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The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist Enlarged 2nd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1931498913
ISBN-10: 1931498911
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  • The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Northern Woodlands (Review)-

As anyone who has ever planted a few apple trees knows all too well, growing apples can be a perplexing and frustrating endeavor. The trouble is that apples are very attractive to many of nature's creatures besides humans. And at least one of these creatures, from deer to apple maggot flies, and from the roundheaded apple tree borer to mice (not to mention the long list of diseases that also affect apples), is sure to be working for its share of the fruit (and in some cases the tree) every day of the year. But if you've ever baked a pie made from your own apples, or pressed a batch of cider from them, the trials and tribulations all seem worth it with that first bite or sip.



Michael Phillips' revised The Apple Grower has as much help as you'll find anywhere to get you to that first bite of pie or sip of cider. The previous edition, published in 1998, was the bible for many backyard orchardists and commercial organic growers. The new edition, boasting color photos and expanded and better-organized chapters, is a real treat for anyone interested in apples. The new edition's chapter on diseases and pests will be helpful to those left scratching their head about who or what is eating the apples or trees they are trying to grow.



Phillips sprinkles tributes to other apple growers throughout the text. These persistent and dedicated souls, along with Phillips, are exploring uncharted territory: they are trying, without the use of traditional pesticides and chemicals, to keep ever-evolving pests and diseases away from trees that are themselves not evolving. All named apple varieties are genetic dead ends. A Macintosh today is genetically identical to a Macintosh from a century ago, but the bugs and diseases have spent that time evolving to break through the trees' defenses.



Phillips presents intriguing ideas about orchard soils. Since people started growing apples in orchards, those orchard soils have largely been bacterially based, meaning that fertility has been maintained by the addition of bacteria-laden manure. Sheep and cattle were allowed to graze the grass and eat dropped apples, adding manure to the soils, and often the orchard was formerly pasture or hayfield, where manure was regularly added to maintain fertility. Bacteria-based soils are great for grasses and hay crops, but not necessarily for trees.



Phillips argues that apple trees are still, well, trees, and like other trees, they prefer forest soils, which rely mainly on fungi to break down organic matter such as bark, wood, and other plant matter to maintain soil fertility. Phillips believes that this soil is what apple trees naturally want, and that it makes them healthier and better able to deal with pests and diseases. He has been experimenting with using fast-growing comfrey in his orchard, cutting it down to add rotting plant matter and to stifle the growth of grass, which can rob an apple tree's surface feeder roots of nutrients. He advocates adding composted branches, bark, wood chips, and even excess chunks of sheetrock to your orchard to promote the fungi in the soil and deter grasses.



Phillips' style is more writerly than reference. His homespun stories about his many years of trying to outwit and outmaneuver the legions of apple-loving creatures are both entertaining and packed with tips. Phillips' extremely handy compendium of orchard tasks has always served as my basic plan of attack for what to do in my orchard, and the revised and expanded edition will be a welcome addition to my library. I have no doubt that over time it will take on the grimy, thumbed-through, and well-used look of my copy of the first edition of The Apple Grower.

(by Carl Demrow)

Northern Woodlands-

“Michael Phillips’ revised The Apple Grower has as much help as you’ll find anywhere to get you to that first bite of pie or sip of cider. The previous edition, published in 1998, was the bible for many backyard orchardists and commercial organic growers. The new edition, boasting color photos and expanded and better-organized chapters, is a real treat for anyone interested in apples. The new edition’s chapter on diseases and pests will be helpful to those left scratching their head about who or what is eating the apples or trees they are trying to grow. Phillips’ style is more writerly than reference. His homespun stories about his many years of trying to outwit and outmaneuver the legions of apple-loving creatures are both entertaining and packed with tips. Phillips’ extremely handy compendium of orchard tasks has always served as my basic plan of attack for what to do in my orchard, and the revised and expanded edition will be a welcome addition to my library. I have no doubt that over time it will take on the grimy, thumbed-through, and well-used look of my copy of the first edition of The Apple Grower.”



"A must read for anyone who grows apples or is contemplating doing so."--Lee A. Reich, garden author and Associated Press syndicated columnist

From the Publisher

"Northern Woodlands" magazine, Spring ’06 issue, pg.64. Book Review written by Carl Demrow

The Apple Grower, Revised and Expanded Edition By Michael Phillips. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2005.

As anyone who has ever planted a few apple trees knows all too well, growing apples can be a perplexing and frustrating endeavor. The trouble is that apples are very attractive to many of nature’s creatures besides humans. And at least one of these creatures, from deer to apple maggot flies, and from the roundheaded apple tree borer to mice (not to mention the long list of diseases that also affect apples), is sure to be working for its share of the fruit (and in some cases the tree) every day of the year. But if you’ve ever baked a pie made from your own apples, or pressed a batch of cider from them, the trials and tribulations all seem worth it with that first bite or sip.

Michael Phillips’ revised The Apple Grower has as much help as you’ll find anywhere to get you to that first bite of pie or sip of cider. The previous edition, published in 1998, was the bible for many backyard orchardists and commercial organic growers. The new edition, boasting color photos and expanded and better-organized chapters, is a real treat for anyone interested in apples. The new edition’s chapter on diseases and pests will be helpful to those left scratching their head about who or what is eating the apples or trees they are trying to grow.

Phillips sprinkles tributes to other apple growers throughout the text. These persistent and dedicated souls, along with Phillips, are exploring uncharted territory: they are trying, without the use of traditional pesticides and chemicals, to keep ever-evolving pests and diseases away from trees that are themselves not evolving. All named apple varieties are genetic dead ends. A Macintosh today is genetically identical to a Macintosh from a century ago, but the bugs and diseases have spent that time evolving to break through the trees’ defenses.

Phillips presents intriguing ideas about orchard soils. Since people started growing apples in orchards, those orchard soils have largely been bacterially based, meaning that fertility has been maintained by the addition of bacteria-laden manure. Sheep and cattle were allowed to graze the grass and eat dropped apples, adding manure to the soils, and often the orchard was formerly pasture or hayfield, where manure was regularly added to maintain fertility. Bacteria-based soils are great for grasses and hay crops, but not necessarily for trees.

Phillips argues that apple trees are still, well, trees, and like other trees, they prefer forest soils, which rely mainly on fungi to break down organic matter such as bark, wood, and other plant matter to maintain soil fertility. Phillips believes that this soil is what apple trees naturally want, and that it makes them healthier and better able to deal with pests and diseases. He has been experimenting with using fast-growing comfrey in his orchard, cutting it down to add rotting plant matter and to stifle the growth of grass, which can rob an apple tree’s surface feeder roots of nutrients. He advocates adding composted branches, bark, wood chips, and even excess chunks of sheetrock to your orchard to promote the fungi in the soil and deter grasses.

Phillips’ style is more writerly than reference. His homespun stories about his many years of trying to outwit and outmaneuver the legions of apple-loving creatures are both entertaining and packed with tips. Phillips’ extremely handy compendium of orchard tasks has always served as my basic plan of attack for what to do in my orchard, and the revised and expanded edition will be a welcome addition to my library. I have no doubt that over time it will take on the grimy, thumbed-through, and well-used look of my copy of the first edition of The Apple Grower.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; Enlarged 2nd edition (October 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931498911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931498913
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I LOVE this book.

I'm particularly impressed with the density of information: too many hobby farm/small farm books take a once-over-lightly approach, but this one is deep on detail. I also appreciate the discussion of seedling trees: typically I've seen them ignored or dismissed as irrelevant. The discussion of root stock is a help too; before this I've seen it only discussed in terms of it's limiting factor on size, but this also introduces issues of hardiness and climate appropriateness. The book is incredibly thorough while reminding the reader that there are no "cook books" to growing organic orchards, it's still an art and science that is being developed.

I spent the first few years of my life on an old-fashioned orchard and have never recovered. Now, after 30 big-city, corporate years the world is circling back to the kind of orchard I've always longed to have, and this book is filled with invaluable information on how to proceed. Next year I'm headed back to the country, this book in hand, to make a home and create a backyard cider orchard. I know it's hard work and the best of it may happen after I'm gone, but this book gives me the courage to begin and information to guide me as I figure it out.

I hope within 5 - 10 years I'll be toasting the author with my own apple cider!
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Format: Paperback
The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist

by Michael Phillips, 320 pages, 8x10, softcover, 2nd

edition. Whether you consider yourself to be a novice

or an experienced orchardist, if you want to grow

apples organically, this is the book for you. For many

decades apples were high in toxic residues, but

thankfully, that is finally changing. A great deal of

research is underway on lessening the use of synthetic

poisons in the orchard. The results in the past few

years are heartening. Since The Apple Grower first

appeared seven years ago two important products for

the organic orchardist, Surround and Entrust, have

become available. It is now quite possible to grow

very decent apples organically. This revised and

expanded version includes apple growing basics from A

to Z, as well as the latest research and strategies

for successful organic orcharding. A lot of us have

been begging Michael to update his book and we're

thrilled with the result. He has read the studies,

done the interviews, tested the products and found an

effective way a way to organize the information and

communicate it to the rest of us. Even if you already

have the first edition, you still need this

substantial revision.
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I think this a very well written, well laid out book that could help you get started in the apple orchard business. The thing that I find most interesting about this book is that you don't need to be dedicated to organic methods to learn an enormous amount from this book. It is full of general information to aid in the whole process of growing apples.
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I have only read the first few chapters, (and have browsed ahead), but so far it's great! They really go into detail about how apple trees grow.
It reads a little like a textbook, but not too dry. We have 9 apple trees in Mid-Missouri and are hoping to expand and improve in the future. I think this book will be a big help. If you just have a couple trees in your yard and just want to know how to prevent disease, repel bugs, or what fertilizer to use, this book may be a little more in-depth than what you're looking for. No doubt you would find useful information here, but it may be a little more detail than you needed.
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I've heard about this book for several years and it is truly a must read, everything I was led to anticipate. It is loaded with facts and experiential info. It's also fun to read. Don't be intimidated by how much info there is. Just use it and keep going back into it as you get more familiar with Michael's approach. I teach at The Meeting School, a little Quaker farm school in southern NH. I'm definitely using this book with my students from here on in. Happy orcharding.
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While the initial chapters are hard going, with a little too much repetition (N.B. Editor), the chapters pick up the pace by midway and the book finishes very strong. Consequently I went from regretting the purchase to very happy that I selected this book and stuck with it.
I think I will continue to value the considerable wisdom in this book. The author provides very comprehensive knowledge about organic and sustainable orchard growing with clear instructions and ideas. A strong editor could improve it even more by structuring it into a more textbook style (IMHO).
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This book offers a multitude of do-able, reasonable ways to grow apples organically without going totally nuts. I will be trying several of the ideas this year and hope/plan to outwit the apple maggots and codling moths. Besides being a great one-place source of info, The Apple Grower is beautifully and sensitively written--a nice read along with the suggested procedures.
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