Organic Inspiration!

Michael Phillips of Heartsong Farm. Photo by Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

This article in today’s New York Times reminds me that there is still so much more to learn about apples. Always. It’s about Michael Phillips, an apple grower in northern New Hampshire who has a thriving organic orchard just a short drive from the Canadian border. I have heard so much bad news about growing organic apples in New England. How hard it is, thanks to the fact that apple orchards are essentially monocultures filled with clones—that is, a paradise for insects or diseases whose prey has little natural resistance. And unlike the drier landscapes of the West, our wet, verdant climate serves up a larger menu of potential pests.

Phllips’s success makes me want to jump in the car and drive right up to Groveton, NH. Or at least order a copy of his new book, The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way (Chelsea Green).  According to the Times, “it explains how to grow fruit with nothing more lethal than neem oil and sprays made out of liquid fish fertilizer (which has fatty acids and enzymes lacking in pasteurized fish emulsion), homegrown horsetail and stinging nettles (both are high in silica and help leaves fend off fungal disease).”

Meanwhile, I had the most wonderful visit this week to Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, NH. More on that to come soon…