The orchard is surrounded by cedars and alders, some quite large and thus creating too much shade. Also the tent caterpillar, which also hosts on the alder, was very prevalent around the orchard in summer 1996. During pruning (March 1997) many tent caterpiller egg masses existed in the orchard, a parasitic wasp killed off the caterpillers before they could do any damage in the summer of 1997
When pruning, the egg masses attached to the apple tree branches are all picked off and burned. The alder will grow to 20 inches in diameter, and they are a nitrogen fixers as well so are good for the soil. When they get old, they start dying off, so I have cut 4 or 5, and they will be my firewood for next year. An 11 year old alder averaged 8 inches in diameter at the base.
I am certainly not an expert organic farmer; I do make mistakes, but I am eager to learn and have lots of energy. However, I do believe the future will prove that organic farming is necessary for health people and the future of our world. I am quite happy with the quality of the fruit produced in the orchard and I can see definite improvements each year as roots become better established as the successive applications of seaweed add to the nutrient levels. Although I did win most prizes for apples in the 1996 Salt Spring Fall Fair, I also have some varieties which are in need of improvements. In 1997, the fruit of Mutsu, Golden Delicious, Summered, Winter Banana, and Spartans had some scab and spotting, but showed great improvement in 1998. In the long run, my orchard might also become an experiment to find out which varieties are best suited to our climate. As a last resort, some varieties might be culled when they prove to be unsuccessful producers of good quality apples. I expect all varieties to grow successfully. This orchard will become a treasury of good quality eating apple well suited to the Gulf Islands.