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Re: [nafex] Are your plants working for you? AKA, Ruthless culling
> Slightly different topic: Ed, what "basics" do you see novice fruit
> growers most often violating? I offer poor choice of
> species/cultivar/rootstock, planting in shady sites, and no after-care
> as the boo-boos I see most often.
There are many basic aspects of horticulture which folks ignore in varying
degrees. And I'll list them in order of importance and/or commonality, at least to
my view. (Keep in mind that I'm just now understanding that "I've been on the farm
too long and the outside world has "passed" me by!")
1. Lack of pruning or limb management from day of planting. And as trees get
older, the problem becomes more severe.
2. Lack of attention to preplant soil conditioning. This is a severe problem
with newly built homes where soils have really been abused by machinery traffic and
related compaction. Even when this is not a factor, folks tend to think that trees
can be planted on the poorest or most eroded location and they'll do okay just
because they are trees.
3. Lack of any fruit thinning regime (on most all fruits).
4. Lack of understanding when fruit is ripe. I'm often amazed by the number
of folks who think it must hit the ground before it is ready to harvest.
5. Lack of knowledge about local pests and outright refusal to research
proper spray materials. In many locations with correct varieties and properly
timed pesticide applications, their overall requirements are less than folks
commonly use to grow many vegetable types.
These are a few which come to mind.
Also, I enjoyed and appreciate your comparrison to the brief genetic
influences of a flock of sheep.
Many (perhaps most) fruit species have had this exact same problem, except
that it has hung around for many centuries. This is possibly the one thing which
became crystal clear during my trip to Russia wherein I had the good fortune to
view many wild forests of apple and pear. Also, the collection at the now-defunct
Mycop station likewise had an incredible number of really unusual wild apples.
And this continues under the pretentious idea of importance of preserving
many, if not most old varieities. The most unusual and intriguing thing about this
statement is that with a lot of folks, this very simple observation constitutes
some sort of "blasphemy" or something "bad".
My good friend Tom Burford was quoted in Frank Browning's book, APPLES,
something to the effect, "......far too many folks have a severe case of
The late Bob Kurle once told me that I should not make such statements because
within NAFEX, there were many so-called "preservation minded folks who were
unwilling to even look at the facts".
Later on, sometime in the mid-80s, during a visit with the late Fred Janson, I
asked him to address this preservation question. His response was a bit more
detailed or he simply stated that this sort of moral hogwash was common to the
acceptible definition of human "logic". He went on to reference basic Darwin
observations of what goes on in the natural process of evolution. He also strongly
emphasized the basic fact that horticulture was exactly like all other forms of
food production. Or, because of the need to feed the population, it was totally
artificial in nearly every conceivable way simply because humans were the only
species on the planet where a few fed the masses.
And the same holds true for pesticide usage, or an incredible number of folks
never bother to do any investigation of relative safety or eco-efficiency.
Anyway, these sorts of things require an educational process. As you may
know, horticulture is not taught in many schools. When my son was in high school,
during a biology course, the class skipped the section on plant propagation.
Despite the fact that he was well versed in various grafting techniques at the time
and so told the teacher, her response was that it was not important.
He was also severely chastised once when he pointed out to the same teacher
that the process of photosynthises as described in the text book was wrong or
backward. Or, the book had been written by someone who either didn't have a clue
or it was poorly edited.
Anyways, while the above is a bit rambling or windy, I simply wanted to
mention some of the reasons why NAFEX's collective experience is so valuable.
There is a wealth of experience within its membership and this educational
opportunity exists if somehow we, as a group, can wean ourselves from the fringe
issues and concentrate on the stated purpose(s) of the organization.
Also, this is an opportunity for nondestructive fun as folks really enjoy
listening to the indigenous color which most NAFEXers seem to possess!
Ed, So. Indiana, 13.8 miles from heaven, snow, etc.
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