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How to Plant an Orchard: Part 1

Kent grew up with mature apple trees in his yard and swears that nothing tastes better than an apple fresh off the tree. I mean, obviously, but it has led him to need apple trees in any yard he owns. At our last house, we planted three apple trees. Here in Seekonk: 250, so far. It's a good thing we're not planning to ever move because at that rate we'd have to plant 20,800 or so trees at the next place!

Family picking apples from trees
Picking Our Own Apples
Rows of bare root apple trees
Initial Appaloosa Orchards Planting

A lot of large orchards typically plant dwarf apple trees because they can maximize harvest output. We chose to go with semi-dwarf trees because they will be sturdier and able to stand on their own without being staked. For our size of operation, these trees should provide plenty of apples. Our initial planting of 250 trees is made up of 5 different varieties of apples. While we clear the land, we've temporarily planted them in our "nursery," as shown in the picture above, where they can more easily be watered and protected from the local wildlife. But the trees won't be happy here for long. They need space to spread their roots and branches!

While the site and sound of a mature tree coming down is impressive, there's an element of sadness every time. I don't want to go full tree hugger on you, but trees are amazing. Becoming more familiar with woodworking has given me an even greater appreciation for them. Knowing that more trees will take it's place is a comfort, but being able to make a piece of furniture that celebrates that natural beauty of the wood is a privilege.

Typically the lumberjack season for us is in the winter, when the trees are free of leaves and the cooler temperatures make the sweaty work a little more bearable. Cutting down trees can be a dangerous business and we take the safety of all involved seriously. Helmut (the chainsaw) is a powerful ally, but with one slip he can become your worst enemy.

Start of land clearing for the orchard

To clear the number of trees we needed to, we've recruited help from some experienced friends and hosted "Chainsaw parties". It can't be work if it's a party, right? Over the last three years, we've cleared over 100 trees from the property. Helmut cuts them down, Sheila moves them, and Millie turns them into usable lumber. It's so amazing to be able to see the full cycle all in one place.

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