Sleepy Orchard

This is a clever name used to disguise a big mistake in selecting the rootstock when we planted the first apple trees. The first varieties were planted on an M.9/MM.106 interstem stock intended for trellis support structures used in the Northwest. Consequently they laid down to take a nap when they got older, hence the name. Under wind stress, the interstem also tended to break at one of the grafts. As this was our first experience planting apple trees, in retrospect it also seems we did not plant them deeply enough which likely contributed to the sleepiness as much as the rootstock choice. We also found they suckered far more than the later planting on M.26.

The trees planted in the next section of the orchard used a typical M.26 EMLA dwarfing rootstock and they stand up by themselves.

Most pests and diseases known to apples thrive here in the mid-Atlantic. We grow fruit for our own consumption, out of hand eating, pies, sauce, and in years past, a neighbor's pigs. But most of it goes to waste still, since even after years of tree losses, initially to incessant pruning by White-tailed Deer along with fire blight, etc., the trees produce far more than we can use.

The orchard is planted with heirloom varieties such as Cox Orange Pippin, Roxbury Russet, York Imperial, and so on. Although it is an admirable goal to preserve and carry on such varieties in the spirit of the ScatterSeed Project it is not practical to grow such varieties here in Maryland without an intensive IPM program. It remains our goal to institute such a program using spray components as ecologically non-toxic as possible and incorporating cultural practices used long before our current reliance on petrochemical pesticides, especially the organophosphorus compounds.

The reason that growing heirloom apple varieties is only in the "spirit" of the ScatterSeed Project is that apples do not come true from seed. So even though our pioneer forbears, most famously John Chapman (AKA Johnny Appleseed) planted millions of trees only a relative handful became recognized as tasty and desirable and were subsequently propagated by grafting. However, the colonist's main interest in apples was to make cider, specifically hard cider, and by the time of the American Revolution, we were averaging some 35 gallons of hard cider per capita annually. Cider was used heavily in the barter economy of the time and its derivatives such as vinegar to preserve harvests, supported many other aspects of colonial life. Seedling apple trees are typically fine for cider and cider vinegar purposes.