The Apple Arbor at Fayrehale


Based on an example we saw in Colonial Williamsburg, we planted an apple arbor here at Fayrehale.  The greatest feature is the close planting of trees. Remember we are working on .6 acres (notice the point) on the edge of a picturesque Vermont village!  Or arbor consists of 32 semi-dwarf apple trees (2 each of 16 varieties). We did the high number of varieties because apple trees produce in cycles having off and on years with regards to production.  We figure this system will always give enough apples for two people!


Starting in 2005 we staked out the design. We wanted the apple arbor to be both a fruit producer and an architectural garden feature creating a pleasant transition from one garden room to another. We purchased the trees from E.C.Browns’ Nursery here in Vermont and had them do the planting. (Wedding Present  from Tom’s Mother) The main run is shown above. Stakes (and thus trees) are 3′ apart and space between rows is 8′ wide. There are three side “entrances”.  One on the left (goes to the raised bed vegetable garden) and two on the right (one goes to a small sitting area and the other to the small hoop poultry breeding pens.


Trees planted. This image  shows one of the two back “entrances” . Looking at the upper left you can see the “entrance” to and from the raised bed vegetable garden which has not been created yet!

apple arbor 4

Time passes and the trees grow. The curved metal arches are temporary “training” fixtures I used to wrap graft the trees into the arch.  The black metal arbor is at the entrance from the backyard.  It needs to be leveled and then we have flag stones to lay for a floor. We will lay clear plexi across the center top over where a table and chairs will be placed. There will be an old wood stove off to the left for evening fires.  There are grapes planted on the left columns . In the distance one of several sculpture by Alex Kovacs, an artist we admire for modern work.

As you can see from the lead picture, I have pruning to do. Need to get out and get it done soon.  Will try to accomplish it myself. If I am not successful I will call in our area apple expert  Todd Parlo, who developed, owns and runs Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard


Planning a Melon House this Season – Growing Melons in Vermont..

Time to tackle a new gardening endeavor. Planning to take one of the hoop houses and devote it to growing melons. Have never grown melons before and know that here in Vermont they will need extra heat and protection from Vermont weather.

Has anyone reading this entry successfully grown melons in a northern climate? I would appreciate hearing about your success or lack of success!

This year we are ordering from three organic seed companies.  The melon seeds are coming from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. We selected four varieties for our first attempt at melon production, all from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Charentais Melon

1) Charentais Melon: A famous French heirloom with a light grey-green skin. The bright orange flesh is super sweet and very fragrant, with melons weighing 2-3 lbs. 

Noir des Carmes

2) Noir de Carmes Melon: A beautiful and rare heirloom from France. The “Black Rock” melon preserved by the Carmelite monks. It was mentioned by Mawe & Abercrombie in 1787. Nearly black in color, the fruit turns orange as it ripens. They are deeply ribbed and have smooth skin. The flesh is orange in color, thick, flavorful and perfumed, with melons weighing 3-6lbs.

Petit Gris De Rennes Melon2

3) Petit Gris De Rennes Melon: A dense 2 lb. melon with orange flesh that is superbly sweet, flavorful and perfumed. This variety is early and well adapted to cool climates. This melon weighs around 2 lbs. and has a grey-green rind. This fine French variety is of the best quality and is the favorite melon of the French melon expert and author Bruno Defay. Rare in the USA.

Thai Golden Round Melon

4) Thai Golden Round Melon: This is a new offering in the States. The plants are extremely productive, The big 6-lb melons look like glowing orange pumpkins. The green flesh is sweet and melting, and has a very unique tropical taste, somewhat un-melonlike in flavor.

There are hundreds of melon offerings! It was hard to pick just four! I went with visual appeal, then description. If successful and we like them we will stick with this combination. Otherwise we will try others as we are determined to grow melons here in Vermont.

At the beginning I mentioned that we used three organic seed sources this year. The other two are High Mowing Seeds, not too far from us in Hardwick, Vermont, and Valentine & Sons Seed Company, LLC in neighboring New Hampshire.

Finding good organic seed sources is getting more and more difficult with Monsanto trying to take over the world with their GMOs. Later I will do an entry with a longer list of safe seed sources. For now, know you are good with these three.

2013 will see melons growing at Fayrehale, fertilized with composted Chantecler manure.

My mouth is watering already!!


Greetings from Fayrehale and from Vermont!

For years I have been talking about blogging to share our experiences living in an increasingly difficult world. Others who know me have constantly encouraged me to start as they feel that others can and will benefit from what we are doing..

Simply put, we are working to be as self sufficient as possible. Working to build a local community of resources for the things we can not do ourselves.

We are raising fruit (apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, currants and strawberries), vegetables, chickens for meat, eggs and a small income and rabbits for meat. All on .6 acres (notice the point) on the edge of a small picturesque Vermont village.

We are no different than the thousands and thousands of others doing the same thing.  It is my sincere hope that this site can be a hub for a large network of like minded people.  For now we will leave all pages open for comments so that discussions and ideas can be shared.  Some of you have vast experience and others are just starting. We value both ends of the spectrum equally and together we can grow and make a difference.

We will be expanding this site and have made sure that there is something on each page as we launch.  Hopefully these snippets will give you a little insight into us and our life. Hopefully they will entice you to keep coming back and participating as we grow.

It is exciting to finally do it and not just talk about it!  It is also daunting as now there is a responsibility to keep going.

I have some catching up to do on the various pages to bring you to where we are today..  I will work to connect at least weekly as we progress into a new year and growing season.  The poultry are displaying and I am anxious to start hatching and to start seeds for the garden.

One final note!  I write informally as if I am talking! Lots of dashes, dots and phrases!  Thomas Jefferson did it in his personal correspondence so I figure I am in good company.  Jefferson also lived a life that I feel meets my definition of “Elegant Simplicity”.  One keeps their hands in the earth, their connection and interaction with nature while enjoying a nice table, friends, books, music and art.

Come along with us as we make this journey.


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