Category Archives: Pears

Dried (Really) Goods

thereachThe food dehydrator finally arrived. We’ve been researching the best methods for food storage and it has quickly become one of our favorite tools for preserving the harvest. We can now make jerky, fruit leather, and dry fruit, veggies, and herbs to store for months.

You can even dry sauces and soups for later use (a helpful tip for avid drytomcampers/adventurers).

I wasn’t sure what the kids would think – Would our dried apples compete with the store-bought variety? If the toddler had anything to say about it, I think they exceeded all expectations.

I normally buy dried tomatoes – I love the flavor and texture and it sometimes makes a decent meat substitute. Not only do the tomatoes dry really well, they’re something of a work of art when finished.

applebottomBuying fruit leather at the co-op is a bit costly for this family. Making our own is not only fun, but a healthy alternative. We use a bit of honey to add some sweet to match any tart flavors on part of the berries and can now make good use of all of that autumn olive at the farm.

leverI don’t normally do plugs for commercial products but in this instance, with the limited number of options in our region for food-safe dehydration, this product makes a really nice (and quiet) addition to your food storage arsenal. The Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-5A is one of the higher end models at the lower end of the total wattage spectrum. It’s a smallish unit with stackable trays (up to 12) and very quiet. Highly recommended, if solar isn’t a good option.

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At the root of any problem; find first the solution

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Branch infested with aphids prior to any application of spray.

We’re not your average farmers- eagerly awaiting a small infestation of aphids, so that we might experiment with solutions to eliminate them from our fruit trees, but there we found ourselves- eager at the sight of them to experiment with more traditional remedies. To prove more to ourselves than anyone else, that we can grow an orchard without chemical salts, fertilizers, and biocides- grow a food forest as nature might.

While nature doesn’t supply us with aphid spray (natural or otherwise), it does supply us with observable phenomena and if we apply this knowledge, rather than change the underlying structure, we can adapt and respond quickly; ensuring successful results.

We noticed not long ago that the tree suffering with curly leaf aphids was showing signs of stress. It had suckered on two occasions, and appeared thirsty. Within days, the aphids arrived.

Same branch the following morning.

People often look at aphids as the source of the problem with a plant, much as they might accuse the hungry woodpecker of destroying a tree. However, there are often underlying issues (and thankfully issues more easily resolved if noticed early on), that lead to infestations and disease.

Much as the overworked human might fall ill without rest and proper nutrition, and the tree, death by dismemberment, due to infestations of insects that attract woodpeckers, our trees will also suffer the consequences of illness, if not paired with good soil and adequate water.

Simply put, healthy trees stave off their own health issues. And trees interplanted with habitat for predatory insects that might feast on aphids, are at a huge advantage.

So apart from spraying a solution of peppermint oil, a soil conditioner, plus water (completely non-toxic), I also spent some extra time watering this particular tree and will interplant with some chives and comfrey in the next few days for added mulch and resistance to other aphid populations.

Normally, these trees would have been planted in an ideal mix of soil, mulched properly, and interplanted to start, however time constraints prevented us from first achieving the ideal conditions. What we hope to harvest from these trees, apart from eagerly anticipated apples and pears, is knowledge that may be applied in conventional orchards to replace costly and dangerous biocides.

“In teaching, there is healing; and in healing, we teach.”