Agriculture

The Roots of Affordable Organic Apple Growing

Today, two years preparation came to fruition. Here are some experimental apple rootstocks that I selected last fall from 16 multi-species apple trees, in the hope of finding a free-standing dwarfing apple rootstock with good vigour and free from the host of problems plaguing current dwarfing offerings. Today I harvested them and planted them out. Sound a bit obscure? Not really. If this works, we will be able to plant an organic orchard better able to handle heat, cold and insects, longer-lived in the field, and without the use of copper-treated posts or endless amounts of wire. In other words, these little rooted sticks might just lead to the survival of apple-growing in the Okanagan Valley, twenty years out, and healthier apples and healthier farmers at that. The image below shows the most dwarfing of my selections. It roots very, very well.

The next, shows the most regular. Ah, but will it induce workable branching, or will this tree grow straight up. That wouldn’t really be a problem for upright varieties like Ambrosia, and it sure wouldn’t be a problem for ultra-high-density apples, where a single vertical stalk is the goal. Who knows, eh.

One of the trees is even the wonderful baking apple, the Belle de Boskoop, which I coaxed into growing on its own roots. I hope to perfect the technique, so we can grow apple trees without grafting. This is a kind of holy grail of playing with this ancient fruit, and like all holy grails it’s elusive. Still, we have one tree now! Extending this technique might bring the price of trees down to truly affordable levels. Well, we can only try. The Boskoop won’t be a dwarf, though. But that’s a challenge for another day. Until then, many thanks to Joe for supporting this experiment. Blessed be.

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