Establishing an Orchard at Grace Ranch

By:  Steven H. Atherton

Hello everyone.  As many of you know, it is our hope to produce as much of our own food as possible.  Over the last couple of years we have visited some local orchards and researched what plants might grow best in this area.  Last year, we planted two pomegranate trees in the garden area and they seemed to do alright.  This year, we figured we’d try establishing an area, near a possible water source, for an orchard.

For those who know the ranch, we fenced in a ¼ acre area, just to the East of the camp kitchen and the power lines.  Our hope, over time, is to recycle grey water from our laundry and mix it with rain water harvested from our buildings in the area to fully water the orchard.  Until that system is implemented, Carter is hauling water.

None of the orchards we have visited are in quite the same environment as we are so we thought we’d do a test planting of one fig (Texas Ever bearing), one persimmon (Fuyu) and two pear (Ayer and Moonglow) trees to get an idea of how things might go.  Our decisions were based in part upon research the Texas Agrilife extension service provides as well as the recommendations of local nurseries.  All agreed that the fig and the persimmon are hardier for our environment than most any other fruit.  Further, they agreed that pears do better than apples and both do better than stone fruits (i.e. peaches) so that is how we chose these four test plantings.

If you click on this link you will find an assortment of photos of the guys fencing in the orchard and of Robin, Carter, Bob and Carrie drilling and/or digging the holes, planting the trees and securing them.  Stay tuned for updates.

Establishing an Orchard at Grace Ranch