Photos from Kevin's Orchard- June 2021

Feel free to just skim through the photos. But for those interested or who may have a similar tree, I’ve tried to sort of give a “review” of my opinion of most of the trees. I’m up to almost 150 trees now and these are just a few. But I’m really having a banner year in my hobby orchard this year, so I hope you’ll allow me to show some of my trees and their fruit as of yesterday! Thanks for looking.

Below you are looking at 4 fruit trees. In the foreground on the right and left are 2 full size peach trees (Hale Haven and Canadian Harmony - both of which also produce my largest 2 peaches) And while they look completely out of hand in the photo, they actually do have a bowl shape and are clear in the center. But obviously they could use a little (lot) of pruning. But I’m still young enough to use a later and don’t mind doing so for picking 1-2 times a year. And you can imagine the yield I get from these big trees! Directly behind them you can see one O’henry peach on the left, and one giant, 30 foot tall full sized Bartlet Pear tree. No ladder is going to reach those pears you see up top! The O’henry in back left has has that one limb growing straight up and towering above the other peach trees and I DO plan to cut that out. Just so you know how big these are, I planted them 20 feet apart and all 4 have grown together. I like having these overgrown super trees with huge production, but I understand they violate a lot of backyard fruit culture so I’m not suggesting anyone else do this. Almost all of my other peaches are kept much smaller, even more wine-glass shaped, and can be picked from ground. But here are the wild-ones:

Blow is an Asian Pear that is only on its 4th leaf. I forget which variety but its tagged. This guy is a heavy producer ans (so far) not affected by fire blight like most of my Asian Pears have been.

I grow 6 varieties of Paw Paws, but the one shown in the photo is a paw paw that I found in the woods while hunting one fall. THe fruit was about as good tasting as any of my known varieties, and the production was amazing. So that winter I dug up a sucker and planted it in my orchard. The first year it barely grew, second year just a little more. But then it took off. It’s 6 years old now and the production is unreal…just huge clumps (5-6 fruits per clump) hanging all over it). The only bad thing about it is I have to admit that the seed to meat ratio isn’t as good as most of my domesticated varieties. But overall this is a real winner. Both pics are from the same tree.
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Here is a 7 year old Yellow Delish. Everyone really enjoys these for whatever reason- perhaps just the color. THey do make some of my best looking, blemish free apples each year, a lots of them. One again, I could do a better job controlling it/pruning it but it performs great so I basically just cut out anything growing back toward the center and let most of the rest go. :slight_smile:

Both of the next photos are of the same tree: a 9 year old Bruce Plum. This tree, as you can see, produces a HUGE fruit load every single year. THe plums it produces are VERY large- even though I don’t thin as much as I should (yes, believe it or not, I did thin this tree quite a bit on TWO occasions. Yet it remains loaded. The fruit is just starting to ripen and when ripe are a very nice pink color. I’ve trained this one more like a bush over the years so that the fruit heavy limbs can touch the ground at their tips, thereby taking a lot of weight off the scaffolds. I love everything about this tree except one thing: THE TASTE! ha. And that’s kind of important. Others think its pretty good, but no one raves about it. Its not all that sweet and has a strong “plummy” flavor I’m not wild about. :frowning:


These next 2 pics are of an 8 year old June Princess Nectarine. I love almost everything about this one. Tastes wonderful, fruits dependably every single year, ripens in a time window I need (after my early peaches but before my main-season peaches…meaning it ripens last week of June here. Fruit also hangs on tree forever so you don’t have to pick it all at once when it ripens, and they don’t all ripen together. That wouldn’t be good for commercial grower but for backyard growers like us, I like having a few get ripe every day for 2-3 weeks. Just a nice tree with good fruit.


The next 3 photos are pics of 3 different blueberries out of the 9 varieties I grow. I’m trying to show the different phases they are in. This is one of the few things I have done well…I’ve managed to select my blueberries (mostly rabbiteye but not all) in such a way that I literally have blueberries coming in from First week of June through mid August. I love that so much. Usually its just one bush at a time, but that’s enough to help me make blueberry breakfast items all summer long.



4 year old Flavor Grenade fruiting for the first time! Yes, I’m taking a big risk on that one overloaded limb, but to be honest I probably needed to prune it back several feet anyway, so I figure it it broke its not the end of the world. Plus the tip already made it to the ground and in many cases that takes enough weight off to keep it from breaking. And yes, I did thin the tree a LOT…even if you can’t tell!

This is one of my favorite little plums. Its called Morris. I say little because its 7 years old but only about 4.5 feet tall. But its a HUGE producer and fruit is WONDERFUL tasting.

I should have put something in this photo for scale because you really can’t tell how big these are. THey are about 6.5 feet tall and bushy as can be. I have a row here of 12 Chicago Hardy Fig Trees. Some years they do die back to the ground (I’d say about 1 in 3 years) but this year they did not so they will get up to about 8.5 feet by end of summer and very delicious. I grow 6 varieties of figs but Chicago Hardy is probably my favorite. My only problem is that in recent years my figs get some kind of small back bugs with hard shells that crawl inside as soon as the eye opens and they ruin the fruit. ??? I’ve never sprayed figs before but this year I might,

SO, there isn’t much to see in this photo but its meaningful to me because this is my version of the “Franken-pear”. I had a dreaded bradford pear right on the edge of my orchard/front yard. So I cut it down and started grafting to it over time. It now has 6 fruiting varieties on a callery rootstock.

8 year old Snow Queen Nectarine. I’m not a fan. The fruit don’t size up much no matter how much you thin. One year frost killed all but about 10 nects on the whole tree and they still weren’t big at all. Taste isn’t that great either… I know most of the Snow series have good reputation, but this one isn’t very good. Also, you will notice that early in its life it got off to a bad start and grew very lopsided. I’ve been trying to get growth on the other side for years and just now am having some luck. I should cut this guy

Ahhhh…now we are talking! The pic below is of my 9 year old Spring Satin Pluot. I cannot say enough good things about this tree and its fruit. Almost everyone who tastes them go CRAZY for them. As someone who values sweetness over almost every other flavor nuance, this is the fruit for me. Also, their dark purple color REALLY makes them stand out on the tree and everyone comments on how beautiful this tree with ripe fruit looks- see for yourself below. Strangely, some years they have a fuzzy texture similar to a peach (but shorter and finer hairs) and other years they are smooth. Go figure? I also love that these come in really early each year (mid June here in TN)

This one below is one of my younger Saijo trees. It’s on 4th leaf and actually has a few fruit set- though past experience tell me they will likely drop this year. By now most of you are sick of hearing me talk about this fruit, so for the sake of everyone new and old I’ll simply say this is my favorite fruit in my entire orchard and I love it so much that I’ve planted “one more” for 3 years in a row for a total of 4. I have very few other duplicates in my whole orchard so having 4 of these tells you a lot. They are THE BEST!!!
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Below is a 4th leaf Harvester peach. I’ve never got fruit from it so I’ll let you know later what I think!

Shown next is another of my favorite stone fruits. Its called a Karla Rose Nectarine. This one is quite small for a 7 year old tree, but it only gets 1/2 day sun and I find that cuts tree size and production at LEAST in half. But this girl produces very heavy each year, the fruit are always large and sweet and good. Just a great little tree!

Below are 2 photos of my Santa Rosa Plum. It, too, is a bit small for its 6-7 year old age, and I’ve never got fruit off it before. It has an interesting history…I literally saw it in a throw-away pile with lots of dead trees at a local nursery. I saw some signs of life and asked the owner if I could have it and he said sure. (I was also buying trees). It struggled for 2 years and then came out of it but has been slow growing and slower fruiting. BUT it appears this is the year. Its like saving a dog from the shelter…I feel good about it! ha.


Next below is a beautiful, healthy tree and I wish you could see the fruit better, because it is the famous “Donut peach”. Whether its a Saturn or other I’ll never know- it was a big box store tree that simple said “White donut peach”. But they are amazing. I’d never tasted one until this one fruitedl. I always figured they were just average tasting peaches but the shape made them famous. NOT TRUE! Forget about the cute unique shape- grow these for their amazing white peach taste. I grow 3 other varieties of white peaches but this one is the best BY FAR. They also ripen fairly early (July 1 here in TN) and produce crazy large crops. ALso, tree was VERY fast growing. This one is 6 years old and is large as many peach trees twice that old. Look close and you can see the little donuts! Its hard to tell from the photo, but this tree actually is a nice open center shape and only about 6 ft tall at high points. So its classically trained and shaped.

These next two are of an oddly named white nectarine available only from Gurney’s as far as I know. (I’ve seen it listed elsewhere but never available). Its called Yum Yum. I have a few white nectarines- some shown above- but over all this is my favorite. The tree is very precocious . I got a couple fruit on YEAR TWO and several on year 3! THey come in early (late june) and taste great. They are on the small size but not to the point of being a problem.


I wish i had a better photo of the next one, but you can tell its pretty loaded. Its called Blacktail Mountain J. Plum. It looks like the center isn’t pruned out but it is. In spite of it being loaded, I’m not sure I’ll get any fruit. I say that because its a 7 year old tree and has had plums every year the last few years, but always drops every last one before they get ripe. We all know plums drop a lot, but this one drops ALL. No idea why. It isn’t from insect damage. I can[t explain it. But they’ve mad it longer this year and there are more fruit than ever, so maybe this is my year. The plums are clearly going to be HUGE- my biggest. They are already my largest plum and aren’t even starting to ripen yet.

Below is a single limb from a plum called Sweet Rush. I bought it at walmart and have never seen a single word about “sweet rush” plum anywhere I’ve searched. It is supposed to be a yellow plumb, but who really knows. I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo of the whole tree but it is all loaded - though I thinned most of it much heavier than this limb. Its a 6 year old tree but never produced at all before this year…when it is producing like mad!

The shot below is another one that only shows a section of a tree, but I wish I knew what kind of plum it is! I bought it to be a blue Damson but it doesn’t have a blue color that I see in most photos of damson plums. Its a very small plum. But supper sweet and good. One of my favorites. But I’m almost sure its not damson based on it being really sweet and not blue. They are pretty much ripe in the photo, and even when totally ripe they just turn the purple color you already see. I am fairly confident that they are Euro, but I can’t even say that for certain. It was a super slow growing tree and leaves look a bit like my other euros, but again, not exactly. So its a total mystery. Any ideas?

Below here is a photo of some peaches on a SEEDLING tree that is fruiting for first time. All I know for sure is that the seed came from an Indian Free tree and they look like Indian Free but I don’t know the polinator or whether these will actually make decent fruit. Its my first of 2 seedling peaches that are fruiting this year for fi8rst time. I’m excited to see how it turns out. I think (THINK) I read somewhere that Indian Free and Indian Cling tend to grow truer to seed than other peaches, but I may only be wishing I read that?
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Below is one of my Montmorency Cherries

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Wow!!!

Wow is right! How do you keep up with it all?

This is a very good question especially since you have so many stone fruit trees. I bet the hot humid weather you’ve got must conjure up plenty of nasty bugs and diseases. I can hardly even keep them off my handful of trees. Your fruit look so clean, Kevin.

Kevin,
What an amazingly productive orchard you have there!! You should have your own farm stand selling fresh, canned, frozen and dried fruit plus jam, jelly, pies, etc.

Amazing.

Amazing! I love seeing success. It gives me hope for myself.

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Very cool, thanks for sharing.

I’m curious, what is the spacing between the two peach trees in the foreground of the first picture? What is your typical spacing?

Also, I planted this year a bear root Spring Satin, June Princess, and “Rose Princess” (on Halfords) from Freedom Tree Farms in TN. They were 15 bucks each at Kroger. Based on your praise, it would seem they should be a hit.

Awesome orchard and great pics! Great variety of all kinds of good stuff!

You have an enormous supply of fruit. Who will help you pick it all? Wooowwwwww!

He knows his stuff big time. To die for.

Very Nice. I love when people post great pictures, and descriptions.

Do you thin your peaches?

Thank you all so much for the kind words. Certainly I’m not even close to an expert and there are dozens of people right here on this site who know MUCH more than I do. But it is fun to think about how far I’ve come since I started. In case any beginners are feeling overwhelmed, look at my photos and know this: just 12 short years ago I wanted to start with an apple tree so I saved seeds from a honey crisp apple to plant so I’d have my own Honey Crisp apple! haha. Never heard of grafting, didn’t know a single disease or insect that focused on fruit, didn’t know what a “zone” was, and so on. Lots of people know more than me today, but no one knew less than me back then- and 12 years isn’t THAT long really. I felt soooo intimidated reading posts like those on this site. So to you new folks, hang in there- you can do this!

TO answer a few questions:

@northwoodswis4 and others who asked how I manage it all : Honestly it just doesn’t seem as overwhelming as you would think. Without question the spraying is the worst part, and I would desperately like to get an airblast sprayer but $4k to $9k is just too much to spend on a hobby orchard with no income to speak of. So I get by with the $200 electric sprayers. Pruning gets done a little at a time ALL YEAR ROUND and that has never been a problem (ie summer pruning works just fine for me on most fruits). Picking isn’t bad because it just sort of turns out that aeven with about 150 trees I never have more than a few coming in at one time. Finally, keep in mind that I’m divorced and have no kids. So I really have a lot more spare time than most of you probably do.

@PharmerDrewee Thanks. As for my fruit mostly being blemish free, I think that is largely a function of my overspending on fungicides and also spraying for bugs as often as labels allow. Trust me, I had plenty of years where bugs and diseases either destroyed my crops or left it ugly as heck. But I finally found what works for me, which is rotating Captan and Myclobutanil, and using Imidan for insects (and sevin for the few weeks Japanese Beatles are active). That combination is what works for me on almost everything I spray.

@sockworth Just so you know, I love Freedom Tree Farms and a great many of my trees come from them, And most come from them via Kroger, just like you mentioned! really. I’ve done a lot of big-box store purchasing over the years- which many people strongly disagree with. But of all the repeated purchases I’ve made from countless retail stores, the FTF trees from Kroger tend to be the most true to label, the healthiest trees, AND the cheapest! They also tend to pick great varieties, IMHO. So yes, keep it up. I have the 3 you mentioned and like them all 3 very much , I can’t think of a time I’ve been disappointed with a FTF purchase.
Oh…spacing. Well, my spacing is customarily 18 feet between trees and 20 feet between rows. But the 4 full size (but labeled semi-dwarf) trees shown in the first photo above that you asked about were 20 x 20. And yet those trees are still intertwined and overlapping. But to be fair, that is because they are fully grown trees AND because I pretty much allowed them to get overgrown. I kept the center clear, but almost never cut back the ends and also allowed them to get too tall. I don’t regret this and enjoy getting such massive harvests from individual trees. But its not what I’d recommend for anyone with space limitations of any kind. Understand that I have several acres to spread my trees over, so I’m lucky but most people can’t say that. Certainly you could space trees much closer than my 20 x 20 or 20 x 18. But doing so will require more work to keep them smaller. My system really just requires me to keep the center pruned clean and to cut anything growing straight up or back toward center. But I’m able to let all the ends go and let the trees get about as wide as they want to. I like this method, but its not for most situations and I know that.

@SpudDaddy Oh yea…I absolutely thin my peaches. Pretty hard in fact. But like other things, I have my own unique way that is not what experts would recommend. I tend to thin my peaches in phases- making a first pass, waiting a week or so, doing it again, waiting, doing it a final time. Then it seems everytime I walk by one even after “final” thinning I always spot a few too close together and have to pluck a few more. There is a little more to this method than just my heart strings preventing me from pulling off and throwing away good fruit- though that may be part of it. But this allows me to see which fruits end up getting insect bites or bird pecks or staying small, and discarding them over time while leaving the larger, heathier, more perfect peaches. As long as I get it all done by the time they reach golf ball size at worst, I find little difference in this method and doing a hard thinning in one passing. One thing I absolutely have found, is that thinning is critical for peaches. Critical. Makes them MUCH MUCH larger but also sweeter and better. No doubt about it. Its hard to do both physically and psychologically but absolutely necessary…

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@thecityman I agree, Freedom Tree Farm trees are totally top bang for the buck. Out in the storefront, I was able to pick out the best trees of the lot, go inside the store and do a self checkout. 5 potted (but essentially bare root) trees for a whopping 75 bucks. Amazing and too good to pass up. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more FTF trees again at Kroger next March!

On spacing, I decided to have trees much tighter in a honeycomb formation 8ft apart, like in the picture. My orchard is on a decent slope (~15 deg) and the disadvantage being that ladder usage there is unsafe. However, perhaps one advantage of the slope is that the base of the trees are staggered in height, making branch crossings between equally tall trees more difficult.

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That is very interesting. And like I said, I know I have a lot more space than many growers so I am not nearly as conservative as I could be on space. Most people put trees closer than I do and I don’t blame them. The only thing that worries me about your honeycomb arrangement is that it doesn’t seem practical for getting a tractor or mobile sprayer between rows. I really enjoy being able to just drive down a row and spray trees on both sides of my path at the same time. It would be even easier with an air blast sprayer, but my electric sprayers have such a long hose that I can just stop in the center of 4 trees and walk around them one at a time and spray all 4 before having to move my tractor down the row to the next 4 trees, and so on. But I don’t know how many trees you plan to have, so you may be just carrying a hand sprayer around and not using a tractor to mow, etc?

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Wow!! Lot of fruits, lot of works. Very impressive, Kevin :+1::+1:You need whole forum members help to eat all these fruits. I am going to quit growing fruits myself and just make couple of trips down to your orchard every summer.

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You’re right, the orchard layout I came up with isn’t good for tractors, so it may only be suitable for small pedestrian orchards from a maintenance perspective.

The slope on which I planted trees is a ~1/4 acre unused hayfield. I mainly keep the footpath clear with a string trimmer once in a while. The slope is too dangerous for tractors.

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Kevin you have been a busy man. Everything looks great.

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Wow my friend! That’s amazing and truly a tremendous amount of fruit. Now I understand why you donate so much of it. You must be the gift basket king at the office. I’m sure all of your co-workers sit around the office and think what is Kevin bringing us today?

I have trouble keeping up with my 20 trees. I’m not sure how you do it. Well done.

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@thecityman
Kevin,

Things are looking beautiful - good job.

I was wondering, how was the survival-revival of individuall affected trees from that spraying incident that you had a few years back.

I don’t remember any discussion as to the final count of loses-survivals-revivals.

Looks like you are in a good place now.

Good Luck

Mike

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