I visited a fruit tree orchard for the first time!
Normally, when we do garden day on the blog, Julie or I talk about what gardening things we’ve been doing lately. I’m confined to a dorm at the moment, but luckily my plant class is doing some interesting things and keeping me from going insane from “lack of plants-itis,” an actual disease suffered by gardeners, often resulting in symptoms like having lengthy conversations with trees, speaking encouragingly to wildflowers, and sneaking out in the night to deadhead flowers in public landscaping.
Fortunately, this semester, I’m taking a fruit tree production class, and we recently took a field trip to a fruit tree nursery in McMinnville, TN. The day we went was very, very hot, exactly like the day Julie and I visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and I suppressed the urge to water all of the trees we looked at. I got to see firsthand what this kind of nursery looks like, having never seen one before. And I don’t mean a nursery where you go to buy plants, but rather the place that supplies them, a wholesale nursery. This one distributes its trees to a large chunk of the southeast. It has about four hundred acres that are planted with trees only a few inches apart, and we got to tour some of it. We were shown peaches and apples, seemingly in endless rows upon rows of young trees. For me, who has been pining for his plants, this was refreshing. We learned about grafting, mostly, the process by which you attach a tree or a rose to its rootstock. The process is fairly simple, just a few cuts, and thousands of trees get grafted at this nursery by hand every year. When you consider that, it’s actually quite a bit of manual labor.
What struck me most was the amount of work that goes into providing plant retailers with their product to sell. When gardeners go to buy plants, we don’t think about the hours spent making sure those plants are ready to sell. That’s something we should maybe be more mindful of, but I also really enjoyed seeing the beginning of that process. It’s a lot more involved than many of us might realize, and I don’t think I’ll be complaining about prices anytime soon. But let’s be real, I’m fascinated by anything to do with plants, so someone could spend hours telling me about weeds, and I would probably listen. Plus it will keep me from developing “lack-of-plant-itis,” although I still can’t promise not to talk to trees.
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!