Orchard Maintenance at Apple Luscious Organic Orchard
My Experience at the Organic Orchard on Salt Spring Island
I invested the Summer of 2018 working with Apple Connoisseur Harry Burton of Apple Luscious Organic Orchard. On this permaculture orchard, there are over 200 varieties of rare and heritage apples. His focus has been on collecting and growing the “best tasting connoisseur apple varieties in the world, both heritage and new, plus red-fleshed apple varieties.”
The Orchard is certified organic, grown using natural fertilizers such as seaweed, manures, clay, oyster shells as well as wood chips and hay for mulch. Located on the South End of Salt Spring Island, this Orchard is in a beautiful spot close to nature, clean water, clean air, and opportunities to learn and contribute to the community.
I would highly recommend touring the orchard, and attending the Salt Spring Apple Festival to try the rare apple varieties. If you have a property on Salt Spring Island, I recommend purchasing a few apple trees for your property… For young farmers and permaculture students, I recommend touring the orchard or volunteering with Harry Burton at Apple Luscious. It was a great experience for me as I got to contribute to the community by growing organic food while getting healthier & stronger. It was great to learn how to grow and care for a certified Organic Orchard.
Working with Harry Burton at Apple Luscious, I learned new skills including apple tree grafting, apple tree pruning, as well as fruit tree care, fertilization, and mulching. I also prepared the soil and planted hundreds of young trees in the apple tree nursery.
Each week I would take a machete and clear blackberries, thimbleberries, thistles, and stinging nettles, back from the Apple Trees. Then I would move 40-60 wheelbarrows of clay to build large clay bowls around the Fruit Trees. Each large tree would get 20-50 wheelbarrows of clay. Each wheelbarrow is about 100lbs; So we each moved 3-5 tons of clay per week. The clay adds minerals to the soil, binds and holds fertilizers with a high cation exchange rate, helps retain moisture, and suppresses all the weeds around the older apple trees. The trees were then heavily mulched with Fir Shavings from a local planing mill.
I really enjoyed watching the spring mason bees at work. I enjoyed eating fresh produce from the orchard. thimbleberries, salmonberries, blackberries, blueberries, and apples. Another bonus for me was the amazing ecstatic dance community at Beaver Point Hall and favorite local hikes including the Tsawout Reserve, Ruckle Park, Cusheon Cove, and Yeo Point. My favorite variety of the early apples so far is Williams Pride. I am excited to try the red flesh apples and some of the older heirloom varieties like Gravenstein and Belle de Boskop.
The three Pearls of Wisdom I picked up here are.
- How to Use Mycorrhizae when planting new fruit trees http://nigelkay.ca/orchard-planting-secrets-mycorrhizae/
- How to plant an apple nursery https://vimeo.com/217782633
- How to build a mason bee house for better pollination. https://vimeo.com/217725361
“Wow, the Orchard has never looked this good.
This is some special treatment”
– Harry Burton, Apple Luscious Organic Orchard.
If you would like to purchase apple trees or scion wood, contact Harry at Apple Luscious.