Sun-filled, warm days have graced Frog Hollow Farm this past week. We welcome the short sleeve weather, understanding the impact it has on the fruit to come this summer (and thankful for a break from all the rain!). As our men continue thinning our trees, we are in the midst of preparing for the years to come! Due to the sun and wind we have had, the soil is the perfect condition for us to begin planting thousands of new saplings — 8,000 new trees to be exact.
For the past two months, we have stored these 8,000 saplings we received from the nursery in our cold storage as the ground has been too wet and muddy. Due to the drought in past years, we have been able to plant as early as January, but this year we experienced rain up to March 5th! About a week later, however, the ground is dry and perfect for planting. The good news is that once the ground is at that perfect condition, our men can plant quickly. Their shovels go into the ground almost effortlessly and the soil makes perfect pyramid piles that make it easy to refill the holes. We started planting on a plot of land that we are currently renting, where the soil dried several days before other ground that we reserved for planting. Currently our men have planted over 3,000 trees in three days!
When planting it is important to wait for the ground to be ready. With all the rain we have had, we have had to extend copious amounts of patience, but the time is finally here! We know we can begin planting when a shovel cuts easily through the earth and comes up with loose, moist dirt that contains no clumps, almost like sand. When you squeeze the dirt it should form into a mud ball that can be easily broken apart. Loose soil is important because clumpy soil allows for too many air pockets and it is important that all the roots of the tree have even contact with the soil. When planting, we have two men men shoveling a single hole and one planter holding the tree. The planter moves the tree around as the shovelers are refilling the holes. The planter will pull the tree up two or three inches to allow all the roots to receive full contact from the soil.
The saplings we are planting are only about a half inch in diameter, approximately six feet tall, contain only a few branches, and have small roots. The roots of the tree are imperative to tree growth as the roots access all nutrients in the soil for the tree. In order to help support the growth of the roots of our new trees, we bought dormant mycorrhizae fungus in small sacks that we throw into each hole. We then plant the tree over the bag. The mycorrhizae comes to life when moisturized and forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the trees.
We plant with our CSA members like you in mind! We are planting varieties of Asian pears to expand our fruit through the fall and into winter. Asian pears store incredibly well and could provide a sweet, kid approved fruit for us througho
ut the winter into February or March! We are also planting mulberry trees — a brand new fruit to the marketplace with less than 100 acres planted in California. Lastly, we are looking to expand our apricot diversity by planting new varieties that we have never planted before. Though these fruits take a few years to come to your home, we plan ahead to sustain and grow our farm and CSA for many years to come. We look forward to many more delicious seasons and to trying new delicious varieties and fruits together!