Volume 8, Week 24, February 1-7, 2015
And just like that; BAM, it was spring. Now, I know the calendar still calls it winter until my birthday in March, but to me, when you start seeing flowers, especially on fruit trees, believe me, it’s spring. First were Carol’s daffodils by the house, then a few nectarines around the country.
Mainly spring’s a mental shift. Trees and farmers exit dormancy together. Buds are swelling and will need water. It isn’t falling from the sky, so precious ground-water reserves will have to be further depleted as we continue what some are calling the worst drought in 1,000 years. One thing for sure, it’s dry again. That could change as most of our rain comes in February and March. Pray for rain!
Physiologically, as our trees move into spring, they push fluid upward in preparation for bud-break. Young limbs become sap heavy and are in their most pliable state of the year. We actually wait until this time just prior to bloom to prune young orchards and take some corrective action to set limbs exactly where we want them using saws, string and “W” shaped wire clips punched into the ground as anchors tied between them and a branch that needs some humbling. If a main branch is too arrogant—vertical—we will cut into it from the bottom about 60% of the way through where we want it to bend. Sometimes 3 to 4 cuts, sometimes 7 to 8 depending how big and out of position it is, but they will yield to pressure from the w anchor and string and with some skill and patience, a young branch that was headed the wrong way can be redirected and have the productive shape desired the rest of its life. Tie it in that position and it will heal itself and go to work.
Hundreds of you have watched me turn an arrogant unproductive plum branch into a humble productive branch during summer farm tours. This is similar but applies to the primary “main scaffold” limbs that are typically 1 to 2 inches in diameter second leaf. Not much different than people really; if they’re headed the wrong way, some skill and patience can bend them into a more productive direction.
On a different note, if I asked anyone on the street who their doctor was, most would have an instant answer accompanied by stories and anecdotes of their care. Same if I asked about their plumber, electrician, dentist, mechanic, teacher….But if I asked who their farmer was, all I’d get typically was a blank stare.
There’s absolutely nothing more important to our physical well being than the food we eat and how it was produced. That’s why we sponsor the farm tours every spring, summer, and fall so you can come out and see. I think it’s more important to know your farmer and his methods so you can stay healthy than to know your doctor after you get sick.
We made much of this during the early years of AHO, I wrote about it, we trademarked the “Who’s Your Farmer” logo and it’s every bit as important today as it was then; more so as we all come under the new federal food safety regulations that are literally seeking to force a sterile lifeless food supply down our throats.
I bring Who’s Your Farmer up this week after last week’s lesson on regulation because I think we’ve tried to replace character with laws which are a lot like pad-locks; controlling the honest. If laws and regulation worked, we could just pass one that said “Everyone must be kind and honest.”
Get to know your farmers and how they function; but most importantly; learn why they feel called to help you