It was an exciting couple days last Thursday and Friday… A particular empty plot in the middle of our orchard rang out with music and excited voices. It was the beginning of a new orchard!
As with most other things in farming, deciding when to plant trees is all about the soil. We have to wait for the perfect dry to moist ratio underground and only then does Farmer Al know it’s time. Last week, not only was the soil in perfect condition for our new nectarine orchard, but it was good for planting some more cherry and pear trees too!
These new trees were grown at a specialized nursery before they found a home at our farm, so technically we arereplanting them. At this stage of growth, they will be the most successful in our soil but they are also vulnerable to diseases that affect the roots. To defend them against such fungal and bacterial diseases, we spray beneficial bacteria on the roots as we plant them. These bacteria solutions will help fortify the tree’s immune system and prevent disease. With diseases like “crown gall” that are especially pervasive in stone fruit orchards, a farmer might not even know a tree is infected until it starts showing signs up to 10 years after planting! At that point, there’s not much you can do to save it and within another 10 years it will be dead. That’s why it’s so important to prepare the trees now, in their infancy, so we can have orchards of 30-year-old trees like we had on the same ground as this new orchard has been planted.
Farmer Al has been using a beneficial bacteria spray called “GallTrol” for more than 30 years. It was invented by a UC Berkeley professor as an organic solution to preventing crown gall. Farmer Al used to buy it directly from him way back when in a Bevmo parking lot out in Orinda! Now the product is one of the widest used by organic stone fruit farmers to keep their orchard safe.
All in all we planted 600 nectarine, 400 cherry, and 400 pear trees–all in the span of two days! Check out our Instagram to see how quickly the team can plant one tree. It’s pretty impressive. The nectarine trees will start producing a small harvest by the “third leaf”, meaning the third time the trees have leafed out since we planted them. There’s a lot to look forward to.