Don’t let anyone ever tell you farming isn’t a year-round job. It most definitely is. Even when it isn’t harvest season, there are still planning sessions and a slew of tasks vital to making the rest of the year run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This is especially true at North Star Orchard! There were plenty of things to occupy us over winter as we excitedly prepare for the opening of our farm store.
That said, it now feels as though we can officially proclaim the start of the season! Hopefully, we can put those nasty late winter storms behind us and get on with spring. Our orchard weathered the cold months and the freshly pruned trees are finally enjoying some warmer days with open blossoms.
Tree pruning is one of those tasks that starts during what many would call the “off-season,” when the trees are dormant. We’ve got quite a lot of trees to prune in the orchard, so the earlier we start the better. It’s not uncommon to see Farmer Ike out in the orchard pruning while there’s still some snow on the ground. Pruning is necessary in order to invigorate the buds on the trees and ultimately yield the delicious NSO fruit we all love! Finishing up tree pruning is usually a good indicator that the season is about to get a lot busier.
Apple tree grafting is another activity that can signify the start of NSO’s season. Did you know that merely planting apple seeds won’t produce fruit identical to the apple they came from? That’s where grafting comes in, to ensure consistency and maintain the desired characteristics of the trees, like disease resistance or fruit quality.
The actual process and science of grafting is quite fascinating, and worthy of it’s own blog post. In the simplest of terms, it involves joining a piece of growth with buds from a “parent” tree, called scion wood, to the rootstock of another tree. The respective pieces of wood are bound together and will heal to form a new tree, capable of producing fruit identical to its parent tree. Grafting is typically done in the early spring, when the buds on the scion wood are still dormant. It’s a perfect project for those cold rainy days we’ve been getting on the farm.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of the season getting fully underway is the return of familiar farmer faces, and the welcoming of new farm helpers. All of us at NSO are happy to be back on the farm pruning, grafting, sowing seeds in the greenhouse, and prepping the fields in the vegetable garden.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of NSO’s beginning! We hope to celebrate that milestone all season with our dedicated and enthusiastic customers and friends, as well as those new to NSO. There’s much to look forward to this summer and fall. As previously mentioned, we’ll be opening a farm store in July offering our own brand of fresh produce as well as other locally sourced products.
We'll also have tastings, workshops & tours, and cooking classes, plus activities for the kids too! So sign up for our email list to get our latest news and come join us for all that we have in store, it’s shaping up to be a great season!