Posted on

Tree Healing : Compartmentalizing

A tree under repair does not truly heal in the classic sense of the word. The damaged tissue does not undergo the same sort of process that, for example, a human wound does. Most of the exposed tissue simply dies, that is digresses to dried xylem for the most part. This portion may even become punky and infected with decay organisms. This does not normally spell trouble for the tree. The course of action is that of compartmentalizing. This is the formation of a distinct division between sound and dead material. We liken it to a damaged ship closing off bays to prevent sinking. Callus tissue and further growth eventually will surround the wound and encase it. A later observer coming  to the site may surmise the wound had healed, but if the tree were to be cut open it would still reveal the damaged part hidden inside and clearly defined. Below is a photo from our woods which shows new growth beginning to envelop a scar in a maple tree (the wound is the gray wood in the center). If we return in a few years the wound will be invisible, hidden inside the new tissue layers of the ever expanding cambium.

wound callus and compartmentalized zone in maple
Posted on

A Nature Museum

a cabin becomes a school

This little cabin will become a tool for the edification of interested visitors. An idea of our son is to have a nature museum on the premises to showcase all things natural. Having accumulated bird nests, animal skeletons, a swelling insect collection and odd artifacts, a space to house it all seemed a logical next step. Formerly a sauna, sugarhouse, wood storage and brief cinema prop (it appeared one of Leo’s movie productions) it will now serve yet another purpose. We hope to display the wide diversity of natural life which can exist in the confines of a single farm.

Posted on

An Apple Treehouse

Leo’s Treehouse

The nearly finished retreat is nestled between the arms of a volunteer apple tree. Here is a case where one of those multi-trunked mis-behaviors is put to good use. We sawed off a couple of the trunks, which now serve as a platform for the treehouse. The branches are being trained to envelop the house, in order to  make the whole sturdier (and safer) each succeeding year. We have also been grafting  new apple varieties on the tree, a few each year so guests to the aerial digs might enjoy perhaps a different dessert out every window. Yet another example of how some good old fashioned nonsense makes life worthwhile.

Posted on

Fruit growers group

After much talk we are ready to spearhead a regional fruit growers group. We are in the early stages, so input concerning its structure from you folks would be helpful. It will be centered on both practical aspects and education, but with a strong emphasis on science. Members should be prepared to make a contribution through studies, trials and notekeeping. All are welcome, beginners or experienced.


Posted on

Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

A bit over a year ago we had the pleasure of being involved with the FTPF. Rico Montenegro, chief arborist with the group spearheaded a community orchard project with the townspeople of Waitsfield, Vt. Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design (a permaculture entity) also helped coordinate the project, and the fruit trees came from us. A video of the opening remarks of the planting day event can be viewed in the video section here on the website.

“The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is an award-winning international nonprofit charity dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water.” says the website.

Follow this link, and make a contribution if you can…

Posted on

A terraced hillside

Here is a photo of part of the farm a coupe of years back. We were re-defining some of the beds on this gently terraced hill near the home.

Is there any wonder why we are here?

We are looking here at terraced garden beds to the right, orchard beyond, and the first greenhouse. Among the plant life in the picture are apple, pear, plum, siberian pea shrub, blueberry bushes, hops vines, rugosa rose, and herb beds. But let’s not forget who made it all possible, that pretty little pile of compost sitting front and center.

Posted on

Cultivar expansion at the Farm

This past fall’s planting (2011) puts our apple diversity at over 400 varieties to date. These are little guys and will take a few years to distinguish themselves, and to show us how tough they are. The new block is a tightly planted 250 or so standards, mainly for scion production, not fruit per se, except for research purposes. Formerly wooded with 2nd growth forest, the plot was planted by hand and shovel a week after clearing on a steep, if somewhat terraced hillside. No fertilizing was done (not recommended for fall planting), trees were set, wrapped with screen guards and tethered to small posts for the duration. We will keep folks posted on their progress.

Posted on

Winter Comes Late

Finally, it seems like winter here in the Northeast Kingdom. The past two eves have dipped below -14F which is the coldest this winter, but long in coming as regards real northern temps. We are always quick to enjoy the frigid weather, but have been a bit worried about the odd events leading up this normally cool situation. Here is the complication: Until the last week or so, we had nearly no snow cover due to the wierdly mild weather this year. This of course gives little insulation for plant roots, and so there was much hoping for some of the white stuff. Luck was with folks around here and we received just under a foot last week. Here’s the point, whether or not you believe humans are messing about with the global climate (we are), it is hard to dismiss things are getting unusual out there. Those hoping for the silver linings of global warming and the visions of peach trees and sweet cherries in the north should look closer to the fine print.. The reasons for the distinction between the popular term “global warming” and the term ”global climate change” embraced by the scientific community is that of the effect. Warming, maybe, to your home town. But change, certain. This means, maybe warmer, maybe colder, definitely different. So, here in Walden this year we had one week with only 2 or 3 inches of snow (normally many feet) and we almost had 14 below in those conditions. We did have 9 below with almost no snow a few weeks back. Those who have trees and bushes that have survived for years, especially those in lower altitudes in the surrounding valleys (which characteristically have less snow) will see damage and losses. This is the sort of complications we need to understand. Most so called hardy plant roots can only sustain 20 degrees ABOVE zero in the root zone, so they need protection that snow allows them. No or little snow cover due to warmer temps spells disaster when inevitable arctic blasts swing in from Northern Canada. That so called global warming may likely mean you have to grow hardier plants, not the other way around.

Posted on

Community Orchard in Waitsfield



Comments from Walden Heights Nursery

by Flemer Green Community Orchard on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 7:37am

Todd Parlo of Walden Heights Nursery is not able to attend the event today and sent these comments to share:

“The planting of a fruit tree is an act of many parts. It means placing food on the table, that’s a given. It means providing shade for people and a home for animals, this too is obvious.  But we, too are looking to the future and creating for the present. The future in that an apple tree might live 200 years, see countless children swinging from the branches and feed thousands of people.  In choosing an heirloom tree we may ensure an already ancient part of our culture a place in the future.  The manner in which we plant, too can enrich us.  Today we are planting as a community, friends and stranger coming together in a single selfless act.  It encourages an understanding of what food means to us, how it comes about, and the efforts necessary in bringing it to fruition.  A community orchard means anopportunity for learning, for good honest work, and for sustainability andindependence in a changing world.

“I should say a bit about the fruits you will be finding in your orchard. Among these are heirlooms like the Fameuse apple and Montmorency cherry are both 400 years old and counting.  Vermont natives like Leo and Bethel apples are easy to care for and disease resistant. Selections such as Liberty and Duchess of Oldenburg.  The cultivars represent many nations, includingFrance, Russia, Canada, Italy, and many states from our own shores.  Represented are both creamy and crunchy pears, apples for ciders, baking and fresh eating and cherries for pies, jellies, juice or just popping on your mouth. The fruits will ripen from July right into the snows of November.  The trees are nearly all of classic size and will be long lived giants, bringing thousands of bushels of fruit for a century or more.

“I feel privileged to be associated with this project and will be happy to lend my guidance when the community needs help.   Thanks should be extended not only to the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and its sponsors, but to the organizers in the community who first saw the opportunity and acted upon it.  Thanks to should be given to each other for supporting such an undertaking. The real success here will come, not from gifts or guidance from others so much as will the work and commitment of YOU, members of the community, in years to come.  It is work to maintain a living entity, like an orchard, for year after year. But by working together you may supplant the mundane with something truly outstanding for yourselves and many generations to come.   Good luck to you.”

Posted on

Walden Heights Nursery…"Captain’s Log"

That delightful bed of strawberries is now buried beneath a foot or so of new snow, which they are happy about after temps slumped to 8 below this week. The weather heralds a long deserved respite after a looong season. This leaves 2 months of research until grafting and pruning begins again in Feb. Look to the research page for lots of activity this winter. Happy holidays, and be good to each other.