Broad Valley Orchard

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May Day – Apple Blossom Time in Pennsylvania

Hello Fruit Fans,

Whew, I think our blooms escaped the Mid-April cold snap! Local growers probably lost most of their early and mid-season stone fruit crop. Reports from the South and Mid-west suggest that those growers also got their apple crop hit. So now the floral display on our two hundred pome trees is in full swing, but… Seems there is always a “BUT” in this profession..

I have been out in the orchard monitoring the pollinators. We have plenty of BigBumblebees, and tiny fast moving Orchard Miners, Blueberry (green) Bees, and the other native ‘solitary’ bees. I have only seen two native honeybees; usually we see thousands more. I will know if our area is being afflicted with Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), when the big orchards release truckfuls of imported European Honey Bees. During a normal bloom, our orchard pollination receives a boost from these “free-bees”, and some of them swarm and move into old snags in our woods.

Well, I am glad that our shelter belt of 500 trees, and all our old farm buildings host our native pollinators. And if, by chance, CCD is caused by all the cell phone beams screwing up apian navigational systems, I think that will be sad commentary on the downfall of the human race.

I had a good trip over to NW Pa. last weekend. I met with many environmentalists, and folks in the Local Foods movement. Several of these folks were Certified Naturally Grown farmers like we are. I was honored to perform the yearly CNG inspection on Silver Wheel CSA Farm, owned and operated by Lori Sands, and Ben Shaevitz, in Bulter county. They have a nice 4 A. farm in those old glacial moraine hills. They are starting to put in some fruit trees. I applaud all ‘natural fruit’ growers, but I caution them all: ” You don’t have to be crazy to grow apples without sprays, but it certainly helps.”

Ah, off to final till the rye cover crop in our North Garden, so I can plant corn, melons, and squash soon. In our west garden, our peas, onions, and potatoes are up. Sometimes I love this job!

Thank You

Thom Marti

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