Organic Orcharding at Creekside Resort
The orchard, when blossoming in April, looks like girls dressed for a dance in pink and white, dancing and swaying in the spring breezes. I always think of Anne of Green Gables’ “White Way of Delight” when I walk through the spring orchard. An orchard in bloom is full of beauty and promise. But warm spring days in the mountains can be deceptive when night temperatures suddenly turn freezing, ruining the promised harvest and turning those beautiful blossoms brown. West Virginia is a challenging place to be an orchardist and being an organic orchardist means being constantly vigilant. Every season has its tasks.
The organic orchard at Creekside was established in 1998 on land that was pasture and hayfield for over a hundred years with no exposure to chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The grass under the trees grows thick and deep green. When it reaches a height of twelve inches, we mow it and let it lie as a green fertilizer and mulch. We also add a ring of rotted manure around each tree for added nitrogen.
January and February are the pruning months. This past January we trimmed some of the apple trees to a modified central leader or open vase style to bring more sun and air to the fruit and to maximize the branches at an easy picking height. In spring the real work begins. In my next blog I will describe the tasks we undertake in the orchard as the orchard awakens each spring.