Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Managing the Orchard

Anyone who has gardened for more than a year or two knows that the garden is never finished. Most great gardens are in a constant state of transition as the gardener discovers which plants flourish in any specific location and which do not. This is also true at our fruit orchard here at Red Bucket Farm.

Last year, our large peach tree produced ninety pounds of juicy sweet fruit. We're still eating from that harvest! But the winter of 2013-14 was cold and colder, and the peach tree has barely survived. This tree is located at the bottom of the hill in a micro-climate that didn't fare as well as the trees up the hill. It didn't bloom this spring at all, and we're nursing it with chicken poop tea and hoping that it will recover this summer to produce again in 2015.

On the other hand, our three cherry trees bloomed beautifully and are developing little fruits. Hooray for winter-hardy pie cherries!

The new trees in the front yard orchard are doing well, or most of them are. Two peach trees, three pear trees and one apricot tree all bloomed lightly and are making a few small fruits---not bad considering these are still very small trees. One additional apricot tree (important for cross pollination) is struggling. This is the second tree of that variety we've planted in that location and it's just not happy. We suspect that the roots are too wet and the soil isn't draining well. We've removed the tree to a container for recuperation, and we've ordered a different apricot variety to plant in its place. We'll create a mounded hill to help with drainage and we'll amend the soil with Turface and chicken grit.

Every evening we wander through the orchard and check on our trees. Slowly we're discovering which trees belong in each location. A fruit tree gives a lot of bang for your buck, so it pays to be attentive and invest in the home orchard.


  1. We had a bumper pear crop last year and our tree is taking the year off too--but our cherry looks good too. I hope your peach recovers--last season was so epic for fruit I can see how a harsh winter could be hard on a younger tree. They are pretty resilient though!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sara! I just read the listserv for the Organic Tree Fruit Association, and many of them were saying they had 100% bud kill on peach trees, as well as 95% bud kill on apricots and others. We are not alone!