Orchard Abuse

We’ve been mulching orchard this last week.

Pears and gooseberries mulched and awaiting straw
Pears and gooseberries mulched and awaiting straw

It’s amazing how there can be not one bit of green anywhere in spring except the crab and brome grass wrapping itself around pear trees and honeyberries!  To give them another chance to establish this year, we again put down scavenged cardboard and covered casino it with horse manure – mostly composted – from our neighbor Amy Lynch. Next step will be straw, but for now the weeds are tamped down for a while. At the very least we’re building soil around each plant with a mix of greens and browns composting in place.

But there seems to be no way to beat the deer except with welded wire cages. Our pears are looking pretty happy thanks to that, the gooseberry cultivars have their own natural defense, the elderberries are not tempting to deer, but the honeyberries and heart nuts both got nailed very effectively. I call it orchard abuse.

Honeyberry with hoof print day after mulching, but not browsed thanks to Plantskyd
Honeyberry with hoof print day after mulching. Not browsed thanks to Plantskyd

The honeys are smaller than they were when we planted them, and many of the heart nuts are shredded on top and have resprouted from the bottom. We’ll be putting real tree shelters on them this year. For now, we’ve sprayed

browsed heart nut tree with regrowth
Browsed heart nut tree with regrowth

everything with PlantSkydd – a stinky solution of animal blood that lasts for a couple of months at a time.


Special thanks to our friend Dee for helping us beat the clock on the weeds this week! There’s more to be done, and we’re putting out the call to all WWOOFers who want to get in on the action this spring.