Late winter to early spring is the time to get out and inspect your fruit trees. Over the winter season we have had our sheep and chickens working together to weed and fertilize our old peach tree. After a record breaking cold week (-11 degrees) in February accompanied by a foot of blanketed snow, tempuratures have sprung forward in true Oklahoma weather fashion (a little ahead of its proper season), and the 60 degree weather had the farmer feeling a little, peachy! Today Charles did some final grass (Bermuda) removal around the base of the peach.
Before proceeding with details of care of for this still young and gorgeous girl, a little history. She is half the tree she once was, literally. Just to the east of this tree used to sit a very large, old, dead tree. Seasonal Oklahoma wind had its' way and brought that old, dead, tree down right on our peach. The lessons you can learn from trees is immeasurable, but that's for another blog. The dead tree left its' memory. It wasn't in the place it once stood but rather in the scar it placed on the peach. After splitting our beautiful peach almost completely in half we were most certain we would lose her. We waited patiently to see what time would heal and just how strong this ol' girl was. Much to our suprise and most certainly our delight, this peach showed her strength the following spring budding her deep green leaves. That spring brought a late frost and kept her from fruiting. I like to believe it was divine design that way. She needed a season of rest. Time to let her leaves perform their job and her roots to resettle. Time to continue to heal without the burden of focusing her energy on production. Last year she budded, she bloomed and though minimally, she bore fruit! This year this girl will be struting her stuff in a new pair of shoes! The farmer, Charles, and his best hand, Eliam, raked up a bit of spot manure from around the site and spread around the drip line of the tree. A bit of wood ash was sprinkled around followed by some farmmade compost. They covered that with a few layers of cardboard. The next layer was about 1" of well composted wood chips. After the layers were complete they liberally sprinkled 3 types of clover seed and topped it all off with some field straw.
Seem like a lot? So does 100 hours of planning until you only have to do one hour of labor! The goal in this list of elements are long term design. This is a peach tree guild. There is also a gojiberry and mimose at the base of the tree. Upcoming will be a perimeter of Day Lilly transplanted around the new clover. With this design working well, the only input for this tree, in the future, will be a sprinkle of wood ash around it one time per year and a small prune. The system should self maintain a good balance of N-K-P through the natural break down of the lilly, the chop mulch of Mimosa and nitrogen fixing of clover and Mimosa. The fruits of this labor will be enjoyed for many years to come!