locavor

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#Edible Forest Gardening 101: Plant a Mini-Orchard, with Columnar and Cordon Trees

My partner’s aunt is something of a horticultural guru in my life, and one maxim she seems to live by is: “a tree only gets as large as you allow it to.”

I am something of a plant hoarder myself, and because I believe preserving biodiversity in the food system is extremely important, I find myself more inclined to want 10 small but different tree cultivars (or a tree grafted with 40 cultivars) than a single large tree.

Training trees to grow in a compact form, such as a columnar or cordon tree, is a way to pack a huge amount of species diversity into a small space. These forms of tree maintenance are suitable for species and cultivars that fruit on what are called “spurs.”

Spurs are short, stocky shoots with shortened internodes, which is the space between two nodes; nodes are the part of a stem where leaves, and sometimes flowers, are attached. They form on shoots that are two years of age or older and can be branched or unbranched. Both flowers and fruit can form on spurs.

- What is a Fruit Spur?

It takes a little bit of practice, and quite a few visual references, but fruit spurs are easy to identify once you know what you are looking for.

External image

Viron, on The Home Orchard Society

This form of maintenance is best for certain cultivars of apples and pears, so research and observation is needed before choosing the right trees. Some cultivars can even be persuaded to fruit in pots when pruned properly, so a mini-orchard is even possible for an apartment gardener with a balcony.

In any case, when done right, it is a dense, attractive, and productive mode of cultivation. Species and cultivars can be chosen to cascade across a wide range of flowering and ripening times: an early-ripening ‘Clapp’s Favourite’ Pear, can be planted alongside a mid-season 'Brandy,’ and a late-season 'Bosc,’ so that pears are available over a period of months, instead of a period of weeks.

I use this high-diversity strategy with my blueberries and strawberries as well, so I have three months of harvest from the former, and five of the latter. It entails a bit of work in keeping plants artificially small, but the consistent, small harvests are much more practical than one-time, large harvests. I don’t worry about canning and preserving, so much as going out in the garden and finding something ripe for the picking.

Read more: Controlling Apple Tree Size by Horticultural Means

Related: Of Pears and Espaliers; Living Fences

Images: Pomona Fruits; htterina; The Meaning of the Columnar Apple Tree System (CATS) for the Market in Future by Helmut B. Jacob, The Geisenheim Research Institute, Department of Pomology

#pruning #fruit trees #forest gardening #edible landscaping 
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Grazin’ Diner in Hudson, NY

We were in love with this place from the first moment we saw it—the building is a classic piece of 1940s Americana, complete with a chrome exterior, leather barstools, an old-fashioned soda fountain, and a jukebox. But the food is anything but old fashioned. After snagging the place at an auction, the owner, Chip, completed revitalized it to create a farm-to-table restaurant—a combination of old-school setting and new-school eco-awareness that’s a growing trend in the region.

As Chip shows us around, he explains that most of their food—the burgers, the fries, and even the soda—is made from scratch, in house. The soda syrup, in cola, birch beer, root beer, and cream flavors, is made by Chip himself. The beef comes straight from Grazin’ Angus Acres, a farm about 20 minutes northwest, in Ghent. And we watch as the potatoes are peeled, cut, and fried right before our eyes.

The result is a meal that Chip calls “everything that is diner porn,” and we have to agree. The “Uncle Dude” is the best burger we’ve had yet, topped with jalapeño relish, chipotle mayo, local cheddar, greens, and bacon (if that doesn’t get you salivating, we don’t know what will). The fries are crispy. The birch beer is bubbly and refreshing. And the friendly staff and big, sunny windows overlooking the bustle of downtown Hudson certainly don’t hurt. Old-school-meets-new-school gets another A+.

Every springtime in the lovely Alsace region of France, people stand in blossoming pear orchards, sliding glass bottles over tender young pears. The workers fasten the bottles securely to nearby branches, and then wait a few months for each tiny pear to grow and ripen in its own little glass greenhouse.

This is the astonishing, age-old tradition first invented in Alsace in the 1700s and known as eau de vie de poire, or pear water of life.

Lately, pear-in-the bottle brandy has made a comeback in America — a kind of artful flourish from the fast-growing sector of locavore, craft brandies. In keeping with the farm-to-table movement, dozens of distilleries in the U.S. are now crafting dry, fragrant spirits from other mashed and fermented fruits, too — like cherries, pears, plums, raspberries, apples and peaches — sourced from local orchards.

Clear Fruit Brandies Pack An Orchard Into A Bottle

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Westford Hill Distillers

WHAT? IT WAS JUMPING OUT OF THE WATER! THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF THEM!

I KNOW. THAT’S THE PROBLEM. IT’S EXACTLY WHAT BIG NATURE WANTS. A BUNCH OF MINDLESS LOCAVORES. SLAVES TO CONVENIENCE. “HERE, HAVE THIS FAT, FORGETTABLE TROUT AT THE PEAK OF ITS FRESHNESS FROM RIGHT IN YOUR BACKYARD." 

IS THAT BAD?

YES! SEASONAL FOOD WITH NO DECOMPOSITION, NO FLAVOR. IT’S A SCAM! FOOD SHOULD BE EXOTIC AND SLIGHTLY ROTTEN. DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN! HAVE YOU EVER HAD LITTLE MICE FROM UNDER THE ROCKS IN THE MOUNTAIN RANGE OUT WEST? ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO CATCH! AMAZING TERROIR! LAST MONTH AT WORK BILL BROUGHT IN A LIZARD HE GOT FROM SOMEPLACE IN THE SOUTH THAT DOESN’T EVEN HAVE WATER. DEAD FOR OVER A WEEK. IT WAS DELICIOUS! QUIT GRABBING WHATEVER’S IN THE RIVER AND START THINKING FOR YOURSELF.

The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71)

Though her Beverly Hills neighbors were left nonplussed, Granny Moses (Irene Ryan), the beloved matriarch of the Clampett clan, was way ahead of today’s 100-mile diet trend. Her boiled buzzard, gopher gravy and possum pot pie ingredients were sourced straight from the backyard. Now that is local.

etsyfindoftheday 2 | 1.1.15

theme thursday: resolution badassery

RESOLUTION: make healthier food choices!
represented by: vegetarian healthy eating buttons by pagefiftyfive

rather than dive headfirst into 2015 with staunch, hard-lined food rules (like i’ve done in the past, with resolutions of ‘no fried food’ or '1 serving of junk food per day only’), why not give yourself a little bit of a broader goal to hit? there’s a lot of ways you can start making simple, smarter, healthier food choices each day, whether it’s by adding a veggie to your meal or choosing to buy locally or whatever. there’s so much that’s within reach! these veggie-friendly buttons could even serve as your inspiration :)