Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Rethinking the Orchard

Friday, April 12, 2013

It just doesn't seem right to rip out what I thought were perfectly good apple trees.  If you've been following Cranky Puppy for awhile, you know that we have 3 dwarf apple trees that were planted in 2011 and 2012.  Little did we know at the time that Home Depot is NOT the place to buy trees.

J. attended an 8-hour in-depth orchard class a couple of weekends ago and it covered everything you could possibly want to know about growing fruit trees including...you guessed it....never buy your trees from a box store.

Why?  It's all about the rootstock.  See, most fruit trees are grafted and the rootstock that's used can determine the tree's hardiness, how much fruit you get, how big the tree gets, etc.  For apple trees, the instructor recommends trees that are grafted onto a rootstock called B.9 (or Bud-9).  It's a dwarf rootstock that allows the tree to grow somewhere between 6 and 10 feet in height.

I can't tell you how disappointed I was when J. came home and told me that we really ought to replace our trees.  Rather than let them die, we're going to dig them up, transplant them on the 40 acres, and let them do their thing.  If they live and bear fruit, it's a bonus.  If they die, then c'est la via.

Now back to this rootstock thing.  If you ask someone at Home Depot what rootstock their trees have, they'll look at you like you've got a third eye.  Same thing with some of the online nurseries like Stark Bros.  But....if you look really hard, you can find good companies that happily list what rootstocks they use.  The bad news, however, is that all the varieties on B.9 are sold out by now.  After 2 days of looking locally and online, I finally found some in stock at One Green World and placed an order for 1 Braeburn and 1 Honeycrisp - both are semi-dwarf trees on M-7 rootstock.  They will be a little larger than the dwarf trees we're replacing at a mature height of 12 to 15 feet, which is why I only purchased 2.  They're also pollinators for each other which is obviously very important!

While I was at it, I also ordered some Northstar pie cherry trees to put outside the fence. (J. is salivating right now thinking about some homemade cherry pie.) 

We're getting intermitten 60 and 70 degree days now and this weekend should be in that same temp range.  On tap is a trip to the dump, cleaning the chicken coop and cleaning up the garden to get ready for planting.  What are you up to this weekend?

I've shared this post as part of this week's Homestead Barn Hop.  Lots of interestin' stuff happening over there...go check it out!


  1. Thank you so so much for posting this!!! We have been wanting to get some fruit trees in the near future and were wondering where to buy, thinking about Home Depot or somewhere similar. THANK YOU for saving us the heartache of going through all that!!

    Have a great weekend. :) We will be busy with lawn care, chickens, and gardening this weekend, too.

  2. That explains a lot :) I've planted fruit trees at every house we've owned, only to move and leave them behind. But it seemed that they all got a lot bigger than the description. I don't usually succumb to the urge to buy them from a big box. I usually order from Miller Nursery in NY...but I'll have to check into their root stock supply.

    I don't have plans to add anymore fruit trees to this property. But we hope to move back to NY in about 5 years, and then I want to plant more. Here's hoping we get some fruit off the trees I've planted here in the meantime!

    Thanks for the great info! I hope you'll stop by and share your post on The HomeAcre Hop on Thursday...www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com


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