The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
April 2013

Dateline: 30 April 2013

Farewell to The Blogazine
(it's time for a change)

Oh no. Not again....

Dear Friends,

Well, here it is, the last day of the month, our regularly-scheduled meeting time for another issue of the Deliberate Agrarian blogazine, and I am only now just sitting down to the computer, with a few half-baked ideas in my head to write about. This is no way to run a blogazine, and I've come to the point where, to borrow an analogy from Richard Grossman, The Midland Agrarian, "I am going to be parking this weblog for a while, removing the battery, draining the oil, taking off the tires and putting her up on blocks."

But I'm not putting the whole blog up on blocks—just the monthly blogazine approach.

You long-time readers may recall that I started The Deliberate Agrarian back in 2005. Then, come April of 2009 (four years after starting the blog), I posted The Ruminations End, wherein I stated that I was no longer going to blog. But, for awhile, I would post a Deliberate Agrarian update letter on the last day of each month. 

I assumed The Deliberate Agrarian would fade away, but readership went up, and the monthly update letter soon turned into the monthly blogazine format. Those four years of blogazine "issues" are all archived at this link: The DA Blogazine Archives.

I am taking a new direction with this blog because my life has taken a new direction. Since getting out of prison back in January I just don't have the time I once had to put a monthly blogazine together. It is something of a paradox that I "retired" from a job and have less time to write. But you would understand perfectly if you knew what my job entailed.

To  make a long story short, for 13 years I had a job that didn't require much of me. I didn't actually work. Fact is, I'll never forget when I was interviewed for the job I was told that they did not want me doing any work. That's what the inmate employees were for. So I "supervised" inmates in a shop making office furniture. I handed out and collected tools at allotted times, and I handed out orders that needed to get done, and the inmates pretty much ran the shop. Oh, sure, I truly had some serious responsibilities, it being a maximum security prison and all, and I had to deal with numerous issues as they arose. But, for the most part, I had a lot of time each day (and sometimes entire days), when I had nothing to do.

Many people, when they have nothing to do, do nothing. They idle away the hours gossiping, or engaging in pointless discussions, or doing Suduku, or crossword puzzles, or playing solitaire, or reading trashy novels, all of which amounts to, as I said, doing nothing.

As a person who likes to write, or, more specifically, is inwardly driven to write, I can keep myself productively occupied for hours with nothing more than paper and a pen. And that's what I did with my free time for thirteen years. I didn't have access to the internet or a computer to write, so I did it the old fashioned way.

I would sit behind a desk in my shop, where I was available when needed, and where I could keep an eye on everything, and I would write. Most of the hundreds of blog and blogazine posts I have written here since 2005 were first written longhand in prison, as time presented itself, on folded pieces of copy paper. I kept the folded pieces of paper stuffed in my pockets. Some days I'd come home with a couple pages of writing. Other days I'd have a large wad of papers. I don't think a day went by that I did not write something.

Truth be told, I wrote most of all seven of my self-published Whizbang books in prison.

I did not realize going into the job that it would allow me so much time. But when I did realize that I had time to spare, I saw it as an opportunity to be productive in my own way, with the hopeful goal of building a home business that would pay the bills so I could get out of prison. And that's the way it eventually played out, thank God.


Now, 3.5 months after breaking free of the drudgery of a government non-work job, and the guilt of collecting a check for not doing much of anything, I am joyfully busy doing real work, full time, at the home business and around my homestead. 

Real work is a beautiful thing. I can report that I feel stronger and more healthy after coming home. I am on the go every day, bouncing from task to task, from early morning until I "hit the wall" in the evening. Then I drop into bed, exhausted. And I sleep better than I have in years. And I'm working on getting my desk-job-softened hands back into callused shape.

So, you see, I don't have the time to blog like I did in the past. Now, instead of blogging once a month on the last day, I'm going back to blogging intermittently, when I feel inspired to share something here, like I did for the first four years, but probably less often than I did in those early years. My future blog posts here will probably also be short and contain less depth of thought and detail. They will be similar to the two essays I posted earlier this month. In case you missed them, here they are...

Birth of an Orchard
Part 1

Birth of an Orchard
Part 2

Subscribe By E-Mail

This blog now has a place where you can sign up to get new posts by e-mail. It's on the right side of the page, near the top. Go ahead and sign up, so you don't miss a blog post. Don't worry about me getting your e-mail and sending spam or anything like that. It's not going to happen.

My Newest Book 
Is Now Available For Purchase

This Planet Whizbang logo will be prominently featured on the front cover of the book.

If you are subscribed to the Planet Whizbang newsletter, you already know that The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners is now available for pre-purchase. In fact, it may well be that you have already purchased a copy. 

If you go to the web site you can read the Introduction to the book, and learn what's in it by reading the Contents.

I've been surprised (and a little bit overwhelmed) by the volume of orders that have come in over the last couple of days since I sent out the newsletter. If you did order a book, I sincerely thank you! And I will be confirming your order with an e-mail, but it will be a few days before I get confirmations to you all. If you don't get a confirmation e-mail from me by this Sunday, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail query... I don't want to mistakenly miss anyone's book order.

For those of you who missed the newsletter, I summed up my new book as follows:
You will enjoy the adventure of discovery that awaits you in this one-of-a-kind book. You will be a smarter, more clever, and better gardener as a result of reading this book. And you will also be greatly inspired.

The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners is being launched without a lot of fanfare. I don't Twitter and I don't Facebook. I just don't have the time for that sort of thing. And I'm really not all that sophisticated when it comes to electronically hyping my books. I tend to rely more on word-of-mouth marketing—and time—to sell books. With that in mind, I would be grateful if those of you who are familiar with my past books (and liked them) would pass the word about this newest book (and the book's web site), via e-mails, blogs, twits, and face-bookings. 

Whizbang Solar Pyramids 
Make Great Coldframes!

These tomato seedlings are in an ideal solar pyramid environment on sunny days, and brought into the house when the temperature outdoors drops. (click to see an enlarged view)

Back in the June 2012 Blogazine issue I showed a remarkable picture of a Whizbang solar pyramid in my garden. That picture generated a lot of interest, as well it should. The solar pyramids are amazing cloche structures. I tell how to make and use them in my new book.

But it never occurred to me that the solar pyramids would make ideal cold frames for starting plants in the spring. That is, it never occurred to me until a few days ago. It is past practice for us to start tomato seedlings inside the house on the windowsill and, when sunny spring days come, we transport them outside into a garden cart with a sheet of clear plastic spring-clamped over it. The makeshift cart-as-a-greenhouse has worked for years, but it is a bother because the cart has to be continually repositioned to get full sun into it. Besides that, if it gets hot outside, the plastic has to be vented.

But I have discovered that if I simply put a solar cone on the lawn, in full sun, and put a flat of seedlings under it, the solar "appliance" is all set for the day—no need to continually move it to get sun, and it self ventilates, which is one of the amazing features of the pyramids. The plastic I use provides an environment of diffuse sunlight. It is ideal for getting young plants, in the ground, or in a flat, off to a great start.

When it cools down at night, it's no big deal to just pull the cover off and bring the flat of seedlings inside.

Howard Phillips Has Died

I feel compelled to mention the passing of Howard Phillips. I heard him speak once at a homeschool convention and I sensed that I was listening to somebody special. 

Mr. Phillips was was a wise man of rare integrity. Though not known as an agrarian, he believed and fought for several principles that have historically been embraced by agrarian-minded people. He was an advocate of smaller, decentralized government, and personal responsibility. He believed in the sanctity of life, and the value of strong traditional families 

Like anyone who stands for such things in post-Christian America, he was criticized. But from what I've been able to discern, he didn't compromise what he understood to be true and right for either convenience or personal advancement. I admire that in any man.

Howard Phillips's son, Doug, recently wrote a tribute to his father and I encourage you to read it at THIS LINK.

Dave Ramsey Gets A Plug

Not that Dave needs any promotion from me, but the guy has a way of very effectively communicating some fundamental economic wisdom to the masses, and I believe he has blessed my family in doing so.

I signed up two of my sons (and their girlfriends) to go through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It amounted to a 1.5 hour class once a week for nine weeks. Cost was a couple hundred bucks. It was worth every cent. My kids loved it. They want to go again.

I don't agree with everything Dave teaches, but I sure do agree with his advice on debt, which is to not go into debt. I've tried to drive that bit of rock-solid, contra-industrial wisdom home with my kids for years. But I'm not the master communicator that Dave Ramsey is. When Dad says it, and then Dave Ramsey says it (in his own special way), well then maybe it's important enough to take really seriously.

By the way, I see that Dave Ramsey has built a new house. I dare say, if I had the money to build a house like that, I sure wouldn't build a house like that! 

Gardening & Hope 
In The Springtime

I've blogged here for so long that I've forgotten what I wrote. When putting together the web site for my newest book, I came across the following 2008 post. I'm reposting it here because I like it, and it's fitting for this season of the year....

I have a section of good soil for my garden. I have gardening tools. I have seeds. I have compost. I have strength in my body, and the will to use it. And I have hope. It is springtime. 
Already I have removed the detritus of last year’s garden: straw-mulch, remnants of floating row cover fabric, trellis frames, and long-dead vegetative refuse. Then I tilled the slate clean. I am ready. I have hope, because it is springtime.
The freshly-turned earth in my garden is moist and soft and sensual. We have been apart too long. The separation of winter has made my heart grow fonder. It is good to once again be back with my garden. It is springtime, and my hope runs high.
Long lengths of sisal string, stretched taunt between stakes, mark my rows. Below a line, my hand slices through the soil, making a furrow, just so. As I work with my hands, the cool earth packs in dark crescents under my fingernails. Each fingertip has a smile, as does my face. It is springtime in my garden, and I have hope.
Freedom can be found in a garden. Great masses of modern men are shackled to the degrading work of our industrialized economy. We submit to the drudgery of efficiency, of specialized, repetitive, trivial tasks. We are, at the same time, active participants and victims of the exploitation. But when we work in our gardens, the chains fall off. We find escape. There is hope, and it is strongest in the springtime.
I have commenced to plant some seeds in my garden: lettuce, spinach, and parsley. To plant these properly, I must kneel in the soil. There are devices that allow one to plant while standing. But, no, I must kneel. And I will bow my head as I place the hard, lifeless specks in the furrow. Planting seeds in the garden is, after all, an act of faith. Faith and hope, seed-in-furrow, hand-in-hand, in the springtime.
The planting of seeds in my garden, by hand, on my knees, is a simple action of rebellion against the modern order. It is an act of wisdom and significance in the midst of a foolish and vacuous world. It is voluntary submission to an older, higher calling. There is hope in this doing, in this calling. And this hope is greatest in the springtime.
Like every gardener, through every age, from the beginning of time, I envision what will be as I plant seeds in my garden. I see the entire garden planted. The seeds have grown to lush and fruitful maturity. I see divinely-inspired beauty. I see the bounty of the harvest on my family’s dinner table. I see the goodness preserved and stored in our pantry. I see into the future, with hope, in the springtime.
Food, fresh food from the garden, is, of course, on my mind when I am planting. I imagine the satisfaction of eating what I have grown. The flavors of steamed summer squash, of cucumber slices in vinegar, of fresh peas and young potatoes, of just-picked, peak-ripe tomato slices mixed with cilantro, of cabbage salad, of cantaloupes, of green beans, of cold, juiced carrots in the fall, and more. My mouth waters at such thoughts. They fill me with hope in the springtime.
There are people who are repulsed by the idea of growing their own food. They consider it wasted time, or an outward expression of poverty. They seek a richer life in modern leisure and amusements. Blinded by the fog of industrial-cultural, they search far and wide, in vain, failing to see that the answer is directly under their feet. They too could be co-creators, they too could be partakers in the mystery, and the wonder, and the beauty. They too could know the hope that comes to a gardener in the springtime.
I do not yet know for certain, but I believe gardening is eternal. One day, after my lifeless body, a mere speck in the vastness of creation, is placed in the soil and covered over, after my soul is transplanted into the realm of He who, out of love, created the garden and all that is, then I will know. But one thing is sure now: Hope is eternal in the heart of this gardener... especially in the springtime.

Birth of an Orchard
Part 2
Layout & Planting

Dateline: 20 April 2013

On my way to plant apple trees. (click on any of the pictures to see enlarged views)

This installment of Birth of an Orchard will give you some perspective of the layout of my land and where the orchard will be located. I'll explain how I planted the trees, and fenced them.

It was a cold and raw day in April when I loaded my tractor wagon with trees and supplies for planting the apple orchard of my dreams. It had rained most of the previous two days. The wind was steady out of the west and more rain was in the forecast. It seemed like the ideal kind of day for getting apple trees planted.

For more than 20 years my family has lived on a 1.5 acre section of rural land, and I have long wanted to expand the size of our property. Last year we providentially acquired 16 acres right next to our home. In the picture above I am driving down the road, away from our 1.5 acre lot. Our house is up the hill, past the telephone pole you see in the distance. The wooded land you see along the side of the road is part of our 16 acres. I can't just drive through the woods to the field portion of the new land because there is a deep gully and stream running through the woods. I have to drive down the road...

That double-wide trailer came with the new land.

As I drive further down the road, there is a bend to the left and the double-wide trailer that came with the new property comes into view. Most people would have bought the house and got the land with it. We bought the land and got the house with it. That house is packed with all kinds of inventory and work tables for my Planet Whizbang mail-order business. Just past those pine trees in the picture above is an entrance to the field portion of our new land...

Entering the field.

As you can see, the ground is wet with standing water at the entrance to the field. The trees at the top of the hill define our eastern property line.

Heading up to the future orchard.

The apple orchard will be 2/3 of the way up the hill, about in the center of this picture. The T-post on the left side of the picture marks the beginning of a very wet spot in the field. Water comes up out of the ground there and flows down into a ditch behind the house, then into the stream. There are several field tiles under the ground that flow full bore into the ditch. It is a spring-fed area. A lot of water. It would be a good place to have a pond..... someday.

Part way up the field, looking back at where I entered the field (by the pine trees).
The above picture is looking west. There is a valley, and the rise of land in the distance is the other side of the valley

I've already dug the tree holes.

I had already dug the holes for the trees. I dug them by hand, using a shovel and a 17-lb digging bar. The holes are approximately 30" in diameter and 20" deep. I dug 16 holes but I didn't dig them all at once. My body isn't capable of that kind of feat. I dug them over the course of four days. The first day I could only dig three holes before I was physically spent.

 After digging those first three holes, I wondered how I would ever find the wherewithal to dig the other 13 . Then I remembered The Sermon I'll Never Forget, which is the story of Pastor Ralph West as a young Marine at Iwo Jima, marching, after a brutal beach assault, in the hot sun towards Mount Suribachi. And I realized that I would dig all those holes... one shovel of soil at a time. One shovel and one rock at a time.

The above picture also shows (to some degree) the layout of the apple trees. I did not put them in straight rows. I positioned them in concentric, semicircular rows around a knoll. The top row has 4 trees, spaced 30 ft. apart in a 90 ft. radius. The second row has 6 trees, spaced 30 ft. apart in a 120 ft. radius. The third row has 4 trees spaced 30 ft. apart in a 150 ft. radius. And the fourth row has two trees spaced 30 ft. apart in a 180 ft. radius. The 4th row came about after two holes in the third row filled with water (as you will shortly see). Perhaps next year I'll add two or three more trees to the fourth row. And that'll do it.

The radiused placement of the trees was determined by pounding a T-post at the top of the hill, making a ring of heavy wire to fit loosely over the post, and tying a length of baling twine to the ring. I stretched the twine out 90 ft. for marking tree placement in the first semicircular row, and added 30 ft. more of string for each of the other rows. It's an unconventional layout for sure. I like to think it's perfectly contra-industrial to not have straight rows.

As for that spacing of 30 ft., it is a bit further apart than the recommended spacing for trees on B.118 rootstock. But I want to create a spacious little orchard. When the trees are full grown many years from now, I don't think 30 ft. will look as far apart as it does now.

One tree hole 

There is an old saying that when it comes to planting fruit trees, you want a $10 hole for a $5 tree. I guess those prices are some indication of how old the saying is. My trees averaged out to $27 each. So I dug "54-dollar holes." The point being that a good-size hole is important. I think the theory is that the loosened soil in a large hole provides an ideal environment for the tree roots to get off to a good start. 

That's not good.
After a couple days of rain, two of the tree holes I had dug were full of water, as you can see in the picture above. The other 14 holes had no standing water in them at all. Fruit trees need well-drained soil. Two days of rain revealed to me that two of my tree locations were not the best (but 14 of them were very good). So I ended up digging 18 holes for my 16-tree orchard.

Leyland (my tractor) and 12A (my wagon) at the top of the orchard.
Before I commenced to plant trees I took a few pictures from the top of the orchard. They give you some more perspective on the lay of the land. The road that I was driving down in the first picture of this essay is on the other side of those woods.

Lots of rocks.
The picture above shows one of many rock piles that are along our field at the wood-line. This particular rock pile is at the top of the future orchard.

A view over the rock pile

Looking over the rock pile pictured above, into the woods (to the north), you can see some of the stream that runs down through the woods. The road is just beyond. I would like to someday put a large culvert pipe in the stream right at this point and bring in fill to make a driveway through the woods to our field. It would come out on the knoll at the top of the orchard. That would be a big expense, and the government probably has all kinds of regulations that would hinder the idea. But it would be a great place to build a house on the new land.

View to the southwest
For more perspective, this view from the top of my future apple orchard shows  the farm that my land was once part of. My property line is along the corn field. That  farm was the home of my high school pal, Art Dillon. It is a rare piece of property for these parts because the farm consists of land on both sides of the road for nearly a mile. Art's parents have died, and his older brother died, and Art himself died, and the place is now owned by an adopted brother. It was once a well-kept farm, with a nice herd of beef cattle and a small dairy. But the house and barns are now in disrepair and the land is rented to an industrial-scale farmer. I envision that an Amish or Mennonite family will one day buy the land and revive the farm. It would be a family farm again, and that would be nice.

Looking west.
For more perspective, this is a view from the future orchard, looking down at the double-wide house that came with the property. The elderly man who owned our property lived in the double wide. He grew up on the farm in the previous picture. His parents sold it to Art Dillon's family in the early 1970's.  The blue house across the road is where the man's son now lives. Once I figure out what I'm going to do with the excess of water down that way, I'll plant some rows of pine trees behind the doublewide. Picture those grown pines on the left all around behind the house. It will give my field a little  more privacy from people driving along the road.

My future apple orchard came in a relatively small bundle.

Now that you know something about the layout of my land, it's time to plant trees. The 16 bare-root trees came bundled together, with plastic wrapped around the roots to keep them moist. Tree roots should never get dry before planting.

Although the ground was plenty wet, the newly-planted trees needed to be well-watered at planting time. I filled a 55-gallon barrel with water and added a little liquid seaweed solution. That barrel is the same one we use as a maple sap collection tank when making backyard maple syrup. And it was also used when I made one of Steve Lonsky's amazing siphon-tube rain-barrel systems, as I explain in my soon-to-be-published Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners.

Planting the trees was a fairly slow process (since I was doing it alone) but I wasn't in any hurry. I backfilled each hole, putting the topsoil in the bottom, around the tree roots. I made a point of carefuly spreading the tree roots out, as the picture above shows (click to enlarge). The graft union at the base of the tree needs to be around 4" above the soil line and I was cognizant of that as I planted each tree.

The steady west wind eventually blew in a shower of little ice pellets, followed by steady rain. I kept working until the rain soaked through to my shoulders. I had 12 trees planted by then. I left Leland and 12A in the field and walked home through the woods.

Our stream in the springtime.
The picture above shows where I usually cross the stream. My home is in the distance.

I went to bed that night envisioning a herd of deer eating my just-planted trees down to stubs. I understand that deer love young apple trees and can be quite a pest. So I was up the next day, anxious to get the rest of the trees planted, then fenced.

The fencing I used is 2" x 4" welded wire and 5 ft. high. I bought 4 rolls for $49.99 each, and put a 12 ft ft. length of wire around each tree. To support the fence, I drove in two 7-ft. T-posts. The posts cost me $6.29 each. Total, with sales tax, for the fence and posts: $433.34.

I don't think a 12 ft. length of fencing will keep deer away once the tree "whips" start making branches. So next year I'll probably have to buy 4 more rolls of fencing and 32 more T-posts. 

If this orchard was much bigger I'd have to start an Indiegogo campaign to finance it. And I could send apples to those who donated... maybe ten years from now.

I also need to add in the stakes I put next to each little tree. After watching This knowledgeable chap from the UK explain how to plant apple trees, I felt like I needed to stake them (and I think the Cummins Nursery how-to information recommended the same thing). I used 1" galvanized electrical conduit for the stakes. Ten-foot lengths of the conduit cost $6.77 each and 8 lengths would give me the 16 stakes I needed. Total cost, with tax, $58.49 ($3.66 a stake). 

I also purchased 50 ft. of yellow poly rope ($7.00) to tie the trees to the stakes (using the little trick explained in the abovementioned video). 

And I bought a 50 lb. bag of organic phosphorus (0-3-0) fertilizer at the local fed store. Michael Phillips, my apple tree growing mentor, recommends that one pound of phosphorus fertilizer be added to each tree's planting hole. The 50 lb. bag was $26. The extra fertilizer will keep.

So now the trees are planted and protected. I need to pick up all the rocks I unearthed and add them to the piles along the woods, like those who worked the land before me have done for over 100 years.



Birth of an Orchard
Part 1
Getting Started

Dateline: 19 April 2013

A traditional orchard is the orchard of my dreams. (photo link)

I’ve dreamed of having an apple orchard since I was a teenager. Since back in the day— back when Me & Ed Made Apple Cider in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (that was a long time ago). And now, with the recent acquisition of a section of decent New York state farm land, I’ve decided to direct some effort into making my dream come true.

If I had the land and the money to plant an orchard way back then, I would know a lot about growing apple trees by now. When you start early to learn something like that, and you stick with it, you acquire a lot of useful knowledge by the time you become an old-timer like me.

But I didn’t do that and, as a result, I’m pretty ignorant about what it takes to grow apple trees. I’m also a little bit fearful. Maybe a lot. It’s a fear of failure that I have. When I read my apple-tree-growing books, it appears to me that apple trees are prone to all kinds of insect attack and diseases. That’s a real bummer. And then there is the matter of pruning. I’m intimidated by pruning.

A lot of people never undertake to do anything of significance because they think they may fail. I’ve confronted and surmounted that obstacle many times in my life. And sometimes I did, indeed, fail at what I attempted. But there have also been successes. That’s the way it goes. You win some and you lose some. But you never win at anything unless you motivate yourself and give it your best shot. That there’s a little pep talk for me.

I think, when you decide to do something you've never done before, something that is new to you, and seemingly difficult, that it helps to tell someone what you’re going to do, like I’m doing here. Then you'll feel more compelled to follow through with your undertaking. 

So that explains why I've decided to chronicle my apple orchard adventure here, with periodic installments. 

Apple orchards take years to grow, which means that establishing a homestead orchard is a very contra-industrial thing to do, especially with heirloom apples on B.118 rootstock (more about this shortly). There is no instant gratification in this endeavor! It’ll be a lot of years before I ever see an apple.

Fact is, I may never live to see an apple. But I’ll tell the story here, for as long as I can....

Buying The Trees

That there is 16 bare-root fruit trees. Purchase price: $357.79

They say the first step to embarking on a new endeavor is the hardest, but I don’t know if that is necessarily true. It was relatively easy last fall to send a check to Cummins Nursery in Trumansburg, New York, not far from where I live, to pre-pay for 13 apple trees (and three pear trees). 

I don’t want a big commercial orchard, mind you. A small, homestead orchard would be nice—a family orchard. And I don’t want any of those modern dwarf trees. I’d like my homestead dream-orchard to be composed of bigger, old-timey-sized apple trees. I also want some of the trees to be heirloom varieties.

So I ordered:

2 @ Ashmead’s Kernel
2 @ Black Oxford
2 @ Enterprise
2 @ Golden Russet
1 @ Honeycrisp
1 @ Newtown Pippin
1 @ Spitzenburg Esopus
1 @ Wolf River
1 @ Bartlett pear
2 @ Bosc pear

The apple trees are all grafted to B.118 rootstock. Budagovsky 118, that is. B.118 root stock “produces a tree 80-90 percent of standard size. Well-anchored, precocious, good productivity... Winter hardiness goes without saying for this Russian immigrant.” That quote comes from The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way, by Michael Phillips—my main guidebook to growing apple trees. 

In his book, Phillips says that the larger-size apple trees (like those on B.118 rootstock) have a more extensive root system and are better anchored in the ground. Once established, they do not require regular irrigation and a lot of “medicinal support of fungicides.” In other words, they’re less fuss to care for, more self-sufficient, and therefore better suited to growing holistically. All of that sounds real good to me. Here's a YouTube clip of Michael Phillips explaining what it means to be a holistic orchardist...

With sales tax, the total for the 13 trees came to $357.79. I went and picked them up. If they were shipped to me they would have cost more.

I’m going to include prices of the different things I buy here. I think that is an important part of the story. So I must include The Holistic Orchard book ($31.49) and Michael Phillips’ other book, The Apple Grower ($27.84). Before long, I expect I’ll also cough up another $40 to get Phillips' 5-hour Holistic Orcharding DVD (ClickHere for details). That’ll be a few cents short of a hundred bucks invested in my apple growing edumakation. A small price to pay...if it eventually bears good good fruit.

Newtown Pippins. Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple. My mouth is watering at the thought of fresh-squeezed cider, made with my own Newtown Pippins. (photo link)