I would describe Apple-Luscious Organic Orchards as a wild orchard where:
Little mowing in done except for a small circle around each tree and walking paths. The 8 HP walk behind DR field mower is the perfect device to keep the voracious alders and blackberry bushes under control.
It is not possible to keep the blackberry bushes under control by hand. A large harvest of wild black berries each year is a perfect reward for allowing the 1 inch diameter vines full of thorns to keep growing in the lower corner of the orchard. The vines will grow at least 8 feet off the ground up into fruit trees, then back down to the ground on the other side. At times I have had to use a machete to search through a mound of blackberry bushes to find a new 6 foot tall fruit tree that got swallowed. But blackberry is my second favourite fruit next to apples.
Weeds including any of the nitrogen fixing plants such as vetches and clovers are encouraged.. I also take great pride in my 7 foot tall thistles. I believe this wild growth is beneficial as it is bringing up nutrients from deep in the earth, it provides lots of organics in the top layer of soil, it provides a large surface area for the morning dew which appears everywhere on summer mornings and it becomes a living mulch to hold in any moisture whether rain or dew. Most summer mornings have a heavy dew.
All organic meaning that no herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers or dormant oil are now used or were ever used on this property.
No irrigation is used on the established trees with older trees on M7 roots but more recent trees on MM106 or MM 111 to make them more drought resistant. I do water new trees (which are mulched) or any older trees which seems to need water.
Most years each tree receives seaweed collected on the beaches Total application in 1995 was 11 half ton loads or 1/4 wheelbarrow per tree.. Old-timers speak very highly of the value of this fertilizer and it does seem to make strong plants which in theory are better able to withstand attacks by insects. Seaweed research indicate that it supplies high potassium nutrients (NPK = 1.7 - 0.75 - 4.9), supplies many trace minerals and growth producing hormones promotes chelating abilities to release locked-up minerals, fosters strong growth habit and possible control of red spider mites. Seaweed also tends to bring with it some clam and oyster shell, which supplies an added bonus - calcium.
Seaweed is also free of weed seed, insect eggs and plant disease. Besides, there is nothing more peaceful that collecting seaweed on a beach in early morning while watching the dogs play in the sand or chase seagulls.
During summer 1997, I had an incredible experience when arriving in the early morning at the beach to collect seaweed. I heard an animal squeal out on the beach but didn't concentrate on the noise. When it persisted, I went out to find a baby raccoon with his paw stuck in the mud. I wasn't sure what had it but one quick shovelful, loosened the culprit. A huge clam had the baby's paw inside. The now quieter raccoon then backed off pulling the clam. In a short time it was gone, presumable when the clam let go. The tide was coming in and would have drowned the raccoon, presuming the clam would have kept hanging on when the tide reached it.
Most years the orchard receives some crushed oyster shell. Total application in 1995 was one half ton load obtained from an oyster farm.
Fish wastes from the local retail fish store are buried in holes this year, ready to have an apple tree planted there over it the following year. Natives tended to use fish as a fertilizer for their gardens.
Not a lot of mechanization is used in the orchard. No roadways exists at this time through the orchard, but only paths for wheelbarrows. I might be forced to change this later, however, when trees come into full production.
No Red Delicious are allowed, although I welcome someone to challenge my poor opinion of them with suggestions of the truly delicious Red Delicious varieties of the past that did have good taste.