How Soon Will an Instant Orchard Bear Fruit? (Part 1)


Shannon Saia

At the end of October 2012 — on Halloween Day, to be exact — I was clicking my way through the Internet in a fit of restless boredom when I found myself on one of my favorite nursery sites and it struck me: I was about to let another fall pass without planting any fruit trees.

Fruit trees — a small orchard — have long been on the agenda around here. But somehow they had yet to materialize. For one thing, it’s my understanding that trees are best planted in the fall, which means that I only have a window of a few months to order them and get them planted. When I think of them is not usually the time to plant them. And when it’s time to order them, chances are that my car is in the shop, or I’m already struggling to make my budget accommodate Christmas, or one of my dogs gets sick and I have to spend unexpected dollars at the vet. It’s always something, right?

One thing I have learned in my forty-some-odd years is that it is indeed always something, and it will always be something, and if I want to accomplish anything I need to plow ahead regardless.

Being an American with an increasingly diminishing attention span, I was instantly attracted to the “instant orchard” concept. Of course! An instant orchard was, as a matter of fact, exactly what I was looking for. Because let’s face it: it’s hard to plant a tree. It’s hard to do something for which you know that there will be no payoff, no gratification — no fruit, if you will — for years and years and years. Of course it’s responsible to do these things, maybe even noble, and even more than that, it’s necessary. I mean, I save money for my daughter’s college, and I save money for retirement. These are things that don’t enrich me in the short term, and in the short term even make me poorer, but I wouldn’t dream of not doing them. So why is it so doggone hard to plant a tree, knowing that it’ll be next season at best, or a few years down the road at worst, before I start to reap its benefits? This time I whipped out the old “emergency” credit card, limp from overuse on such emergencies as running out of wine, and I prepared to make an anxious, desperate purchase.

But what to buy? It’s a big decision. I want the experience to be successful and satisfying. Plus, I knew that I wanted more than one tree. I wanted variety. I also wanted manageability, so I browsed through the selection of dwarf trees. They promised to reach no more than eight to ten feet at full maturity, a size that meant that I would be able to harvest the fruit myself with a modest-sized ladder.

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