Apple Cider pressing Festival September 9

$25. We will be set up for tasting of 20+ apples, making and serving cider and other food products from the farm.

Apples at Skipley Farm are beginning to yield with a precocity that rivals any standard.

With 4500 lineal feet of trellised apples in a block of apples growing 80 varieties on Budagosky-9 rootstock (dwarf to 10 feet) and about 2 pounds per running foot of apples, there are 20,000 pounds of fruit to be experienced. Wettish year, clay-loam soil, 1st Kaolin Clay spray (‘Surround’) was delivered July 16th for apple maggot;<1% coddling moth at this point-next gen to be interrupted with clay, possibly. Kaolin is a silica-based finely ground clay that inhibits insect activity up-to 95% when applied consistently. Compost teas (Nettles, Comfrey, Horsetail, provides the silica component, and penetrant supplied by garlic according to Michael Phillips, author of Holistic Orcharding

Plant Sale 25% to Thumbnail Theatre

October 20th 11 to 6: Big blueberry bushes-little guys too, raspberry, kiwi, apple and pear trees, grape vines, ornamentals too. Free classes all day, top of each hour: 11am-edible garden design, 1pm-drip irrigation, 2pm-pruning, 3pm-diseases and insects, 4pm-fruit choices, 5pm-fruit tasting, cheese, apples, crackers and cider.

Estimated Fruit Schedule

June 27-July 14: Currants, Gooseberry, Raspberry-

July 4-21: Cherry

July 11 to Aug. 4: Blueberry

July 18-September:Blackberry

July 25-Nov. 3: Apples begin with Lodi, Gravenstein, William’s Pride, Redfree

August 22-October 27:Grapes begin with Interlaken, then Jupiter, Reliance, Einset

Bench Grafted Apple Trees

“Bench Grafts”: the term used when propagating at-the-bench versus in-the-field. It’s usually a warm dry environment, and practiced in the ‘off-season’. When I can, I get started in January but I typically don’t because the rootstock-that what I graft to-is not available until March, so I find myself squeezing in the last window of time-up through June-with all the other spring activities. “Grafting” is the main way to reproduce fruit trees. Fun and easy after a few trials; With everything layed out I can finish grafting a tree each minute, but after handling and caring for a few weeks that production rate bottoms out. Producing a hundred trees every day is enough sitting for me.

Why, why, why? so many apples? flavorful, disease resistant, heirlooms, “mini dwarf”, ‘dwarf”, “semidwarf”,”standard” The rootstock is what makes the ultimate height. Mini’s are maybe up to 8 feet, Dwarf to 12 or 14′, Semi dwarf can reach 25 feet, Standards to 40-45′. Why? Root area underground. Big trees have big roots, little, little. Dwarfs fall over when loaded with apples, thus trellising- they also need more attention to water and food-good soil management. Semidwarf and standards are more forgiving, you can be careless almost and in Western Washington they will be dwarf and drought tolerant. So plant a “big root” tree and walk away! Maybe as close as 8 feet. If you are limited in space and you like variety as much as I, use ‘mini’s’ or ‘dwarf’ and plant 1-2 feet apart, or, 2 or 3(or 5) in the same hole like a multi-variety tree but easier to manage because of imbalanced vigors if all on one tree.

I have now about 250 varieties of apples, so many flavors, textures, aromas, keeping, cooking, juicing, buttering (apple butter), and eaters. My favorites are the “easy-to-growers” and the” keepers”. Goldrush, Keepsake, Suncrisp, Fiesta, Wynoochee Early, Enterprise. But there are more aren’t there? Earlies have the aroma like no other. William’s Pride, Liberty, Pristine, Sansa, Gravenstein, Zestar!, Yellow Transparent, Akane. plant them 1 foot apart train-tie them to each other, they will stand on their own if there is a curve in the arrangement. We are doing just hat with spirals at our new “country apples orchard”, 80 foot spirals, festooned to each other, a weaving technique. i’m counting on them standing up without support of expensive steel trellising. we’ll see.Apple Espalier

Blueberry plants

We’re reliquishing 160 -5 year old plants out into the community. Potted, productive( we make pies from nursery plants, yes they,re producing). In comes new inventory: 1 gallon and 2 gallon plants add Peat, Bark, a little sand, water, a handful of cottonseed meal, you are on your way!

shoo away the birds (net-and we sell bird and insect net) and you’ve got crop; consider soil, fertility. After 10 years growth expect 15 pounds of blueberries per plant.

Sale $25 to$65

Garden Design Class

Can you imagine a walled garden?The story ‘The Secret Garden’ shed light on the peace, sanctuary and romance within the confines of such a glorious planting – where one can communicate with the wildlings. As a child this story stirred a wonder within me.

50 years hence, I recreate this paradise feigned for in my mind, on vellum again and again setting the scene to the three dimensional canvas of the earth, mirroring natural systems, constructing the eden sought. Elementary is shelter, food, security, rest, fire, water, and friendship to share the gift of creation.

The third Saturday March 16th, April 20th, May 18th at 10AM Skipley Farm will reveal the world of garden design for abundance and a place to set the bench for contemplation, verse and story with music and dance the result. Enroll in a paradigm of antiquity when gardens provided victoriously. The fruits in this cornucopia are tried, true and real, our painting is here. Ten thousand have plucked from our vines immersed in this succulence. We wish this upon your own land parcel, field or allotment.

Bring plans of plot, measurements, soil, photos, all you know to tease the rudiments of intelligent design because we will!

$42 suggested donation

Plants available to initiate yield.

Winter light, planning.

I live this time in reflection. Misty dampish, 40’s air. Reading, writing, consumed with defining purpose. Plant Gil, plant! – I recall my good friend saying repeatedly. I deliberate within design parameters. I deliberate for the rare 5 days needed to shovel a hole without the earth suction planting my tool instead. 100 new apple varieties to map, and plant. Planning the orchard with test fruit is deliberate/designed for> alphabetical, numerical, ripening period, disease prone, tree size, use (cider, fresh, pie), rootstock type…hmmm. It is particularly daunting. I like having to deliberate. Answers keep surfacing. Reflecting on orchard design. If there was only a dozen varieties, no problem. The orchard with 4000 varieties (e.g. Botner) is understandably challenged. In that case I’d be alphabetical… only if planted all at once! because adding more trees later presents a new problem? How? assigned numbers; lettered rows; leaving gaps for the final collection? hmm. Still in pause-mode.


Share a review. Read the reviews. The ever-changing farm. Here’s the negative: no small-wheeled strollers, a worm in EVERY apple, old trucks, tractors, implements, farm materials, empty (or full) bottle of whiskey, bare back young men in the nursery, barbed wire in the farmyard, small-backyard-like, temperamental farmers. So beware. Oh, and traffic, it’s becoming too popular. So pass this on. Inordinary is us.

The positive. We will need to become exclusive, with membership or tickets. Our diversity, quality, flavors are off the charts.

So be nice. Membership is finite.

When apples go bad…

Apples with Penicillin-a Patulin producing mold

This is unfortunate.

Orchards vary in their management of “drops” or “windfall”. Most orchard apples fall from high up so when they drop, they bruise by hitting bare ground, ground cleared and killed by herbicides, primarily ‘Roundup’/Glyphosate. Problem #1-bruised apples with residual glyphosate. When apples fall they often ‘dent’ where the skin is intact without tearing. Ok …but only if they don’t contact animal poop (thats not been composted for 3 months) down on that ground where E-coli becomes a problem. Patulin and E-coli have been on the Radar of all orchardists due to a few instances of poop, rot and fruit. The e-coli comes from contact with fresh feces including Rodents, Cow, horse, chicken, goat, human, you name it. Eating poop is not recommended for humans (although I here cow dung is loaded with B12). Insect frass/poop is not framed as E-coli contaminated.

Food safety news about field contamination of apples reiterate from one research group in Illinois on the footsteps of a cow dung infused Apple farm that caused 10 people to get sick. The scare is on for a decade now. There is more chance of contracting E-coli from a hand picked apple, especially by a child, with fingers previously …. here’s why:

Orchards with small, low trees, with no farm animals pooping in the fields, with rodents like rabbits and mice not piling their poop under the trees, on top of the plants where apples may drop, the risk of apples being contaminated drops off dramatically. Falling short heights into and onto soft grass or onto the perfect plant guild that nestles and surrounds the fruit with the chill and dew of evening air, ripening the apple over days, sometimes weeks in the most perfect environment… E-coli contaminated fruit drops to one in a million.

No problem if falling into clean plants and soft grass.

Now bruised apples with a tear open to the flesh inside most certainly will be visited by the spores of 2 or 3 fungi that can cause a potent toxin, Patulin, also cited as a homeopathic- found to fight cancer as well as potentially cause cancer. The photo above is a blue mold that causes the potent Patulin.

Would you or you child eat this? An indiscriminate orchardist could rake it up for cider pressing.

It take several days for this mold to establish. You can see it. Unbroken apples sometimes achieve mold production at the end of their edible life and sometimes in cold storage ahead of their lifespan where conditions of moisture and temperature can create spore germination-fungicides are used to intervene here.

If you want the perfect crisp Apple, you will find it in the grass, nestled, out of direct sun, still cool at the end of the day, breathing with the fluctuating night-day temperature shift, kissed with evening dew at dew-point, moist cool air, drying by day but still cool. No fungus! Look for mouse or rabbit poop, should you find it don’t eat it. There is a slim chance a fruit is nestled in a pile of poop. You the apple you-picker, orchardist, can see this. Like Apple cores in the field pick these up, toss them to the field shoulder or put them in a trash bucket. Germs are everywhere!

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