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Thursday, January 1, 2009

An Orchard

Those of you that have gardened before are probably finding your mailbox stuffed with seed catalogs like me.

I have a little cleared section of land that I am wanting to build an orchard with. So, the tree catalogs got me drooling.

I am so sick of how much good food (like raw fruit and vegetables) cost me at the store! Cherries are $8-$10 a bag!!! For the cost of 3 bags of cherries I can get a cherry tree or bush that will last me years and give more than 3 bags of cherries! And almonds cost $8 a large bag. For the cost of 4 bags you can buy an almond tree.

Saving money is my main reason for starting gardening. For some work and a bit of money, I can save money as long as I stay with my property for 4 or 5 more years. I am going to pick some of the things that cost me the most and start growing those. I am focusing on my orchard this year since it will take 2-3 years to get a crop.

The catalog I got was Stark Bro's. Their slogan: "Money grows on trees." Read their intro for this slogan:
"Now more than ever, it pays to grow your own. Just consider a single standard peach tree:
*A mature tree, when properly maintained, may bear 150 pounds of peaches per year.
*With peaches from local orchards selling for about $1.60 per pound in season, that's about $240 in peaches per year to enjoy and share with friends and neighbors.
*That same tree can be expected to bear a full crop for more than 20 years.
*That can be more than $4,800 in peaches all from a single tree costing less than $25 in our catalog."

What fruit I don't can or freeze, I will sell at the local farmer's market. I was lucky to buy a property with mature pear trees. Besides the boxes I gave away to friends and family, ate ourselves and rotted on the ground, I made one measly trip to the farmer's market, sold them for $.50/lb and made $15 and traded some for a pumpkin. The price of a pear tree is $25. If I had only went one more time, I most likely could have recouped my money for a pear tree. So, once my trees produce, I will take a few box loads to the farmer's market and most likely recover my purchase price.

Now, if you only have a small piece of land or no land at all, don't give up completely. They make dwarf sized trees and a few patio miniature trees that stay in pots or narrow trees that will grow in alleyway-like spaces for those with little or no land.


Heather - said...

Great article! I have always wanted to have fruit trees but I don't know much about it. How long after they are transplanted into your yard will fruit trees bear fruit?

I live in a neighborhood with LOTS of farms, so we have been able to pick berries, apples, and other produce for very cheap, but owning our own could be even better!

Melissa Jagears said...

Usually 2-3 years, they should say in the catalogs in their descriptions. I wouldn't say less than 2 for almost every tree ordered from a catalog. So you are out a bit of money for awhile, but it should pay you back fairly quickly once they produce.

Then of course you could go to a nursery and get larger trees, they are usually closer to $50-$60 dollars, but they will more likely bear fruit sooner and they are chosen by the nursery in your area because those trees are known to thrive in your area. Since most local nurseries have a money back guarantee, they only choose good plants for your area.