Visit to the Orchard

Hope you had a great weekend.  Did you do anything fun?  Saturday, hubby and I visited the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardener’s Tree Fruit Orchard.  We’ve wanted to go the orchard for some time now, but with all of the projects in our life, it’s been challenging to make time for a visit. On Saturday, that item on our to do list changed from “someday” to “done”.

The weather was still toasty on Saturday so we grabbed some cold waters, loaded up into the car and headed out about 9:30AM.  Hubby and I would have been out of the house earlier, but we discussed the trip for about ½ hour so… go, don’t go, go.  If you’ve done back to back… to back… home projects, then you know when you have a short break all you want to do is sit around and veg-out.  Once we finally got up off the couch, the trip was in motion. 

The orchard is only about a 15-minute drive from our house, so the drive was effortless and we arrived at the orchard around 9:45AM.  The weather forecast for Saturday was rain and thunderstorms.  We were greeted by a 100°F temperature and not a rain cloud in sight. Despite the heat, we were glad we went.

After entering through the gate, just off of Horse Drive and N. Decatur, you walk down a dirt road past several rows of fruit trees…

…to a cluster of small structures.  This is where we met some of the orchard volunteers and where their fruit and veggie sales take place.

“Cliff”, our tour guide, walked us through the orchard and gave us a very informative talk about the orchard, fruit trees, vineyard, etc.  It was very interesting to see what the orchard was doing firsthand and to learn about some of their techniques, successes and challenges.  Cliff talked a little about watering fruit trees.  Currently, the orchard is watering 3 times a week about 20 gallons of water per watering.

Throughout our tour, we noticed several trees loaded with fruit.  The fruit-laden trees were mostly apples, pears, and pomegranates and will be harvested soon and sold at the orchard’s stand.

I wanted to point out that this tree is a good example of a “ladderless” tree (a tree that does not require a ladder to harvest – all the fruit is within arm’s reach).  This tree is a little over 6 feet tall.

In addition to the large variety of fruit trees at the orchard, they also have a table grape and wine grape vineyard.

Our tour guide mentioned that desert squirrels had devastated this year’s vineyard crops.  To combat this issue, the orchard staff installed a predator perch (the long pole leaning in the photo) and an owl box (in the distance – to the left of the tallest pine tree).  Their hope is to encourage these predators to stay in the orchard and eliminate the squirrels.

The orchard also maintains several honeybee boxes within the property.  These honeybees pollinate the fruit trees and veggies at the orchard.

In addition to fruit tree evaluations, the orchard also grows a variety of vegetables to help identify veggies varieties that will grow and flourish in the desert.  These are hot peppers growing in mounded beds.  As you can see in the photo, the pepper plants were deep green and lush and looked very healthy.  In addition to the hot peppers, the orchard was also growing…

Asparagus, and…

a number of other plants including strawberries and corn.

Most everything we saw at the orchard was healthy looking and green.

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you may remember that I talked about high density planting.  Here is a perfect example of high density planting… espaliered apple trees along the fence at the front gate.  There were a few espaliered asian pears further down the fence that were just loaded with an unbelievable amount of fruit.

In total, our visit to the orchard lasted about an hour.  As we were making our way back down the dirt road to where our car was parked, we stopped to say thank you for the tour and purchased a small helping of freshly harvested fruits and veggies.  Yum!  All in all, the short visit was an informative one and well worth the time (and the heat).

Here’s our purchase all cleaned up and ready for eatin’.  The plum-like yellow-green and blush colored fruit in the foreground are pluots (Flavor King and Flavor Queen).  When we discovered what they were, we placed a handful in our bag.  One of the orchard volunteers cut up some of the fruit and gave it to us to try.  Both hubby and I were blown away.  The flavor was incredible and sooooo sweet!  Right at that moment, hubby and I looked at each other in sheer delight. See, we had never tasted these pluots before and we were both ecstatic about that fact that we planted both a Flavor King and a Flavor Queen in our backyard orchard. AWESOME!

Sweets for My Sweets

In addition to our trip to the orchard, I also found time this weekend to bake some cookies for my hubby.  I like to make up several batches at one time (about 9 dozen or so) bake 1 dozen for the week and freeze the rest for later.  This large batch of cookies will last us for 4-6 months.  When we get a hankering for a cookie, I’ll pull out a few, place them on a cookie sheet to thaw then bake.  That easy!

Well, its time for me to scadoodle.  Hope you have a great day!

Many Blessings,

The Artistic Desert Gardener

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