How Soon Will an Instant Orchard Bear Fruit? (Part 2)


| 10/17/2016 12:43:00 PM


Tags: fruit trees, Saia, Maryland,

Shannon Saia

For the beginning of this story, see: How Soon Will an Instant Orchard Bear Fruit? (Part 1)

The trees finally arrived in late December. They came all together in one very narrow, very tall box that I found leaning against my front door one evening. It was too dark to plant them then, so I drug the box inside and pried it open to inspect the goods. Trees are shipped when they are dormant, and my trees were “bare root.” If you have ever ordered a tree and received a stick, you’ll know what I was feeling when I opened the box. This is it? I hauled the box out onto the deck and left it there until the next day when, on a cold, damp, grey morning, I went outside to inspect them.

When I pulled them out of the box and very gently disentangled them, what struck me most was how very different these three “sticks” looked. For one thing, they were three quite distinct colors. Propped up side by side, they looked like a United Colors of Benneton ad on the side of a bus. The structure of the branches was different from tree to tree, too. Who knew?

I drug them all over to the small hill I had chosen as the site of my orchard. I laid them out on their sides with their tops pointing to approximately the spot where I intended to plant them. The roots of each tree were wrapped in black plastic and taped up securely. They were damp, and an amber-colored liquid was leaking out of them, which totally freaked me out. When I opened this suspicious-looking package, I found the roots were packed in some kind of orange, gel-like substance that looked like a translucent cottage cheese, presumably to keep the roots damp. When I lifted the roots out of this stuff, I was surprised that even the roots looked like sticks — or, more accurately, like a claw.

All of which is to say that it takes a real feat of imagination to envision the bare-root tree as a verdant and burgeoning resident of Eden.




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