Orchard Walk less walked… for now
Playing around in these fields is still a great idea. Just the apples are missing. So we thought we’d set up a circuit through some of the fields that many of you know, and some paths that you don’t, yet. Along the way will be signs that explain why our orchards look the way they do, why we hang weird objects in certain trees, how one frost in May canceled 75% of the crop, and why our risky climate grows such superior apples. Plus other bits and pieces of info that you may or may not care to know. One good feature is that you can walk and read or walk and not read.
Or not walk. We’re thinking about the weekend wagon rides, too, since so many people enjoy rolling at 2mph among the trees. Probably we’ll do some wagon rides just for fun.
As soon as possible we’ll list the apple varieties we will and will not be able to offer this year. Feel free to call or write during this month for our best guess about Golden Russet or Calville or any of your other favorites.
July 1: Our earlier report (below) is proving true: the cider apples survived May frosts much better than the pick-your-own varieties. So, at the moment, we think the Fall farm stand will be open with ready-picked apples and of course Farnum Hill ciders. Pick-your-own looks iffy so far, though running around in the orchards will still be fun. In a few weeks we’ll figure out what more to tell you.
June 15: New News: Wow! There’s a beautiful crop of cider apples in our Plainfield orchard on Black Hill! Thank you, diverse variety mix! And, Steve estimates that one of our most important crossover varieties, Esopus Spitzenberg, looks undestroyed! Thank you, rugged landscape of microclimates!
Unfortunately, the prospects look less bright for a jolly Poverty Lane Fall pick-your-own in 2010. Ditto for most of the wholesale ‘Uncommon Apples.’ However, for the place as a whole, 2010 is now officially ‘different,’ rather than ‘disastrous.’
Lots of interesting questions: can we make ‘typical’ Farnum Hill Ciders this year? Very likely not, given the unusual variety mix that came through the freeze. So do we produce some atypical, bittersweet-heavy FHC’s and put special ‘2010 Frost Year’ labels on them? Over in England that kind of cider would seem familiar, but here it’s yet another new old thing. Do we just sell the juice to other serious cidermakers and just run out of typical FHC for a while? How about a bit of each?
June 2: New Clues: Without fine horticultural detail, there is a late-June phenomenon called “June Drop,” when our fruit trees throw off their badly-pollinated or otherwise damaged little fruits. We know there’s some kind of patchy localized fruit-set (early apple formation) out there, but we don’t know how many will stay on the trees when they make their ‘decision’ about what to grow on. More later.
May Bummer Bulletin: With all the newly-pollinated blossoms hanging out in the open air three weeks earlier than normal, the bad thing happened. Normal came back: a normal few days with normal frosty nights. And the teeny apples froze through, which usually kills them. Not to mention the cherries (be brave, summer pie people.)
So here’s where the old old expression “nipped in the bud” gets back to its literal sense. The weather in February, March and April has been, if you are a fruit grower, scary warm. The buds on the trees raced ahead, cracking open, pushing up leaf and flower clusters, opening the clusters into frail little single buds with no cold protection. This is one of the possibilities that fruit growers dread in Spring. Because if regular seasonal temperatures reassert themselves, the buds freeze through at night. Ordinarily they would stay pressed together till the cold nights pass, but not this year.
At Poverty Lane Orchards/Farnum Hill Ciders (PovCo for short), with such varied crops (raspberries, pie cherries pears, plums, and a hundred kinds of apples) growing on so many different slopes, we won’t know for a while what percentage of itty-bitty post-pollination fruits may grow on. Thirty years ago was the last time H.R.H. Jack Frost de-fruited the orchards here, so maybe we’re due. If so, look here for madly creative and fascinating orchard-based concepts in the near future. If not, back to normal crazy.