our over-the-hill apple trees and plant replacements.

And the new trees arrived two weeks ago, wrapped not in burlap bags sitting shotgun beside a UPS driver. But simply in a long cardboard box marked “Fragile. Live Trees. Rush Delivery!”

“Where you want em?” the FedEx guy called out, eyeing my lop-eared dog.

I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know where to put them.

“Well, I’m not going to plant them for you,” he finally shouted.

Wiseass.

“In the driveway by the pickup,” I finally said. I helped him with the box and we lowered it to the ground like it was a ticking time bomb. It seemed a sensible location — in the sun where the trees would be warm, but out of the way and less likely to be run over. Once the FedEx truck left I bolted for the house and pulled up the nursery website.

If planting cannot be done immediately, fruit trees can be stored in their shipping container for two weeks.

Excellent.

Store them in a cool place. Do NOT leave them in the sun.

Yikes.

Within a week we’d found a tree removal service and they arrived one afternoon like a scene out of the Dr. Suess book The Lorax, armed with a Super-Axe-Hacker, which “whacked off our trees with one big smacker.”

Actually, they came with a chain saw. But results were the same. Trees were chopped, stumps ground up, and I stacked the logs for fire wood.

That was about a week ago and by Sunday afternoon, time was up on the boxed trees. Another couple days they’d be shriveled like prunes. We dragged out our splintered shovel and our rusted post hole digger and cracked open the box. Then got to work.

The official unveiling. You’d think they’d be a little more….substantial.

I expected this project to be a real pain in the butt and it didn’t disappoint. Each plant required an 18-inch hole, but dwarf trees like these must be staked for support. And the posts needed more than a foot and half to survive our hurricane winds.

The first hole wasn’t too bad. Sure, there was a bit of huffing and sighing, and trips to the barn for gloves and additional tools to loosen the dirt. But we got it done.

“this isn’t so bad.”

15 minutes later: “okay, this sucks.”

one down, five to go

The weird thing is that the dirt was manageable in one place, then full of rocks and hard pan clay just 10 feet away. How did we know? We planted the trees 10 ft apart. Other lesson: the earth is softer down the slope and rockiest near the gate. If only we’d known that before we started.

It was a gorgeous afternoon and people zoomed by in convertibles, on motorcycles, and clicking away on bikes. I cursed everyone of them.

Of course the last hole proved the rockiest. I think Martin spent more time chipping away at that one than the other five combined.

the cursed sixth hole

About that time, the flu I’d been ignoring for 2 days had caught up. But I offered moral support.


By 5 pm we’d planted the twigs…I mean, trees. And we did it without unearthing any dead animals (past and present owners have used the orchard as a pet cemetery).

So, barring deer, sheep, high winds and our ineptitude, these fuji and crimson gala twigs will bear fruit as early as 2010. Lovely, aren’t they?