Farm Focus: Feeding the Apricot Trees
At Frog Hollow, we have a strong commitment to eliminating waste. Our farm kitchen and fruit drying yard transform thousands of pounds of fruit which are too damaged to eat of hand into delicious conserves and fruit-filled pastries, cakes, and cookies.
There are a lot of other "waste" products that get converted to food too...food for our soil in the form of compost! We utilize all of the orchard "residues" to make compost. This includes wood from prunings and thinnings. Fruit too damaged for kitchen use goes to compost as well as all the fruit residues (peels, juices, pits, etc) from the kitchen products. Even our CSA boxes, once they've met the end of their use, are shredded to feed our piles.
Christophe Kreiss, the molecular biologist who manages our compost pile, measures temperatures, and moisture content multiple times a week. Once a pile is ready, we have plenty of soil to feed! Compost is the foundation of our soil fertility program and we apply about 3 tons annually.
This week, Humberto, our tractor driver, is busy feeding the apricot trees. He loads compost from the pile into a compost spreader that is attached to the back of the tractor. The tractor drives down the middle of the row while the spreader spins out dry compost onto the root zone of the trees. (see the video on our blog this week)
In the summer we will follow compost application with irrigation to help the microbes in the compost migrate into the soil. Those microbes facilitate the movement of minerals in the soil to the roots. Famer Al, calls these microbes, "the waiters".
We've concluded our apricot harvest for 2018. Now that there is no more fruit hanging to get dusty with an application, we are spreading compost. Though this seasons harvest is done, these trees aren't going on vacation. They are already starting to do the work of manufacturing fruit buds for the 2019 season. Inoculating the soil with compost now will provide them with the nutrients they need to grow fruit for next year. Let's hope next spring's weather will be let us reap the fruit of our labor.