Saturday, September 17, 2011

Aronia Berry Planting is Completed!

Yay! The worst part (I hope) is over. The berry plants are all in the ground...all 1500 of them! The day started off beautifully. There were several hot air balloons flying nearby at sunrise as we began our day. The weather was perfect with a nice breeze. All in all it was a good day to spend outdoors.

To prepare for the planting we first marked all the holes. The plants are 4' apart and the rows are 12' apart. We used a long string/cord with a spike on each end. We painted every 4' on the string with black paint and using that as our guide, marked each spot with white spray paint on the ground. Each row was about 75 plants. About 30' had to be left clear on each end to allow for the picker to navigate from row to row. As we finished each row we moved the stakes over another 12'.

We left flags at the ends of each row so they would be more visible. We ran a few shorter rows in front of and behind the shed.

The neighbor has been awesome. It's just natural around here for neighbors to help each other out and that is a value I grew up around and still see. We were able to get the holes dug fairly quickly thanks to a neighbor. As you can see, two of them, a father and son, took the time to do this for us. We know of someone else planting berries that had to use a two-man post hole digger and it took them a good day and a half.

The holes were dug down roughly 10". It is a good idea to have the holes bigger in order to loosen the dirt allowing the roots to fill in.

It almost looks like Caddyshack except the holes are lined up straight~lol!

It was then time to do the actual planting. As you can see by this photo, the plants aren't real big. First the holes were filled with water then the plants were set in tapping so there were no air holes around the roots. We set the plants in so there was a little bowl-shaped indentation to catch water. After the plants were set in we watered again.

We drafted family to help out. Here is our terrific city girl daughter-in-law who is probably wondering what kind of family she married into.

She and our son even brought their two dogs out to help. The two dogs thought they were at doggy-world. They ran so much they were wiped out by the end of the day. This was back breaking work and we are so grateful for the hard work our kids and nephew, great nephew and another friend did. Our daughter and her family didn't get there until lunch time, but even our twin 6 yr old granddaughters pitched in and helped water plants and picked up plant pots. You would think there would be enough dirt to fill the holes back up, but with some of the holes - quite a few actually - we had to add dirt. Luckily we had the lawn tractor and small cart to haul the dirt.

It looked like such a daunting task...

At the end of every four rows, two out and two back, it was time for a break. Here are two of the younger ones who had no idea what they were in for since they had never worked on a farm before.

Of course, everything couldn't go perfectly smooth. Our well had a few problems along the way setting us behind schedule. First the new tank froze up and had to be replaced. Then on Sunday we discovered there had been a leak in the pipes and we had no water pressure. A neighbor to the rescue again. He filled up this large tank for us to use and even left his truck for us to haul it with. That was a lifesaver. One thing new plants need for certain is water! Monday was supposed to be in the 90s F and I'm not sure they would have survived without a good soaking. The well people couldn't come until later Monday :-(

After two days of hard work we were able to pack up the equipment and food and go back to our normal lives. By the way, this is how my husband spent his birthday. You also now know one of the reasons why I haven't been blogging much.

We have been having really cool and rainy weather which is perfect for the plants. I am so glad this part is over! Now it will take about three years for the plants to produce. Until that point we only need to fertilize, mulch and mow. These are grown organically, so it will be all organic fertilizer and mulch. Wish us luck!


shawkl said...

Wow! That was a lot of work! But, I can't wait to see your photos when they start growing good! Even with all the work, I just betcha everyone had a good time...and will have stories to tell about the berry bush planting for years!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

My back hurts just reading about all that work! Now I'm off to check out what Aronia berries are...

Marlene said...

WOW, look at all the beautiful open land, what a blessing. That's a lot of work but, I'm sure so worth it, can't wait to see the Berries. Super nice neighbors, another blessing.