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Re: [nafex] old time orchard advice
john van hazinga wrote:
> My currant philosophy of life is that I came from the earth , I'll return
> to the earth and inbetween time I garden.
While indeed the above philosophy is grand and noble, this operational
philosophy is quickly becoming dangerously close to extinction, for a host of
Foremost is our society's collective and very recent addiction to instant
gratification and related convenience.
This exploded, primiarly from "advanced" technology, initiated by the intro
of the TV back in the late 50s (time of mass accessability) through the present
(our casual use of this machine).
Most everything which horticulture embraces violates this addition, but
primarily the indigenous character of patience (time requirements) is counter
productive to this addiction.
I was raised in rural Kentucky, in the foothills just east of a small town
called Webster. My father was a great farmer and was deeply in to soil
stewardship. Back then, this view was called common sense, not "organic",
"sustainable", ecological, or any of the other modern day warm/fuzzy
However, he was a very poor business man and eventually lost the farm to
feed these fashionable addictions of instant gratification (acquistion of techno
While I too was given this addiction at an early age, by my mid 20s, it
became so boring that I knew I had to return to farming as a profession and
lifestyle. Being broke and unwilling to borrow my way in, with the help of a
very patient woman, I managed to acquire our present farm and turn it into a
successfull operation. And as many of you know, I too was temporarily seduced
by all that warm/fuzzy eco rhetoric. However, since much of it violated natural
law (eg, farming of ANY type is unnatural) this dogmatic approach was abandoned
after some seven years.
> However at present I remodel
> houses to support my horticultural habits.
You are wise, John, beyond your years (even if you old!). Unless one is
into turf and ornamentals, horticultural habits require outside support. Also,
I should add that many, if not all self proclaimed horticultural gurus are not
at all professional farmers by any stretch of the imagination. Many are no more
than sofisticated shooters of the warm/fuzzy bull. I call them professional
charlatans-hort wannabes. And some have become quite successful in presenting
these illusions. Or, as my good friend Steve Page once said, "there is a hell
of lot more money in writting about growing fruit than actually growing it".
We recently sold Rocky Meadow and while it was indeed successful (by my
standards anyway), increasingly it became difficult to turn a profit.
And as most of you aware, an incredible number of both small and large hort
entities have called it quits during the last few years, for the exact same
reasons cited above.
> this years major project
> involved tearing out about 350 square feet of floor in a 1820 colonial
> and between the original floorboards and a layer of oak strip flooring my
> workers and I found a layer of 1885 newspapers in poor shape but with an
> occasional readable section among which was
> HOW TO PLANT YOUR ORCHARD TO BE A FAILURE
> "As many persons seem to try to see how little fruit they can make their
> apple trees bear, and also seem to take pride in growing worthless
> varieties, I will give such men a few hints to aid them in their endeavors
> to render their orchards of no value. First crop the land where the
> trees are to be set until there is no fertility left in it. A good test of
> that state is to plant a few hills of white beans on it; and if it fails to
> grow any pods of these beans, the land is in the right condition. Next, see
> that the fences are down around the field, so that your own and neighbors
> cattle can come in when the trees are planted, and browse on them, which
> will save you the expense of trimming them once per year.
> In buying your trees, ask your nurseryman if he has a "cheap lot" and
> say that you are setting trees for the use of others, that you are close to
> dead broke, and that you are not about to pay out much money for them..."
> the original copy disintegrates here.
This is simply a nugget of a treasure, or lends much credibility to the
ageless wisdom, "if one fails to study history, one is doomed to repeat it"!!
In the years of my NAFEX involvement, I've visited countless member
plantings. And while I've had the opportunity to view some really high quality
plantings of both backyard and commercial types, the one most common glaring
oddity I've run into is a profound lack of understanding of BASIC horticulture.
And this is the central area in which NAFEX has the opportunity to be of
great benefit, or simply to establish vehicles of teaching the BASICS. These
vehicles include volunteering to teach hort classess in local schools (grades K
through 6), forming local chapters, assisting in the USDA's Master Gardening
program, hosting workshops on propagation, pruning, pest management, etc.
I'm sure there are others, but WE ALL must get away from the idea that we
have to "save the world" by perpetuation of some real goofy idealogies. Or,
more realistically, if we want to save horticulture from extinction, it seems
apparent that we must save basic skills.
Also, I am optimistic that this will happen as I've recently seen an
infusion of new blood in NAFEX activity. Charlotte Shelton of VA, John 'd
Reeder of NY, Ethan Natelson (the Prez., no less) and others have taken the bull
(in some ways, very literal) by the horns and are in the process of wrestling
this bull to the ground where much work can be done.
Have a great Holiday season.
Ed, So. Indiana, heaven (with beautiful snow), etc.
John-Van, if I've embarressed you, you'll just to get over it!!!!
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