Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fruit Tree Workshop

Thanks to those who braved the rain two weekends ago, and attended our fruit tree workshop.  We started outdoors, but with the heavy cold rain decided to move inside for the second part of the session.  As this resulted in our group spontaneously sitting around our large dining room table, drinking tea to warm up, we had a much more relaxed conversational workshop atmosphere where participants could ask loads of questions about their own fruit trees (as well as berries and grapes, which everyone seemed very eager to learn more about, as we all seem to be trying to grow the whole gamut of what is possible in this climate).

Our facilitator had brought a wide selection of fruit trees - including apple, cherry, kiwi, lime, pomegranate, fig, pineapple guava - and talked about organic methods for helping fruit trees flourish, such as attracting pollinators, planting herbs below the fruit trees (e.g. chives, onions, lavender, garlic, thyme, dill, fennel), planting cover crops such as vetch and clover to help fix nitrogen, proper careful pruning, spraying basics (like horsetail tea, garlic, and seaweed, or neem oil sprays for certian diseases), and then emphasized that prevention is of course the best way to maintain a healthy tree.  The favourite fruits our facilitator likes to grow in this zone are pawpaw, asian pears (disease resistant, prolific fruiting, and long shelf life of fruit); berries (especially elderberries, current and blueberries); and sour cherries.  She also talked about pruning, grafting, and starting trees from cuttings and seed.

She also recommended a nursery near Montreal called Green Barn Nursery, whose focus is to sell "functional trees" with at least one food or environmental use, and who also offer workshops on urban farming and tree crops. 

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