Fresh Facts Week 21: Putting Things Back in Order

What’s the haps on the farm this week uncle Vern? Well, last week we planted a patch of Princess Time peaches and marked for a patch of Honey Punch plums. It’s not quite the same as delivering a baby, but there are similarities: Hope, Fragility, Limitless possibilities, Long period of nurture prior to fruit… Could probably fill the page with everything that goes through a new parent’s mind.

This is also the time we replant missing trees and graft mistaken limbs. I guess putting things back in order would be a good way to put it.

We are finishing pruning the Autumn Royal table grapes–those big purple ones you guys like so much—with an eye to tripling production of that patch. After lots of consultation, we’re leaving canes this year instead of spurs to get bud count up. It’s going to take more intense management, but you guys should be eating them for two months instead of three weeks and intense is our DNA. We’ll keep you posted.

It’s also dormant spray time in the orchards and here’s what that means. Two of our big pests are San Jose Scale (I hope Saint Jose isn’t offended by the naming of a sucking parasite after him) and Peach Tree Borer. Both of these guys are stationary right now, there are no leaves in the way, so what we do is spray basically an organically approved water soluble salad oil on the trees. We drive miserably slow–how slow uncle Vern?—so slow you could read a page of the WSJ from one end of the row to the other. This thoroughly coats the pest with the oil; he can’t breathe, and dies.

Were we a conventional farm, we would add a toxic pesticide, drive a whole lot faster and get better control; but that’s pretty disruptive to the ecology of an orchard down the road. It’s pretty cool how one practice builds on another. We consider this time of year the beginning of our pest management year and starting from a clean foundation is critical.

Notice I said pest management rather than pest control. Organically, we work with what we have, encouraging our crop’s friends and discouraging their enemies. We’ll never eradicate, but we can bring things into acceptable balance.

Well, while you’re reading this, we’re off to the Island of Kauai for Erik’s wedding to Stephanie Cook; grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins suffering in Hawaii in January; smart boy that Erik; gets it from his mom. All that about hope and limitless possibilities applies to this marriage of two strong young people.

I believe this is the first time in the 8 ½ years we’ve been doing this that there are no Peterson’s hands-on involved in your produce that week; probably go better.

Cristina’s going to take over authorship of this note next week as well.

Mahalo &

Author Cristina Gutierrez

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