Final 2023 Zone 6B Mini-Orchard Plan in MA

It depends on the soil. I have poor soil. I don’t think my trees roots could go very deep. Last summer, I had to water my 1 and 2 years old trees.

My jujubes needed watering during the drought to keep the fruit texture crisp.


Last fall, I already had my landscaper run a main line in the area where the trees will go. After I plant the trees he’ll run the drip lines to the individual trees. The area is notoriously dry and the soil during dry spells, it becomes almost hydrophobic. I added some compost and covered it with a weed barrier for now. After I’m done planting, I’ll throw grass seed in the area, mulch around the fruit trees and enclose them in protective fencing to keep away rabbits and hopefully deer. I also have some ultrasonic motion activated devices that have been helping against the deer with the arborvitae that my wife insisted on putting around the property.

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@mamuang I did a search and saw you’re a fan of Luna Sensation. When and how often do you use it on your plums, peaches, apples and asian pears?

I was interested but did not buy it due to it being pricey. I use Indar.

Do research and make notes but do not buy anything. These chemicals have shelf life. No need to buy them to sit in your shelf for 2-3 years.

The only thing you may want to buy this year is Kocide 3000. You may be able to spray it for a preventative measure by the end of this season or next spring.

That’s my advice.

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@mamuang @JinMA @SMC_zone6 Now I want to graft the crabapple with something else too, in addition to Roxbury Russet, that I already ordered months ago. Unfortunately I didn’t understand it was a triploid and was not suitable as a pollinator for my WineCrisp. I have several crabapple trees in my property that will act as pollinators. I want to trim one of those crabapple trees and attempt to graft it with another variety that will be suitable for my situation. Which one would you pick that is also not prone to many problems, yet delicious? Would a variety like Sweet Sixteen work? A few more days left to order from Fedco Trees…

@Marco – You didn’t ask me (in fairness, I wasn’t involved until now), but that never stopped me!

I’m a fan of disease-resistant cultivars, though they still need bug spray. Enterprise has been a star performer for me in two locations over 30+ years. It tastes great, different than anything you’ll buy in a grocery store. It ripens on the late side (Nov) and stores well.

I guess I can second the recommendation of Oxford Black (above), even though I ripened only my first two this year. What a beautiful fruit! And tasty. Also on the late side. See below.

Both varieties bloom at the same time as Roxbury Russet.


@jrd51 Hi Joe! Thank you for the suggestion of Enterprise. I am 100% with you on disease-resistant varieties. Unfortunately Fedo doesn’t carry Enterprise scions. They have Black Oxford. Is this the same as Oxford Black that you mentioned? Otherwise… Any recommendations from this list that you believe would be best suited for my situation? I could try grafting Black Oxford, Freedom, or Sweet Sixteen and Roxbury Russet on the 8-inch diameter Crabtree trunk that I intend to trim down?

@Marco – My bad – yes, my tree is Black Oxford. I bought it from Fedco, what you see is what you’ll get.

I have a semi-dwarf Enterprise that will be pruned shortly. You can have all the sticks you’ll ever need. LMK.

FWIW, I don’t grow Freedom but what I’ve read suggests that it is inferior to other apples coming out of that program. Liberty, which I do grow, is very good provided you let it ripen fully, but unfortunately I believe that it is also triploid. So that doesn’t solve your pollination problem.

I grow roughly 30 of the varieties on Fed’s scion list, many started from scions purchased from Fedco. The problem making a recommendation is that most of the apples are cider varieties, not dessert varieties. They tend to be either very sharp or very tannic.

When selecting varieties, I tried to avoid any varieties with apparent susceptibility to disease. So for example, the Cox family is known to produce delicious apples but they are reportedly hard to grow. I’ve got a few other names such as Duchess of Oldenburg that sound promising for dessert or baking but haven’t fruited for me yet. Among the apples I don’t own I’d think about Gala, which is a descendant of Kidd’s Orange Red mentioned above. It’s diploid and in the same pollination group as the others.

There are a number of excellent russets but as you already have RR, so I’d pick something different just for variety. Enterprise is still my best recommendation that I’ve grown and that ain’t a russet. So that would be Black Oxford, Enterprise and Roxbury Russet.

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@jrd51 Thank you Joe. I’ll definitely take your offer for Enterprise scions! I’ll be very happy to pay for postage and any other expenses if you will be kind to mail them out for me.

I had ordered 3x 8” scions of Roxbury Russet from Fedco and I called them today to swap out 2 of those scions for a Black Oxford and a Sweet Sixteen. This is meant to be an experiment on an existing crabapple, that I don’t even know if it will even work. I was planning to cut it down and attempt to graft several varieties on the 8-9” diameter trunk. I might be able to place up to 8 grafts to see what takes. If all fails, I’ll graft on the WineCrisp once it becomes more established.

Black Oxford is a nice apple that keeps well and can be used for lots of things, and it’s been a healthy, strong-growing tree for us.

Since you have the crabapple to work with, I might also suggest adding an early and mid-season variety to your lineup. For mid-season, there are a ton of options - I’ve listed the few I have experience with above. For early, the best I’ve had locally grown are William’s Pride and Zestar.

Also, different people will likely have different takes on this, but if your crabapple has a decent structure established, I might be inclined to cut back and graft to a scaffold branch, or alternatively graft to a vigorous shoot on a scaffold branch and then prune to make that the new scaffold. (Rather than cutting back to the main trunk.)

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@JinMA Thank you for all the suggestions! I appreciate it. I am very new to grafting, so I will take as many pointers as I can.

The crabapple of interest is the one to the right. I marked where I was intending to chop it off for grafting. Behind it are more crabapple trees, which are not within my property line.

And for reference to the crabapple tree (on the right) is the 100 ft stretch, currently lined with the weedblocker, where I intend to start my mini orchard as planned in the first post.

Re Centennial: Ok, just PM me your mailing address. I may have it but just to be sure.

I agree totally with @JinMA that it would be better to select scaffolds for grafting. Pick at least as many scaffolds as you have varieties. Unfortunately your pictured tree has a very tall trunk before gets many branches.

For early varieties, I’ve grown Redfree (not Redfield) and Centennial. Redfree is a crisp, acidic, sweet apple bred to be disease free. As you’d expect, it’s bright red. Centennial is a sweet, floral crab. It’s small, but a perfect snack. The color is a beautiful pink and yellow. I might have wood from both. If I remember right, Centennial is edible in August/early Sept. Redfree maybe late Sept.

Mid-season is tougher.

@jrd51 The conundrum is that scaffolds on the crabapple are so high. I don’t know if I have better options, other than chopping it down to where I marked it and bark grafting around the circumference of the trunk. Please let me know if I have better options.

No, given the shape of the tree, I don’t know a better option. I probably wouldn’t do more than 4 grafts / varieties.

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Today I dumped the first 8 cubic yards in the orchard area. 8 more to go. The nursery that brought the soil/compost mixture chickened out at the last minute and refused to dump it straight on top of the weed blocker. He was afraid his truck didn’t have enough traction. He dumped it on the driveway and I had to wheel barrow it to destination manually. I wasn’t too happy about it.

Holes have been dug and soil has been spread. Awaiting for my bareroot apple, pear, prune and peach trees to arrive within the next week or 2.


Awesome prep!

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Thank you Joe! I’m going to get about 4 yards of topsoil to put on top of the compost/soil mixture. Then in the third week of April, I’ll have my landscaper come put down the irrigation lines for the new grass area and the drip lines for the trees. The main line is already in place.

We have progress. :blush:

@jrd51 My first apple grafts. Enterprise, Black Oxford, Roxbury Russet and Sweet Sixteen grafted on crabapple. I hope they take. Anything that doesn’t take will be replaced with another Enterprise. :blush:


Good luck and keep us posted!

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