The apple orchard at Big Creek Homestead is one of its main attractions - for humans, and many other species. The trees in this orchard were ancient and long-neglected when we arrived here 30 years ago. Coming from a family of apple growers, I naturally took on the rejuvenation of the old orchard. Apples need to be pruned annually to maintain vigor and productivity. Easier said than done! Each year, it takes me an equivalent of at least two weeks of labor to do a decent job on the Big Creek orchard. (Email me for guidelines if how to do it really interests you). After the pruning is done, the brush is burned to reduce pests and diseases, and the bigger cuttings are saved for smoking and grilling foods. The season for pruning apples overlaps with maple sugaring season and mushroom inoculation season. So depending on the weather and other commitments, these activities complement or compete with each other. Anyway it turns out, early spring is a great time of year to be outdoors seeing who’s flying over and getting ready for the growing season. You could say that more than the orchard gets rejuvenated. Reminder: Hover over photos to see titles and captions.
Pruning PlatformFront-end loader makes a handy platform for pruning tall apple trees.
Pruning LaddersA selection of ladders, including a tripod-like orchard ladder is needed for managing old, standard-size, apple trees.
Burning Orchard PruningsApple prunings are burned to sanitize the oorchard against pests and diseases.
Orchard Cleansing BurnPeriodically burning the ground litter & vegetation in orchards is another form of rejuvenation.