Apple Blossom Love in the Afternoon . . . A Little Romance at Scott Farm Orchard

May 20th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Sunset_Scott_Farm_Heirloom_Apple_Orchard_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com A Late Afternoon Stroll Through the Sun-Drenched Orchard at Scott Farm; Fragrant with the Sweet, Delicate Scent of Apple Blossoms . . .Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_in_the_Orchard_at_Scott_Farm_smallJPEG_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden Seduced by the  Impossibly Romantic Combination of Apple Trees in Full Bloom, Golden Light and Perfumed Air . . .

Sunlit_Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_Scott_Farm_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.comMinutes Slip and Stretch to Stolen Hours; Luxurious into Evening . . .

Sunset_in_the_Heirloom_Apple_Orchard_at_Scott_Farm_Vermont_smallJPEG_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden As the Last Rays of Sunlight Illuminate Silken, Pastel-Pink Petals . . .

Delicate_Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_Scott_Farm_Orchard_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenersedenBlushing and Trembling —Chill to the Breeze— A Frenzy of Dizzy Dancing Above Dandelions . . . Apple_Orchard_Blossoms_from_Scott_Farm_Hilltop_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comSoon a Twilight Chorus of Redwing Blackbirds and Bumble Bees, Rises from the Shadows . . .

Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_at_Scott_Farm_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden A Springtime Siren-Song, Whispering on the Wind, Shaking Loose a Cascade of Wayward Petals . . .

Apple_Blossom_Petal_Strewn_Pathways_Through_Scott_Farm_Orchard_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Falling Soft to Verdant, Blossom-Strewn Pathways  . . .

Violets_and_Apple_Blossoms_Scott_Farm_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.comAnd Violet-Lined Carpets . . .

Scott_Farm_Apple_Blossom_Season_smallJPEG_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenersedenDrifting off to Sweet Summer Slumber and Autumn Apple Harvest Dreams.

Thank you to Ezekiel Goodband, Kelly Carlin, Tristam Johnson and everyone at Scott Farm and Landmark Trust, U.S.A. 

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Scott Farm’s Springtime Renaissance: Above the Orchard, Beauty in Full Bloom

May 15th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

Scott_Farm_Orchard_Apple_Blossom_Aerial_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comBeauty in Full Bloom: Above the Apple Orchard, Scott Farm, Vermont

It’s apple blossom season at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, and the orchard is in full, fragrant glory. Having posted many articles here on The Gardener’s Eden about the Scott Farm orchard —both during the springtime bloom and again during the autumn apple harvest— I decided to do something a bit different this year. Change is in the air at Scott Farm, and inspired by the uplifting mood, I took to the sky for a fresh, symbolic perspective on this beautiful, Vermont treasure.

Scott_Farm_Aerial_One_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comRow upon row of heirloom fruit trees —including apples, quince, peaches, plums and pears, as well as berries—  fill the orchard at Scott Farm

With Tristam Johnson now serving as interim executive director at Landmark Trust, the springtime excitement at Scott Farm has reached an all-time high. Kelly Carlin, office manager, has been updating Scott Farm’s website, and long-time orchard manager and heirloom fruit tree expert, Ezekiel Goodband has recently begun blogging; journaling about day-to-day orchard keeping, as well as posting updates on fruit tree sales, educational programs and community activities at the farm. There’s a springtime renaissance happening at Scott Farm, and the entire orchard is buzzing with the lively energy of a newly invigorated hive. Be sure to visit the Scott Farm website throughout the growing season for information about the availability of ecologically grown orchard fruit and berries, as well as seasonal events and educational opportunities at Scott Farm.

Scott_Farm_Aerial_Straight_Down_Two_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com 
Scott_Farm_Aerial_Straight_Down_Three_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com

Scott_Farm_Aerial_Straight_Down_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com

A heart-felt thank you goes out to Landmark Trust’s new, Executive Director, Tristam Johnson, Scott Farm’s Office Manager, Kelly Carlin and Scott Farm Orchard Manager, Ezekiel Goodband for extending a warm welcome on my visits, both aerial and terrestrial. Wishing everyone at Scott Farm a bright and happy new growing season!

And a very special note of thanks to William Bonnette, offering flight training, photo flights and aerial photography services in New England, and beyond. Thank you so much for donating your time, expertise and use of your aircraft for this flight! Click on image below for more information or to schedule your own flight above New England!

flypioneervalley.com

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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A Glimpse of Autumn Orchard Beauty: Clarkdale Fruit Farm, from Above . . .

November 3rd, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Autumn Orchard Beauty: 1,200′ Above Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts

Is there anything more delightful than the colors and flavors of an autumn orchard? Looking down at the Clarkdale Fruit Farm orchards from 1,200′ AGL, it’s impossible not to dream of strolling with friends; enjoying a cup of cold, sweet, fresh-pressed cider, amid the beautiful fragrances & colors of golden pears and blushing apples . . .

Sweet, Rich Colors to Match the Flavors of Autumn Harvest: Clarkdale Fruit Farm

Clarkdale Fruit Farm is a wonderful, friendly and welcoming orchard located in Deerfield, Massachusetts. This fourth generation, family owned orchard harvests and sells more than 100 varieties of sustainably grown apples —including heirlooms planted by the first generation of Clarks— peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, grapes, cherries and other fruits; as well as pumpkins, gourds and other produce. Clarkdale Orchard also presses their own delicious, sweet cider blends.

Clarkdale Orchard participates in Franklin County, Massachusetts’ Cider Days (this weekend, November 3rd and 4th, click here for more information and event schedule).

For more information, visit the Clarkdale Fruit Farm website by clicking here.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Oh, Sweet-Scented Orchard Blossoms! Selecting & Growing Fruit Trees at Walker Farm with Zeke Goodband…

April 29th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Apple Blossoms at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont

The Sweet Scent of Spring: Filling My Hands with Fragrant Apple Blossom Petals as They Fall from the Trees

A Inspirational, Springtime Stroll through the Heirloom Apple Orchard at Scott Farm in Vermont

Many gardeners dream of an orchard filled with homegrown peaches, plums, pears, quince, cherries and apples, fresh for the picking. Fruit trees make wonderful additions to the home landscape, and given proper selection and care, they will provide both beauty and sustenance to the gardener for many years. Spring is the best time of year to plant young fruit trees, and I’m often asked to incorporate them into my garden designs. It’s important for all gardeners —including professionals— to refresh and supplement their horticultural knowledge from year to year, and stay on top of trends. So over the weekend, I joined an eager audience of backyard gardeners at Walker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, to listen to our local fruit tree expert and orchardist extraordinaire, Zeke Goodband of Scott Farm, share his tips on selecting, growing and pruning fruit trees. I always learn something new from Zeke, and here’s a bit of what he had to offer by way of advice on choosing and caring for young trees in the home orchard…

Orchardist Zeke Goodband demonstrates proper technique for staking young, semi-dwarf fruit trees in the first two years after planting. Pointing out the need for care when strapping trees to stakes, in order avoid damaging the living cambium layer of the tree, Zeke explains that wire, twine and rope may cut through this important layer of bark. Never tie directly to the tree. Zeke recommends using soft, pliant material —such as cloth or rubber— to create a sling around the bark, in order to protect the tree when anchoring and tying it to stakes.

The most important step to take when planting fruit trees —whether an entire backyard orchard or a single specimen tree in the garden— is to properly assess the site. Fruit trees of all kinds require full sun and excellent drainage. In order for trees to flower and develop fruit, they need light from sunrise to sunset throughout the growing season. A little bit of shade in early morning or late afternoon is acceptable —though not optimal— for fruit trees, but a half day of sun or full shade will not provide fruit trees with the conditions they need to grow and produce fruit. In addition, keep in mind that all fruit trees are intolerant of wet soil. So before you get your heart set on a backyard filled with apples and peaches, explore your site with a shovel. Is it poorly drained? If so, choose another site. When the roots of fruit trees sit in wet soil, the tree will slowly decline and eventually die. Equally important, be sure to provide your fruit trees with plenty of room to grow. Even though many modern fruit trees are referred to as semi-dwarf, they still need to be positioned at least 10′ from buildings and other objects, and 15-20′ from other trees. This is important. In order to grow and flourish —and avoid diseases— trees need ample sunlight and airflow.

Another site issue worth considering when planting fruit trees is the presence of wildlife. Deer can cause a tremendous amount of damage to unprotected fruit trees —both to fruit and branches in all seasons— so if deer are common guests to your property, building a fence —at least 8′ tall— is advisable to protect your home orchard. Apple trees are particularly vulnerable to deer browse. For a single tree or small grouping, a more economical, shorter fence may be used to surround and protect the trees.

Zeke discusses some of the differences between the cherry tree varieties available at Walker Farm, and talks about how to select, and care for young trees after planting

Once a site has been carefully chosen, fruit trees may be ordered bare-root —from an online source or mail-order catalog— or they may be purchased in pots at local orchards, nurseries and garden centers, where they may be hand-selected. Walker Farm sells many kinds of beautiful, hardy fruit trees —apples, cherries, peaches, plums and pears, to name a few— and most are three years old. Peaches begin to provide fruit at a very young age, and although they are short-lived (Zeke suggests re-planting peaches every 10 years or so), they are quick to provide a sweet reward; making them a great choice for that first tree.

Once your fruit trees arrive to their new home, how well they are cared for will determine your success and future yield. Bare root trees will need to be planted soon after they arrive. If you must wait, be sure to keep the trees in a cool, dark place (such as the box in which they arrived). Soak the roots briefly —while digging the holes— and settle them in with a long, slow drink of water after planting (a 5 gallon bucket of water with small hole for steady drip works well). When planting fruit trees —bare root or potted— Zeke discourages improving the subsoil with compost or manure. The goal is to get the trees to settle in; spreading their roots beyond the planting hole. If the soil is over-enriched, the roots of the tree will likely remain confined to the planting hole, instead of spreading out and properly anchoring the tree. When planting a potted tree, dig the hole slightly bigger than the container and back-fill with the same soil. When settling the tree into the hole, be sure to leave the graft-union —looks like a knobby elbow— exposed 2-4″ above the soil, and then back-fill completely —avoiding air pockets— tamping the soil very lightly with your foot when complete. There’s no need to fertilize or add compost as top dressing until the tree leafs out. Once it does, fertilizer (10-10-10) or compost may be sprinkled around the root area and lightly worked in. Young trees do like nitrogen for the first 3-4 years (and peaches grow and fruit best when given nitrogen every year, throughout their lifetime) but never feed your trees after the 4th of July (and always avoid using tree spikes. Zeke really dislikes these —as do I— because in seasons with dry springs and wet falls, they neglect feeding when needed and then provide it at the worst possible time: when trees need to go dormant). In order to discourage pests and eliminate root competition, it’s very, very important to keep the root area of fruit trees clear of weeds and grass. So, a layer of mulch (2-3 inches at the base), plus regular weed patrol, is a good idea.

Voles and string trimmers —both of which damage the tender cambium layer of bark— are the enemy of young fruit trees. Protect your trees by creating 18″ high, circular wire cages from hardware cloth. Avoid use of plastic tree-wraps, as they harbor harmful pests, including borers. Hardware cloth (made from 1/4″ metal mesh), settled into the ground surrounding the tree, is what Zeke recommends to protect young trees from girdling by hungry rodents and/or nicks from unwieldy lawn crews. You may recall my mention of wire tubes for protecting ornamental trees in winter. The construction of hardware-mesh protection for fruit trees is quite similar (click here for previous post).

Young, semi-dwarf trees should also be supported with stakes for the first couple of years (fully dwarf trees should be supported throughout their lifetimes). Be sure to use a non-binding and non-chafing sling when strapping the tree to the stakes. Never use wire or twine —which may cut through the tender, outer bark— and avoid tying twine directly around the tree. Rubber or canvas slings, secured to the stakes with twine, work well to support young trees and prevent them from toppling or rocking in the wind.

Zeke demonstrates fruit thinning on a peach tree  —to one peach every 6″ or so— and explains the importance of this technique. Failure to thin heavy crops of fruit may result in broken branches or limbs and poor fruit production the following season

When selecting young trees, buy early in the season from a reputable orchard, nursery or garden center, and always have a careful look at the entire tree, including the root zone (lift gently at the base and slide the rootball from the pot to insure a healthy, non-pot-bound tree). Also, have a look at the leaves, bark and the basic structure of the tree. Does it look healthy; free of wilted or skeletonized leaves? Avoid bringing trouble home to your garden, and once planted, keep a regular look-out for tent caterpillars and other pests by checking on your trees, and supplying water if necessary, every few days.

Zeke demonstrates how vertically-inclined branches on this pear tree are trained to a more horizontal shape through tying techniques

After fielding some pest-management questions, Zeke went on to demonstrate formative pruning and tying techniques for training young fruit trees for best production. Pollination of fruit trees by honeybees and other insects is very important, and although many fruit trees are cross-pollinated by wide variety of local, flowering trees, Zeke points out that planting fruit trees in multiple usually gives the best results in terms of fruit production. Getting young, upright trees to flower and produce  —particularly upright pear, plum and apple trees— can be a challenge. To encourage fruit production —which takes place on horizontal branches— Zeke demonstrated how vertical limbs are gently trained in a more horizontal or angled position and tied down. This technique can be used with the more upright varieties of pears, apples, plums, peaches and other fruit trees, to encourage a more horizontally-tiered shape. If you have ever trained a climbing rose to flower (using horizontal fan shape) you will be familiar with this concept. Some trees have a naturally open, horizontally-branching framework and require little tying or pruning to produce fruit. For example, the Japanese ‘Shiro’ plum (Prunus ‘Shiro’) has a lovely, open shape; making it aesthetically pleasing as an ornamental and productive as an edible. In addition to tying, Zeke explained the process of thinning apple blossoms from the average of five per cluster to one or two blossoms per cluster. What about pruning? Zeke advises that over-pruning young fruit trees is a mistake. Other than correcting tight crotch angles and removing competing leaders —or other obvious problems like rubbing or broken branches— avoid pruning fruit trees for the first few years. Later on in the life of your fruit tree, prune trees during winter dormancy to keep the shape low, open and horizontally branching, as well as to remove diseased or seasonally damaged wood.

Zeke demonstrates how he would prune this young Honey Crisp apple tree; selecting a strong, central leader and removing a competing, vertical branch

If a gardener is hoping to harvest fruit in the near future, adding a few early-to-bear peach and pear trees would be a great place to start. Walker Farm had several varieties of each on hand; including golden ‘Bartlett’ pears and north-hardy, sweet and juicy ‘Redhaven’ peaches. Zeke  discussed some of the best varieties of cherries for our area, noting that trees producing tart fruits —such as ‘Danube’ and ‘Montmorency’— do better than the sweet cherry varieties this far north. But he quickly dispelled the myth that hardy fruit trees grown locally will do better than those grown outside of this region. Because fruit tree varieties are genetically identical, and grafted upon rootstock, a tree raised in Washington (hardy to your zone) has as good a chance of survival as one grafted and raised up the road. Still, I plan to shop for fruit trees locally to take advantage of the expert advice given by lifelong farmers like Zeke Goodband and Jack Manix. An experienced, successful farmer’s words-of-wisdom —and quick wit— are worth their weight in gold.

Thank you to Zeke Goodband for an incredible seminar, and to Walker Farm for sponsoring a spring’s worth of Saturday morning gardening seminars, free to the public! (Click here for information on upcoming seminars, and register to save your seat)

To read more about Zeke Goodband & his work at Scott Farm Orchard, click here and explore my previous posts (including recipe posts).

 Autumn Apple Harvest at Scott Farm in Vermont

Heirloom Apple Treasures

And of Course, the Best Part of Fruit Trees is … Experimenting in the Kitchen with Orchard-Fresh, Heirloom Fruit! Click here for French Apple Cake Recipe 

Resources for the Home Orchard …

The Best Apples to Buy And Grow (BBG)The Best Apples to Buy and Grow (Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guide Beth Hanson

Growing Fruit RHS Harry BakerGrowing Fruit (RHS Encyclopedia of Practical Gardening Harry Baker

the Backyard Orchardist stella ottoThe Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden Stella Otto

The Apple Grower, Michael PhillipsThe Apple Grower: Guide for the Organic Orchardist Michael Phillips

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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