Broad Valley Orchard

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What a Growing Season!


Judy and I have been operating Broad Valley Orchard since 1983, and in our 33 years of successful farming, we have sure seen the toughest year that we have experienced.  Those of you who live in the North East US will know what I’m talking about:  First we saw one of the toughest winters that we have seen; and Judy is from Syracuse, and I’m from near the Western Pa. Snow Belt.  We’ve also lived thru Northern Idaho winters as well as living in Alaska and on the Northern New England Coast.  We thought we were pretty well accustomed to winter, but this year takes the cake, because this winter’s 9 foot snow drifts were the biggest we’ve ever seen.  Luckily we kept the hoop houses cleaned off and shoveled out our 1800 foot long foot path that connects all our endeavors.

But then, after a respite of an almost normal Spring, we fell prey to drought and heat waves from late May until just recently.  We had to use our well to irrigate our berry patches and orchard, as well as the outside gardens and hoop houses, by June.  It got into the mid-90’s F., and the sun was burning all  that it touched.  We first cut half of our hay field, and used it as mulch everything that we were trying to grow.  That worked well, except the bright sun in a cloudless sky ‘sun burned’ the top of the trees’ fruit, and enterprising insects and birds soon discovered these ‘cooked’ patches, and their feelings led to a lot of fruit rot spreading.  e also had to battle the most Codling and Oriental Fruit moths we’ve ever seen.

Even working in the garden was an open invitation to heat exhaustion, but we survived.  Finally last week, we got some rain!  But those six to eight inches came down as a wind driven deluge.  So most of the still hanging apples were knocked to the ground.  But we still didn’t give up!  We gathered all the drops and tree hanging banged up fruit, and made it into apple sauce and dried apples.  Our CSA customers do appreciate those healthy treats.

I also tried a few experiments with dropped fruit.  We have always made sweet cider and hard cider with the drops, but this year I did some experimenting.  I’ve been making ‘summer tonics’ for years from our berries, and we do press cider from the ‘seconds’ apples.  Since e did have a lot of small but sweet pears, this year I made my first successful “Perry”.  My past experiments with ‘perry’ were disappointing; it tasted pretty bland.  So this year I added some red raspberries = what a difference!  I then made a test cider from apples and red raspberries, and again – Eureka!  It was great!

So that is the news from this “Summer from Hell”. We survived, and we learned a lot.               Thom and Judy


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