What a beautiful place you have here. Not just physical beauty, but “true” beauty.  Such loving people are truly sent from God.  It is hard to believe that less than 100 miles away is the hustle & bustle of Chicago.  Your dogs are so nice – we laid on the floor and played with them.  This is our 5th year of marriage and our anniversary weekend.

Lala and Ray  – Chicago, IL

One of our first gardening activities upon moving onto our three-acre property was to plant an orchard. We initially planted a variety of fruits - apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, almonds, etc.  Over the years we have learned which fruits produce well in our climate and which don't.  We discovered pear trees are the hands down fruit tree winner, as they are easy to grow, relatively immune to insect damage, and produce even during dry summers.  Our Asian pear varieties are particularly tasty and a favorite of guests.  Ask to try the dried Asian pears - they are sweet as candy.

Peaches also produce well here and our home canned peaches make a great peach cobbler. We are happy to discuss with you our fruit related successes and failures (assuming we have time available), as well as how we are integrating Permaculture principles into our fruit production.

Bosc pear Collette pear in full bloom. Currants growing in the orchard.
This was the very first fruit on our Bosc pear tree (Fall 2004) - it was a dandy! Bosc pears, which ripen in late October, are a nice complement to the prolific Bartlet which ripens in August. Our Kiefer pear tree in full bloom. This tree is a prolific producer (over 5 bushels per year) of large, crunchy pears that ripen late in the season and can be stored for months. We planted these currants at the drip line of the apple trees. Their tart flavor is delightful in desserts and sauces, and their fragrant yellow blossoms permeate the yard in early May.

In the berry category, we have found currants to be prolific producers, although time consuming to harvest.  We have also had good results with red raspberries, especially during wet summers, and with strawberries.  We preserve as much of our fruit as possible either by canning, drying or freezing. Guia prepares sauces from all our fruits using honey from our beehives. We also make apple cider that we freeze and serve year round.  If you visit in September or October you might find us making cider.  You are welcome to make some yourself - just be sure to bring containers.  One five gallon bucket of apples makes ~1 gallon of cider.

Bottling fresh squeezed apple cider. Peeling apples to dry.
Our friend Bill bottling fresh squeezed apple cider during a fundraising event at the B&B. Plump, late summer raspberries ready for harvest. Peeling apples to dry in our homemade food dryer.


An apple tree graft.

The grafts shown here on a mature apple branch are of a different variety than the tree upon which they have been grafted.  Upon bearing fruit, these grafts will diversify the tree's fruit production.  Over the next two years, the weaker graft will be removed.  The remaining graft will produce fruit consistent with the tree from which the graft was taken.  This extends the harvest because not all apple varieties mature at the same time.  It also, to some extent, evens out the energy needs of the tree.  Grafting in this manner is one way in which we apply Permaculture principles in our orchard.