Monday, February 18, 2008

More from the orchard...
This first picture is Grand Prize plums...yummy!

The rest of the pictures are scanned in photos...the orchard I worked at was small. The owner went in business with a friend not far from the orchard. There we raised these beautiful blackberries, as well as strawberries, raspberries, watermelons, cantaloupe, pumpkins, decorative gourds, and we raised tomatoes one year. Oh, I forgot we had blueberries bushes that started baring fruit.

We planted these peach trees the first year I worked there year round. I don't remember how long it took to get this crop of peaches and nectarines...not very long at all. Out of probably 8 years it was the only crop that survived our harsh winters. Both my boss and the other guy had health issues; these trees along with five(eta: I don't know why I wrote five--it was more like 10 or 12 ) long, long rows of peach trees that his daughter-in-law and I bud-grafted were bulldozed out. The strawberry rows were plowed out...a sad but happy time for me in so many ways. The strawberries all had drip irrigation, and were planted on small ridges covered through the plastic film that has become popular here in the past years. The drip tube was buried in the ridge under the plastic film layer. One of my many jobs was to get the irrigation going once spring rolled around. The ground was almost pure sand so irrigation was a must. That was the chore that I was not going to miss. The first patch had 50 rows of strawberries that were 400 feet long, then we added to them each year. The rows added were 800 feet long though. I do miss working on the irrigation at all...the only way I survived it was to look at it as one giant puzzle!

I had to walk the row to the end and feel the end of the irrigation line to see if water was reaching the end. As many times as not, it wasn't. So then I would walk back and every so often dig down to find the plastic drip tube. When I found where the water was, then I had to figure out where the leak was--sometimes it was easy to find cause there would be a big, noticeable wet spot. But lots of times there were numerous places where mice had chewed, or maybe a deer had bounded through and the hoof sunk deep enough to cut the line. No, repairing irrigation lines is not my favorite job.

Sampling the fruit was never a chore--one of these peaches would not be a bad thing right now! Since I worked there, fruit bought in stores just never tastes quite as good. And apples are never as good as when you reach and pick one and eat it!