So much has changed at the Cloverleaf since last year! The orchard is looking beautiful and I’m getting ready for a busy fruit picking season. The most significant change is that my three lovely farm partners, Sasha, Aubrey and Marisa, are no longer at the farm. This is a real bummer as so much happened when there were four of us! When I look back on 2012, I am amazed at how much we did and how much we tried to do. This year, the alumni farmers are busy and thriving in their jobs and going to be visiting the farm a lot this summer to get their share of the tasty fruit.
I decided to go ahead on my own and keep going with the fruit orchard, but given my limited time on the farm had to scale back from the vegetables. In the past, I’ve mainly worked on vegetable farms, so taking care of fruit trees is new and exciting for me! Many people ask me whether this is easier than growing vegetables, but I can definitely say that 4 acres of hand-pruned, hand-picked fruit is no easy task. Peaches and nectarines are a troublesome crop too in this area — thrips, powdery mildew, fruit thinning, peach leaf curl all conspire to make organic management a labor of love.
Some things are going better in the orchard than last year – the peaches and nectarines were sprayed successfully for peach leaf curl and thrips. However, little did I realize that the fruit drop because of the leaf curl actually makes the thinning job way easier! We will have so many peaches this year, but unless I can pick up the thinning pace, they may all be on the small side. The wind this spring also made the powdery mildew worse, so the organically-certified salt solution I am spraying is having less effect than I was hoping. Also, the trees are taking a beating – you can see those shredded leaves below! The last couple weeks have calmed down a bit and the new growth is looking much better. Overall, there is a LOT of tasty looking fruit out there.
The fruit and vegetable CSA season will start next week – I am working with Matt Lechmaier from Kingfisher Farm. Matt’s organizing the CSA, who uses organic practices to grow his vegetables and I am providing fruit for the boxes. I also offer a fruit-only CSA share. The farmstand will start up in a month and then we are hoping to sell fruit to a number of local stores & CSAs. So hopefully if you are reading this, you will get to taste one of the Robada or Blenheim apricots or the June Pride or O’Henry peaches! Mmm, my favorites!