AppleLuscious Organic Farm
2006 Newsletter

We had no time to get bored this year.   Wow, were we busy, but it was a great year. 

Summary

• By mid April, sold out of all 1-year old apple trees from our nursery. 

• Survived a very wet winter and one of the driest summers on record.  

• Organized a very successful 8th Annual Salt Spring Apple Festival with 800 happy apple lovers roaming the island in an apple trance.  

• Sold out of apples by early December. 

• Attempting to get some water storage (above ground tanks) in place for 2007. 

• Best of all, had many happy customers delighted at all the apple varieties we exposed them to.

Highlights included:

• Tasting some of our new apple varieties for the first time and being delighted.  These include Almata, Blushing Golden, Braeburn, Chehalis, Cox Queen, Etter's Gold, Freyberg, Geneva  163, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Kestrel, Malling's Kent, Mott's Pink, Mutsu, Nova, Sansa, Sinta, Summerland Red Mac, Sweet Sixteen, Wickson Crab and Winekist.  Proven favourites include Gravenstein, Melrose, Honey Crisp, Orenco, Sandow, Northern Spy, Spigold and Karamijn de Sonnaville. 

• Markets are always very enjoyable as we always give tasting of all varieties for sale.  Taste is what sells apples, especially some of the uglier looking varieties.  The great feedback we get from customers is one of the best incentives to keep working hard in the orchard and to keep growing organically.


Harry at the Apple Festival

• At Apple Festival 2006, we offered 127 varieties for tasting. 

• As the main organizer of the Apple Festival, we were delighted to see about 800 happy apple lovers roaming the island on the day of the festival.   They had attained APPLE BLISS.

• The apple collection at Fulford Hall for Apple Festival 2006 displayed 296 varieties of apples all organically grown on Salt Spring Island.  The collection was sold and the money raised from the collection was returned to the growers who worked so hard to get that incredible collection together.  

• After surviving one of the driest summers on record, we are going to have some water storage (above ground tanks) in place by next year.  We had record rainfalls in the winter.  Just no happy medium.  Our precipitation is all or nothing.

• We had 2 different ladies over 85 years old, buy an apple tree this year.   Now that is the best example of OPTIMISM I have ever seen, since these trees will take another 4 years to produce apple.   They are just not talking optimism, they are demonstrating it.

• Watching our 3 dogs, 4 cats and about 35 chickens all coexist in the same space.  This includes 2 broody hens, hatching 16 young chicks this year and not having the cats bother them.

• Having tree frogs appear in many places throughout the orchard.  On the left in hydrangeas and on the right on the top edge of a plastic rain barrel.  This frog spent a few months in our rain barrel during the driest part of the summer.  These are our mascots and their presence is a good omen in the orchard.

• Our 3 lovely dogs are our “door bells”, letting us know if anyone is at the gate.  If someone really special arrives, they howl, sounding as if someone is torturing them. AS soon as they meet the guest, they show how friendly they are.  Avery, our new little white Shitsu/Japanese Chin cross is a real character, and although she doesn’t chase chickens, once in a while she loves to just take a run through them to watch them scatter.

• Avery also gets into a little mischief once in a while.  Last January, I was digging a hole for a new tree.  Since it was a wet month, the hole quickly became full of water.  I then added a whole garbage pail of OKARA, a white sludge from organic Tofu processing.  So the hole was like a dirty brown soup.  Avery lost her footing and fell into the hole, head going right under, then coming up swimming.   I grabbed her quickly and took her to the house, where by the second baths we had her clean.  I wish someone had a camera handy that day.

• The chickens are a great part of the orchard, wandering through the entire orchard, and just fenced out of the garden, house area and roses.  We call it Club Med for Chickens.  Here you can see them right up in a wheelbarrow of fresh manure, which has been left for a minute. I try to save earthworms, while they are trying to eat them.  You can see they have scratched some of the manure onto the ground already.  They have incredible eyesight.

• We eat very well at Apple Luscious, growing as much of our own food as possible.  Here is Deb with a nice broccoli.  It was last year that Harrowsmith Magazine said quite bluntly that it was next to impossible to grow apples organically, plus broccoli and cauliflower.  What utter nonsense!  I don’t think they ever asked any organic growers about that.

• Our red fleshed apple become more amazing each year as the trees get more established. 

Apple Festival 2008 (OUR 10TH) will be celebrating  RED FLESH APPLE VARIETIES.

• I always note which apple varieties are most eaten by birds, since I believe they are drawn to the best tasting varieties.   This year the birds voted (by eating) the following:  Cox Orange, Northern Spy, Red Flesh, Karamijn de Sonnaville and Grenadine.  Those are all great tasting apples.   I do rely more though on 3 neighbourhood daughters as my main taste testers.   Deb and I also rate each apple out of 20 for taste.   We do not keep any apple variety getting less than 15 for taste. 

• We had a few chicken incidents this year.   The night before we left on a two week holiday to Mexico, I was awakened about 2PM by a noise outside.  Running down to the  coop, I noticed that the Barred Rock rooster that normally roosted under the eave of the coop was not in place.  After searching for a while, I found nothing, but then I heard a splashing in the pond about 30 feet from the coop.   On shining the flashlight in the pond, sure enough, there was the rooster in the water at the edge of the pond.  I cut my way to the edge of the pond, grabbed the rooster and  put him back into the coop.   Since that day, he has stayed in the coop at night.  He had lost all his tail feathers, but was unharmed otherwise.  How he got to the pond, we can only guess.   Perhaps an owl tried to carry him off and dropped him over the pond.  

• We had 2 Polish hens with chicks get attacked by a small hawk.  These mothers are incredible and in each case, had grabbed the hawk before it could get any chicks.   The squawking noise was from the hawk trying to escape.   These Polish hens are ferocious.   It is so inspiring to watch the mother hens teach the chicks.  They are out in the dirt on the very first day, with the mother hen clucking her instructions to them.  The chicks also spend lots of time under the mother hen keeping warm.

• This is the part of the display of apples we had ready for sale at Apple Festival 2006.  All our signs include the variety name, plus the date and location where the variety originated.

• During early Sept we had wasps build a huge nest about eye level in one of our Red Gravenstein trees, and so at picking time, we picked all the Red Gravenstein within 10 feet of the nest, but left the rest for posterity. 

• One interesting note: as an example of the old apple trees existing on Salt Spring, at our local Christmas craft show, I acquired an apple bowl that is 13.5 inches in diameter from a local turner.  Not only was this solid apple wood all the way through, this apple tree would have had to be about 18 inches in diameter before going into the lathe.  Now there is an old apple tree.   Most apple trees on Salt Spring voluntarily subscribe to the Bowl Donation Program, where when they die, their remains may be used by any local wood turner in order that they may still be of use after they die, very similar to the Organ Donation Program that humans have.

Best time to visit Apple Luscious

Roses

June

Plums

August and September

Apples

August and September

Blossoms

April

Orchard Tour

Anytime

Harry Burton is available to make the three following presentations, all roughly one hour long.

  1. A Celebration of Apple Luscious Organic Orchard. –this informative, interesting and humourous talk is based on a sldie show of 80 photographs  from our orchard.  It celebrates the diversity and bounty of Mother Nature. 

  2. The History of Apple Growing on Salt Spring Island. –this amazing presentation features the history of apple growing on Salt Spring from the beginnings in 1860, to the heyday around 1900 when  it was the main apple supplier for British Columbia, to the decline of orchards starting in the 1920, and even stresses the present resurgence of  apples as demonstrated by the 8th Annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival which happened in 2006

  3. The Salt Spring Island Apple Festival. –this session highlights the best of 8 years of  Apple Festival on Salt Spring, an island where over 350 varieties of apples are grown organically. Features include:
    • slides from the many photographers who have roamed the festivals
    • video from the re-enactments of such characters as Johnny Appleseed, Albert Etter, the Queen or Maud Bridgman.
    • Details of past events, historical apple items and anecdotes of the past.

Enjoy 2007!

Harry and Debbie Burton,
Sid, Tippy and Avery (the 3 dogs)
Lucky, Minou, Sparky and Cocoa (the 4 cats)
Our many happy hens and 2 roosters.