Growing veggies is kind of a fling, a flirtation, a seasonal thing. It’s a springtime infatuation, then a summer romance which withers in the fall. There’s some messing about in the dirt, some caressing of seeds, occasional dates to water and fertilize and sometimes conflict with weedy competitors.
Fruit trees, on the other hand are a long term commitment requiring patience and understanding and a willingness to listen. Fruit trees are needy and a bit finicky. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get involved. Playing the field with veggies seemed a lot more fun. But, then, there’s cherry pie in July, the crispness of apples in the fall, the fun of making cider and, best of all, plum chutney. Fruit trees are a long term companion.
I needed counseling and turned to Cloud Mountain Farm who offer a twice monthly Good Orchard Newsletter for $50 a year, my own personal fruity Dr. Phil to tell me what to do and when to do it.
They start each newsletter with the monthly tasks:
• Watch bud stages for delayed dormant sprays timing
• Continue dormant pruning
• Lime, fertilize fruit trees
And offer interesting tidbits of local history:
There are many century old apple and fruit orchards scattered around Puget Sound. The San Juan Islands had over 10,000 acres in tree fruits in 1900. Whatcom County had somewhere around 5000 acres that were apples, some pie cherries and plums. There were two packing plants, the Kale cannery in Everson and The Deming Delight Cannery that was housed near the Fairhaven shipyards. They produced three products at the Deming Delight facility; apple sauce, apple rings and apple chunks.
When (the owner of Cloud Mountain Farm) first came to Whatcom County in 1975 there were still many century orchards around that were rich in old varieties. You could find Winter Pearmains, Blue Pearmains, Snow Apples,Kings, Gravenstein, Golden Russet, Ashmead’s Kernals, etc. Talking to many of the farmers at that time they simply stated their families had their dairy cows and 5 or more acres of tree fruit. Today unfortunately few of these trees are left.
Cloud Mountain provides the technical information and very often complement it with with the same information in layman’s language. So far I think the investment has been worth it just to let me know what organic sprays to spray and when to apply them.
There’s a lot to learn about fruit trees and Cloud Mountain also provides much free information on their website for those in a serious relationship with fruit trees.