North American Fruit Explorers, Organic Agriculture, Orchard Sanitation, and Other Seasonal Gardening Tips

This installment of a regular feature looks at the joining the North American Fruit Explorers, a favorable USDA report on organic agriculture, and recommendations on orchard sanitation.

| November/December 1980

  • 066 Orchard Sanitation
    Orchard sanitation — cleaning away windfall fruit, fallen leaves, and pruned branches — is one of the most important things you need to attend to after your apple or other fruit harvest is in.

  • 066 Orchard Sanitation

It's late autumn in the garden ... sere leaves drift from sleeping trees, soldiers of stubble mark harvested rows of corn, Winesaps ripen and fall, and — while warm afternoons occasionally stir memories of summer's heat — the morning's white rime heralds winter's chill kingdom. Draw close to your loved ones, and offer thanks together for the bounty you've stored.

Fruit Explorers

One of the biggest bargains in horticulture — and one that makes a dandy Christmas gift as well — is a five-dollar membership in the North American Fruit Explorers. NAFEX is dedicated to the exchange of information — through its quarterly journal, Pomona — on growing both rare and common fruits, from blueberries to papayas, peaches, and persimmons. The society also has panels of folks who are experts on many varieties of fruit, cultural topics, and techniques. NAFEX members can draw upon this wisdom and experience for just the price of a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

USDA Discovers Organic Agriculture

It's almost enough to make a believer out of a cynic! First we saw the government supporting Integrated Pest Management. Now — even more surprising — the Department of Agriculture has released a report on organic agriculture ... and the agency's conclusions highly favor wholistic techniques!

"Organic farming," as defined by the USDA, "is a production system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic farming systems rely on crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, mineral-bearing rocks, and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients, and to control insects, weeds, and other pests."

Using this definition in their selection process, the authors of the report visited 69 organic farms in 23 states, studied similar operations in Europe and Japan, interviewed organic farmers and "movement" spokespeople, and so forth.

The investigators reported that the organic farms, while somewhat more labor-intensive than conventional operations, used less energy ... and — although conventional farms provided a greater economic return over variable costs than organic ones did — when the expense of the detrimental aspects of chemical-intensive farming were included in the equation, the economic advantage of conventional agriculture was reduced significantly .

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