Arbor Day 2015


by Jim Gerrish

There's nothing "magical" about planting trees on Arbor Day, except that it comes in late April usually past all the freezing weather and before you can do much work in your garden on the pretty plants and the fun-to-eat plants. Because it is known to be a good day for politicians to be photographed with a tree in one hand and a shovel in the other, being "earth friendly" and "going green", etc. I had hoped that our local political photo hog would restore the centennial tree to City Hall last year, but to no avail. So this year I am ignoring all politicians and just focusing on my own garden of trees. Perhaps "orchard" is a better word since it is defined as "an intentional grouping of trees or shrubs that are chosen and maintained for food, mainly fruit and nuts." Most commercial orchards group trees of one type or another, but a home garden orchard can group together a variety of fruit bearing trees, which is a more ecologically sound practice to avoid blights, fungi and plant diseases.

A car accident took out my front right fence last January, but pieces from the fence were salvaged to create the small wooden enclosure to protect the Golden Delicious Apple Dwarf tree, which is in its second year of growth. It is not expected to bear fruit for another two or three years of growing, and that is why it needs protection and a lot of patience. The Macintosh Apple tree, which I grew from seed four years ago, may take another five to ten years to begin to bear fruit. Unlike tomatoes, beans and peas, which live, produce crops and die all in one summer, fruit and nut trees are for the long term gardener.

Another concern of the fruit & nut tree grower is cross pollination. You usually can't just grow one variety of tree by itself. It needs a companion tree to provide cross pollination, carried out by friendly bees and other insects, so both trees will produce fruit. My Golden Delicious Apple tree will have a Red Delicious Apple tree near by, but my two pear trees grow right next to each other since they are varieties that will grow up straight and bear fruit around the center trunk.


The long term nature of tree growing is a good reason why you should encourage the city to begin growing fruit and nut trees in city parks, instead of just planting trees that provide shade and drop leaves into our gutters. Most fruit and nut trees also have blossom displays in the spring, so if you want the best of blossoming decorative trees that provide useful edible products for times of need, look no further than these and ask your politicians to promote "green" that can be eaten.

Real Cherry Trees don't have the showy blossom displays of the Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees found in Branch Brook Park, which produce no edible cherries. Instead, like my backyard Cherry Tree shown above, they have smaller, less showy blossoms that soon turn into real cherries that can be harvested and eaten before the start of summer, or turned into jams, jellies and other preserved fruits that can be enjoyed all year long.

See Qua-Fiki harvesting cherries in 2013

East Orange is a city of apartment dwellers, who have no private land on which to grow trees of their own, but that doesn't mean you can't grow a tree or two right inside your own apartment. If you have a sunny window, or maybe a balcony outside a window where you can place a small greenhouse, you are all set. Failing that, investigate the new market for grow lamps that can even use solar powered electricity that won't cost you a cent once you invest in a solar panel and battery system for your dark shadowy dwelling. Best of all, when you move to a new apartment, you can take your "farm" with you!


Prices and sources change over time, so do your own homework and you'll find similar products that cost less from other sources.

Back to the East Orange Interactive Museum Home Page