Winter Planning, Spring work
Apr/27/2016 07:52 AM
Time has flown since apple season ended with our last post in this blog. We are so grateful for the seasonality of farming; we could not keep up the pace without shifts in work intensity and type over time.
Winter is our time for assessing how the season went, and planning for the future. It is also for some healing down time. And of course, it is when our cider ferments, when we do tasting and science to determine which blends we will put together, and how much of each variety of hard cider to make. We ended up bottling the Farmhouse cider in the middle of February, and the Hopped, Cyser, and some New England in April, so we will have all four varieties available when we open our tasting room May 14.
This mild, el Nino winter carried with it some concerns about the trees not hardening off, or waking too early in the spring, but so far, it appears the weather has not been catastrophic for our apple crop. There were some scares, of course; what is farming without worrying about the weather? We had a low of -18F in mid-February, which may be the reason we have no peach blossoms this spring. And then we had a mid-teens low after the trees started waking in the spring; we are still waiting to see how that will affect apple blossoms, though it appears it didn't wipe them out completely. Meanwhile, we had plenty of snow-free days to prune the orchard, and a long stretch of good weather in which we planted several hundred new trees, both replacing ailing trees in the existing orchard block and expanding our plantings. We received a grant from the Grinspoon foundation last year to put in a dwarf tree, trellis planting that is in place as of this fall. This is an experiment, to see how dwarf cider trees do in our low input, minimally managed orchard. Let the science begin!
We are in the calm between storms at this moment, when the trees are planted and mulched, we just got a good rain, it is not quite time to start spraying for pests and diseases, and it is still the off season for our hard cider tasting room. That all ends very soon, since we have an open house May 14 from 1-5 to celebrate the release of this year's ciders, and to kick off our tasting room season. The tasting room will be open from 1-5 every Saturday all summer, so folks can count on us being here if you want to stop by and get some cider. Last year the orchard was in full bloom on May 14, so it could be a spectacular day to come visit. Nothing beats walking through the orchard full of apple blossom perfume, listening to bees buzz around enjoying the flowers.