Welcome back to farm & field my dears, the time to get back into the orchard mind is now!
Before my update on pruning season, the approaching grafting season, and associated workshops, an exciting piece of news has arrived. The 2nd edition of The Wild Apple Forager’s Guide is now in stock! The new field guide has some nice features: it’s sporting new cover artwork, an expanded scouting log section, and higher resolution color images. Very proud of this one! It is available below, and of course, at any Gnarly Pippins classes & workshops you sign up for.
Now, for an orcharding update:
With the orchard season now underway, the lazy days of winter seem like memories of a distant past. Involving one’s self with apples is a year-round affair. Even in the frigid air of February, we are preparing for next year by renewing the tree’s growth, and striving to maintain fruitwood on our favorite trees. The list of trees to prune is long and daunting — it spans both farms and roadsides, and will require a few road small road trips in order to make it all happen! What fun! & what lengths we go to for this fruit!
The daily rhythm of pruning away old wood from apple trees assimilates the pruner’s mind with the inner workings and current activity inside the tree. Even during this mid-late stage of dormancy, the tree is alive and reacting. So I am feeling much more connected with the orchardist mindset than I was last month.
It is such a contrast to work on trees in operational orchards versus old, unpruned trees with years of renovation ahead of them. So far, I have been putting in a lot of time pruning the orchard at Small Ones Farm in Amherst, MA and at Shundahai Farm in Storrs, CT. These are two holistic organic orchards that grow fruit for fresh eating on small acreage. The type of pruning I’m doing there involves a lot of rhythm and muscle memory, creating patterns of uniformity throughout the orchard. I am doing small amounts of cutting on these trees to renew the fruitwood and bud set on each tree, rather than trying to remove large swaths of burdensome material to allow the tree to develop newer growth. Some snapshots of the pruned orchard at Small Ones Farm below:
Later this month and in March, I will be on the road, continuing my vagabond ways, pruning trees things here and there throughout the region, and I will chronicle my journey on here. Stay posted! Blogging while out on the road is always a good time for me.
A closing note: In a previous blog post, I mentioned that we are having up and down weather, a few days of warmth and a few days of chill. As of this weekend there is 2 & 1/2 feet of a snow on the ground, and we have to prune with snowshoes on to avoid sinking to the thigh with each step. It seems like my prayers that we can maintain chilling temperatures until the Spring comes for good have been received by something! So: stay tuned for a workshop in your area.