After a short-lived warm and comfortable spell, winter is upon us, this first day of spring. Though I write from beside our hearth, and am so thankful for it’s centering warmth, my orchardist-self is happy too for the unseasonably cold weather.
Winter was mild with just enough cold fronts to keep Barefoot Permaculture’s orchard dormant past the “first flowering” dates of last years’ disastrous early flowering (followed by 2 hard frosts later in the season).
With last weekends’ 70 degree (F) temperatures, the orchard continued it’s stirring and wakening. The buds of Chojoro (Asian) and Moonglow (European) Pears showed the first serious signs of budbreak: these are among the earliest of our fruits to flower.
Chojoro Asian Pear Breaking Bud
I took yesterdays’ last warmth opportunity to initiate my first (thereby, trial run) of four Holistic Spring Orchard Sprays, from Michael Phillips’ “The Holistic Orchard”. (The sprays include the following all-cold processed ingredients: 100% Neem oil; liquid whole fish (Hydrolysate); liquid seaweed; Effective Micro-organisms (EM1); Blackstrap Molasses, and bio-degradable liquid dish soap (as an emulsifying agent and sticker).
The trunks, branches, and buds are sprayed past the point of drip-off (so the ground beneath receives the spray). As a trial run, I learned that my 4 gallon backpack sprayer will handle 3 trees. This means I can expect to mix 4-5 batches for each of the 4 sprays.
There will be more to report on this in later postings.
This frigid weather, and the next week of below normal temperatures, should work to slow down budbreak of the rest of the orchard (perhaps for a few more weeks).
At Barefoot Permaculture Gardens & Orchards, located in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, the timing of the last killing frosts and orchard flowering is always at best, a very delicate dance…