AppleLuscious Organic Farm
2005 Newsletter

Please welcome Captain Apple, a new south-end super hero, who spontaneously appeared in Apple Luscious Organic Orchard this past summer.  He informed me recently that he likes it so much there, that he is going to stay.

His main goal is to get children excited about eating organic apples and eating more organic fruit and vegetables of all kinds. Captain Apple has a few secret strategies.  He knows that Salt Spring is an ideal base for him since over 350 varieties of apples are grown organically there.  He knows that most kids love eating tasty apples and that they cannot resist the incredible red-fleshed apples grown at Apple Luscious Organic Orchard.


Captain Apple

Apple Luscious Organic Orchard over the years has gradually become a model of diversity, a trial orchard demonstrating how varieties grow in our mediteranean climate with extremes of weather;
• wet in winter,
• hot and dry during summer days
• cool and damp in summer evenings.

Our orchard is certified organic (IOPA # 902) and is a beautiful, peaceful place to visit.  Our trees are healthy and we are delighted with the quality and taste of our apples.

Species

Number of Varieties Grown

Apples

over 200

Plums

3

Asian Pears

11

Apricots

2

Plumcots

8

Blueberries

10

Grapes

15

Roses

over 100 (many fragrant)

Variety Details

We are growing:

  1. Over 200 varieties of great tasting apples including 23 red-fleshed apple varieties.

  2. 8 new plumcots varieties (plum-apricot crosses).  Not sure how they will grow here, but it is sure an exciting experiment.  As of March 2006, there are blossoms on half the varieties, so we might get to taste them this season.  The flavour of these are supposed to be fantastic. On Salt Spring, only one or 2 varieties of apricots grow well. .  Our cool, damp nights even in summer are not very good for peaches, so that all peaches must be grown under cover.   So I figured that plumcots might combine the hardiness of plum along with the great taste of apricot. 

  3. 11 varieties of the best tasting Asian Pears.  These asian pear varieties are the best tasting varieties available.  They do very well on Salt Spring and sell very well also.  They tend to keep better than the European pear, which I have completely removed from the orchard. It was a Pear Divorce. No more European pears.

  4. 15 varieties of eating grapes, as an experiment to see if they grow well here.

  5. We also have continued to grow fragrant roses on their own rootstock.  In 2005, we planted 45 new roses (mostly grown by us on their own rootstock).  In order to acquire new rose varieties we must often buy grafted roses and grow them for one year until we can take cuttings and then propogate them on their own rootstock.   Our roses are marvellous in June, but quality does deteriorate as the hot dry summer arrives.

In January of 2005, we planted 42 new trees including plumcots, asian pears and 30 apple varieties. With the 2006 planting of 26 apple varieties, we have almost completed the planting of our orchard and have acquired almost every apple variety necessary to make our orchard a truly marvelous place.   Apple Luscious is dedicated to taste, so we only grow great tasting apples and have in fact, removed varieties such as Golden Delicious, Goldrush, Prima, Sir Prize, Sweet Bough, MacFree and Mollies Delicious because their taste was not good enough.  As our GUARANTEE states,When you taste our apples, if you don't say,

Wow, that is incredible!

at least once before you leave this orchard, then we have not been successful.

Spring 2005 was very cool and wet, so pollination was poor. However, a fair crop of apples was grown possibly due to the orchard (mason) bees we keep in the orchard.   Due to the cool, wet weather, apple scab did turn out to be more prevalent than normal, but it did give us a chance to assess scab resistance in all apple varieties.  One of the latest findings by Dr. Gerry Potter, a British cancer researcher, is that Salvestrols are created in organic fruit and vegetables in response to fungi in the environment.  Found just under the skin, salvestrols kill cancer cells, but tend to do no harm to regular cells.  Based on what an old-timer here said, there is a chance that apple scab, which is caused by fungus, actually helps fight cancer in humans.  This feels like a real NEMESIS for organic growers, since customers normally do not want to buy apples with scab on them.  Perhaps in the future, we will be charging more for apples with scab on them. 

 Highlights of Natural

  1. I found earthworms in a cavity in an apple tree, one up 7 feet and two up 4 feet from the ground.

  2. Listening to a red headed sapsucker tap on an aluminum ladder 2 mornings in a row.

  3. In May, Debbie discovered a small garter snake up about 18 inches in a Wynoochee Early apple tree (The apples are less than golf ball size).  The snake seems to be embracing the apples, finding comfort in them or  simply being energized by apples.   I took lots of photos as the snake did not rush to move.

  4. A barred owl spent a few days perched in trees on the edge of the orchard looking into the orchard.  We were sure, it was interested in catching our chickens, but by watching, we discovered that it was catching snakes.  At one instance, it swooped down into the next pathway to me, so I scared it away before it landed and when I got where it was heading, found 2 snakes all curled up in a coil.  2 saves for me.

  5. In June, a tree frog was found comfortably held by the petals of a Jude the Obscure rose.   It is my favourite rose for fragrance, so I am sure the frog was in heaven.  This frog also was in no rush and allowed us to take lots of photos.

  6. Hawks killed at least 6 of our young chicks from about 4 different batches of chicks being raised by mother hen.  Since chickens roam the whole 2.5 acres of orchard, they are vulnerable.  We brought in some fertile eggs from another farm, in order to acquire some new varieties such as Jersey Giant.  We also let our broody hens sit on our own eggs, in order to get new chicks.  So we have quite a variety of chickens roaming the orchard plus about 3 roosters, 2 Rhode Island Reds and 1 Barred Rock.  All 3 roosters are friendly otherwise they would be in the stew pot.  These roosters are not selfish and are quite incredible at looking after their hens.   One Rhode Island rooster would drop blackberries on the ground and then call the hens over to get the berries.  I also watched him do that with four 10 day old chicks right at my feet.  He would find food, call the chicks over and then drop the food for them. He was teaching the young to search for food.

Apple News

  1. The apples that people really liked in 2005 were the Honey Crisp and Sweet Sixteen.  Not only great tasting, but crisp, juicy and relatively scab free.

  2. The best tasting keeper was the Braeburn, which was picked about Nov 10.   These apples were great tasting and kept their firmness and flavour on into March.

  3. Cox Orange is our best seller and I dry lots of Cox Orange Pippins to eat after all our apples are gone, from about March until August.  This prevents me from getting APPLE WITHDRAWAL symptoms, when I am forced to rely on other people apples to eat.

  4. We had quite a good crop of apples despite the cool spring.  It seems that the orchard bees must have helped pollinate during that cool period.

  5. The Apple Festival was a great success this year, even getting a boat load of apple growers from Port Townsend, Washington coming up for the day, and a bus load of seniors from the Sunshine Coast.   The weather was slightly rainy, but it didn’t keep people away.   At Apple Luscious we offered tasting of 100 varieties of apples.  Our neighbour Isabelle shows off the 100 varieties for tasting.

  6. We also launched our educations, informative and humourous Orchard Tours this year featuring over 80 signs throughout the orchard explaining all facets of organic apple growing.  It proved very popular.   Below is one of the signs.

  7. We got to taste many apple varieties for the first time and it was fantastic.  Winesap, Karin Schneider, Duchess of Oldenberg, Zuccalmagglio’s Reinette, Braeburn, Sweet Sixteen, Cox Queen, Cherry Cox, Elstar, Red Flesh, Winterstein.  All were better than we could have imagined.  There are still about 60 varieties that we have never tasted and should be tasting in the next few years.

  8. We sell on Saturdays at the Moss Street Organic Market in Victoria.  We always give free tasting of all varieties that we are selling.  That turns out to be one of the most fun things on Market days, watching everyone try out all the different apples.  Part of this is getting people to taste with their mouth and not their eyes.   Cox Orange Pippins is an incredible apple, one of my favourites.   It would not sell in supermarkets because it is small, somewhat ugly and russeted.  Tasting gets people turned on to all apples.  It brings out the kid in everyone.

We sign off now as March is a very busy time due to the following jobs: grafting, pruning, planting, selling trees in the nursery, planting roses and starting the vegetable transplants in the greenhouse.  So have a great year, hoping it brings you health and that you get to taste a few apples this year that make you say   “WOW”.

Harry and Debbie Burton,
Sid, Tippy and Avery (the 3 dogs)
Lucky, Minou and Cocoa (the 3 cats)
Our many happy hens and 3 roosters.