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Handling orchard ground in 1914. Source: Productive Orcharding by Fred Sears.
Haphazard mulches that favor
fungi along with plants
like comfrey are a boon to
apple feeder roots.
Photo by Michael Phillips
On-farm fertility is far more important than many orchardists realize. True soil health has far more to do with biology than mere mineral availability. A "synthesis of place" occurs when microorganisms, biomass, grazing animals, and plant influences both direct and join in the chorus of the land. The nutrient balance presented to a "natural apple tree" creates fruit that is tastier. Soil quality ratings go up when fungal compost and woodsy mulches are applied in the orchard regularly. A healthy soil community in turn addresses vexing problems like disease susceptibility. Natural fertility based on healthy soil communities begets everything good that happens above.
"Everything in Nature is interdependent . . . everything!
I have to emphasize this again and again."
Emphasizing Soil Health from the Get-go
Weigh in here with your experiences with mycorrhizal root dips at planting and other techniques you practice to specifically encourage "wood’s edge ecology."
Soil Food Web testing that validates understory management choices truly gives us a heads-up on how to achieve long-lasting tree health.
Disease Resistance can be Abetted in Every Variety!
Soil health and natural fertility are what enable the apple tree to literally stand up to all comers in its environment. Those of you with "varietal proof" will go a long way towards convincing others of this core tenet of holistic living.
Understory Systems for High-Density Plantings
The basics of ramial woodchip mulching, Swiss Sandwich-style row management, and cover-cropping are described in Apple Grower . . . let’s hear the specifics of your approach.
Life Density = Nutrient Density
Any and all studies that point to the nutritional attributes of fruit grown in a living soil need to be posted here.
Spreading compost in
Lost Nation Orchard.
Photo by Michael Phillips.
All Things Calcium
Let’s hear about your trials with foliar calcium and ground calcium sources in curtailing bitter pit and improving fruit quality overall.
Well-aged, lignin-rich, fungally-dominated . . . please share the specifics that enhance orchard health via your compost pile.
Every fruit grower has worthy contributions to make to these pages. . . so please contact Michael Phillips about your own orcharding research experiences, novel ideas, and success stories.
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