Black willows are a fascinating tree. Cut and plant a bow in moist soil or water and you’re nearly 100% likely to grow a new tree. Black willows contain high levels of a growth hormone that accelerates root growth. This hormone may be applied to other plants as well: Take a few cuttings (about the size of a pencil each) and soak them overnight in water. This water may then be used to soak other shoots and will act (as do commercial growth hormones) to accelerate growth of new roots. It’s an all-natural, old-fashioned method that works.
Obama signs legislation expanding conservation efforts.
I’ve designed what Erick likes to call the Über Guild for growing cherries, but before we talk about the guild, I think it’s best to describe the overall reasoning for this type of “super guild” formatted orchard.
The ultimate goal of Healing Tree Farm is to encourage others to farm using a do-no-harm approach to farming. Specifically, I’d like to see conventional cherry farmers move to chemical-free methods. It isn’t yet clear whether cherries of appropriate size can be grown using these alternative growing methods, but it’s our goal to try what has been successful in other orchards and apply it with some small modifications.
Better yet, if a farmer can start incorporating some of these methods without a complete overhaul of the linear orchard, the greater chance of them taking that first step toward sustainability.
Okay, so back to the Über Guild: There are several layers of plants that prefer a slightly acidic soil. Firstly, our cherry trees which thrive in a slightly acid soil. Partnering cherry-tree guilds with mulberry guilds, will help fix nitrogen in the soil and keep birds off the cherries. Creating a hedgerow of acid-soil loving blueberries will offer habitat to beneficial insects and birds. And all of this may be accomplished inside the conventional orchard (after some time rebuilding the soil).
To be continued…
Famous ethnobotanist, Gary Paul Nabhin, visited the Traverse Bay area looking at our heritage food stock, especially apples. He is working on another preservation project (www.upnorthfoodies.com). A few orchardists in the region have kept some of the heirloom apples viable, and we can too, by grafting “scion” wood or cuttings on appropriate root stock for our sandy soils. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Bruce Holland Morritz, The Greenman, will guide us through a hands-on workshop at the Eco Learning Center.
Grafting Heirloom Fruit Trees
April 25th, 2009
9-11AM at the Eco Learning Center
*Unheated greenhouse: dress for work and weather*
-Register: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jayne 231-620-4775
-Costs: Donation of volunteer work exchange or baybucks for rootstock – scion wood – instruction.
This will support the Eco Learning Center forest garden.
If you plan to attend the Earth Day parade, we’ll work efficiently and make it to the lineup on time.
Michelle Moore, Secretary
Eco Learning Center
It is my goal to grow cherries without chemicals, but it takes more than planting trees to successfully grow the fruit. Cherries prefer a climate with a solid winter chill exceeding 1000 hours below 44.6° F (7° C) with sustained temperatures above 53.6° F (12 ° C) during propagation. pH should be slightly acidic (between 5.5 and 7.0) and water must be able to drain, so sandy soils like those found in Northern Michigan, are ideal.
Location, climate, temperature and soil. In addition, it’s important to consider root stock and grafting – choosing a nursery that is careful to match appropriate root stocks to trees. (Too rigorous a rootstock can result in splitting around the base leading to infestations.)
Next, the variety must be examined for resistance to cracking and disease, flavor, timing, and size. And all of this research must be done ahead of planting. This is why Michigan invented winter!
We’ve been looking to buy a small farm, but in our search we have to consider the proximity to an orchard. And in the “Cherry Capital of the World,” that can be challenging. The law protects the conventional farmer, but it does not yet protect the small, uncertified farm. The other obvious challenge: You can’t get certified within a certain distance from a conventional orchard because of drift. At the same time, the law also fails to protect residents who live near these orchards. If you were to purchase land away from an orchard, but then someone purchases the land next door, clears the trees and plants an orchard and begins spraying, you’ve just lost your farm. However, if you are a conventional farmer who decides not to “farm” any longer, your trees must be removed to “protect” the “vitality” of other nearby orchards. The legal system seems to follow the big money.
I know that sounds jaded, but the prevailing attitude of law-makers since we saw the first asbestos-related lawsuit in the 1920s, has been to protect the industry, not the individual.
We know pesticides are dangerous for people working on or living near conventional cherry farms and yet the public cannot see the crisis unfolding because people like me get sick, or the daughter of some cherry farmer dies of lymphoma, or a neighbor dies up the road from leukemia, or someone miscarries multiple times, or a baby is born with a heart anomaly, or our children seem to suffer with rabid allergies each spring, but they’re unwilling to piece it together – to see the pattern because doing so would affect their livelihood.
The US Government ruled in the 1930s, that banning asbestos would cause great economic harm.
Okay, so what can we do? Can we file suit against the industry? Can we write letters to the editor? Can we stand in protest? Can we ask individual townships to enforce higher standards to protect residents by moving the trees farther away from other properties? We can certainly try. And the best thing we can do, we can lead by example. We can teach people about the value of eating organic, whole foods; teach them to cook for themselves; to grow for themselves; to appreciate the reality of cleaner air and water; to see the value in protecting our wild places, our own homes, our animals and children; we can heal this wound through teaching others. That’s what we do. In fact there’s only one thing we cannot do: We can’t give up.
If you have ideas for getting the world involved in more sustainable practices, please leave your ideas as comments below. And megwetch!