Winter Apple Orchard
Without fail each winter, we often get asked, “What do you do all winter?”
Early winter is always consumed with putting things away, fixing things that broke during apple season, putting up firewood for the Appleshed woodstove and the house fireplace, and recovering from the long string of 15 hour days that are a part of any apple orchard in the fall.  Now that we are in the dead of winter, we shift gears a bit and go to school.
First up is the Minnesota Apple Growers Association annual conference.  It’s a chance for Sam and I to meet with other growers from across the state, compare notes and learn from educators from Minnesota and other apple growing regions of the country.  Next is the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association conference. I especially focus on strawberry growing at this conference.
This year our son, Sam will be attending the MOSES conference later in
February.  It’s the largest organic and sustainable agriculture conference in the Midwest.  This should be a good fit for his Food Systems Major from the University of Minnesota.  Our goal is to learn of new technologies, varieties, regulations and any other things that will help us offer the most nutritious fruit and an excellent experience to our customers.  One of the things I enjoy after the conferences is to put together orders for pumpkin seeds, strawberry plants, apple trees and rootstock.
Just around the corner in February is the start of pruning.  Every tree needs to be pruned every year to help ensure good air and light penetration.  If you drive by the orchard during February and March chances are you will find us out pruning with wild abandon.  Actually, we have very specific pruning strategies for each of our tree blocks.  We always hope for moderate snow depth and temperatures as you can well imagine.  Hopefully things will work out this year so we can actually do a little ice fishing after work.