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The Holistic Orchard (Book & DVD Bundle) Paperback – February 1, 2013
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With the rising popularity of farmers’ markets and ever-increasing availability of organic foods in mainstream grocery stores, more and more gardeners are catching the urge to go pesticide-free. For fruit lovers wanting to tend an orchard on a small scale, Phillips, author of the gardening best-seller The Apple Grower (2005), offers a wealth of tips and tricks here on growing berries and tree fruits without resorting to toxic sprays. Eight information-packed chapters cover such basics as orchard design, seeding and growing schedules, and soil varieties, all using natural methods of cooperating with nature to resist attacks by garden pests and plant diseases. Phillips also provides an exhaustive directory of fruit varieties, from pome fruits, such as apples and pears, to stone fruits, such as cherries and nectarines. Although the guide is aimed primarily at home growers with a little yard space and a yen for organic produce, professional orchard managers can certainly benefit and will hopefully be prompted to shy away from pesticides as well.
The Holistic Orchard is a breath of fresh air in a genre too often characterized by occult mysticism and/or an air of moral superiority. Phillips (The Apple Grower, 2005), a farmer/orchardist with many years of experience, is a pragmatist, not a polemicist; he successfully covers topics ranging from plant biology and ecology to the realities and economics of niche markets. The author presents a challenge to backyard fruit growers and community orchardists to produce healthy, quality fruits organically. Phillips begins by discussing the soil and finishes with marketing his fruit at the production site. The text reflects his infectious enthusiasm, his deep understanding of the positive and negative impacts of natural organisms on his trees, and his commitment to hard work and critical thinking. The author addresses the challenges of dealing with disease and insect and animal pests along with the need to accommodate trees' annual needs for nutrients; he uses approaches that seek to promote within orchards a diversity of beneficial organisms as well as methods that promote the plant's immunological response via phytoalexins. This book is richly photographed and contains well-placed sidebars with pertinent information. It was a delight to read. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All undergraduate students, general readers, and professionals/practitioners.
Despite a wealth of information available about grafting, soil health, tree planting, and pruning, there’s one major area of orchard management that’s tough for any beginner to learn: confidence. That’s where Michael Phillips comes in. As a farmer in northern New Hampshire, and author of The Apple Grower, he provides gentle-but-sure advice on holistic orchards in a way that’s encouraging and valuable. Beginning with a fascinating explanation of forest-edge ecology―which defines where fruit trees thrive best―Phillips moves into topics like fungal dominance, haphazard mulching, pulsing agents, and more. For those moving to the next level of orchard management, Phillips delves into the specifics of three major categories of fruits: pome, which includes apples and pears; stone, which encompasses cherry, peach, plum, and apricot; and woody berries, including blackberry, currant, gooseberry, and raspberry. Throughout, Phillips adopts a genial tone that blends farmer-next-door friendliness with a more academic approach. The mix works, giving the scientific descriptions more weight while keeping the material accessible. In general, the sheer breadth of information presented can seem overwhelming, particularly for a beginner, but it’s likely that those who are interested in getting started in holistic orchard practices will appreciate having such a thorough reference guide.
The author of the classic guide for small-scale fruit cultivation, The Apple Grower, returns to the orchard. Phillips, who grows apples and herbs in New Hampshire, concedes early on that growing fruit that is both attractive and delicious is more challenging than cultivating vegetables and herbs. What distinguishes this book from other organic guides is the author's ecological approach. He argues that orchard success begins with a deep understanding of soil health and forest-edge ecology. The chemistry lessons may challenge many, but he translates most of the science basics into practical routines that any gardener could use. Straightforward information on selecting trees and horticultural basics such as pruning and pest management follows. For those who intend to invest significant time and resources into growing fruit, this is a comprehensive guide to managing a healthy and bountiful orchard. Color photographs and illustrations throughout.
Amazon.com Editorial Review-
The demand for high-quality, organically grown food is skyrocketing with people's gradual understanding of the health risks and dangers of chemical pesticides and "industrialized" farming, yet good organic apples are still hard to find in many places. Phillips has employed hard work and keen observation of nature to make the best use of our great-grandparents' experiences and techniques. He then examines the latest scientific knowledge of apple pests and their life cycles to produce a thorough guide to growing wonderful, delicious varieties of apples in an orchard that is safe for animals, birds, and children playing under its tree branches. Each chapter has practical advice for the backyard fruit grower, and while this book is filled with useful facts and tactics, Phillips also adds a gentle, Earth-friendly, philosophical writing style that makes for quite an enjoyable read.
"Rooted in the author's many years of organic orcharding experience, this book blends ideas from soil science, holistic health, permaculture, and traditional fruit growing into a powerful new approach to orchard design and care. Phillips' first-hand knowledge anchors this innovative and highly readable book in practical wisdom that both beginner and long-time fruit growers will find invaluable."--Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
"Michael Phillips' Holistic Orchard is a seminal work, to be compared with Sir Albert Howard and J.I. Rodale's classic books on soil and organic gardening. This is deep horticulture at its best, showing just how and what we must do to orchard sustainably and ecologically."--Bill MacKentley, St. Lawrence Nurseries
"The words 'holistic' and 'comprehensive' barely do honor to Michael Phillips' scope in The Holistic Orchard. The author has woven multiple strands of orchard knowledge -- based on his expansive vision and a lifetime of experience, together with the wisdom of researchers and fellow fruit growers -- into a brilliant web that captures the wonderful complexity of the orchard ecosystem. A sparkling joy to behold!"--Guy Ames, orchardist and tree fruit specialist with ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
"The Holistic Orchard is a stimulating account of fruit production from a biological rather than chemical approach. Phillips' orchard philosophy- learned from keen observation and reflection- will fall and clobber you like a giant Newtonian apple; then, your walk through the orchard will never be the same. Digesting this book is like tasting a delectable new apple variety for the first time."--Tom Burford, Orchard Consultant, Author, Apple Historian
"For decades experts have insisted that organic orcharding is an impossibility. Michael Phillips has led the effort to show that the truly sustainable, organic orchard is something we all can have. His example has been an inspiration. His tireless research has provided a road map to creating our own holistic orchards."--John Bunker, apple historian and author, Not Far from the Tree--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Michael Phillips is a farmer, writer, carpenter, orchard consultant, and speaker who lives with his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Grace, on Heartsong Farm in northern New Hampshire, where they grow apples and a variety of medicinal herbs. Michael is the author of The Apple Grower (Chelsea Green, 2005) and The Holistic Orchard (2011), and teamed up with Nancy to write The Herbalist's Way (2005). His Lost Nation Orchard is part of the Holistic Orchard Network, and Michael also leads the community orchard movement at www.GrowOrganicApples.com
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This is the BEST book on holistic orcharding out there. While it's accessible, Phillips isn't afraid to get down in the dirt and go for technical biological details. A huge amount of information, but this didn't leave me wondering where to begin- he takes care of that by stepping you through the timeline and process. As soon as I'd finished reading, I started over and read it again. We all have areas that are more difficult for us than others, and some chapters will require me to study them carefully before I master the detail. I know I'll be referring to it frequently, and as my knowledge and understanding builds, I'm certain that I'll continue to gain insights from it through the years to come. This book has heft and value!
Apples are listed as one of the dirtiest conventionally produced crops. When I started researching how to care for fruit trees it was a tough slog. I respect organic farmers deeply, but for many the basic bias is the same as conventional ag, just using less toxic chemicals. The problem is that if it were as simple as substituting less toxic chemicals EVERYONE would be doing it - no farmer really wants that crap around his home and family. Spraying isn't only a chore, but a hated one. When you need to wear protective clothing it's hard to feel good about you're doing, instead it encourages a war zone mentality. We war against insects, we war against disease.
After studying organic, permaculture and biodynamic farming for 5 years, I finally stumbled across Elaine Ingham's work on soil microbiology, and became convinced that the key is maximizing the health of the biological critters in the soil, and finding ways to support them correctly so that they can support my apple trees. But this is all pretty new, cutting edge science, and figuring out how to progress from that understanding to an actual maintenance and treatment program was beyond me. I had bits and pieces of the puzzle.
I renamed my sprayer the "Lunch Wagon" and began spraying enhanced compost teas and raw milk, preferentially feeding the "good guys" to allow them to get the upper hand.
This book goes way beyond that. Michael Phillips pulls all of the disciplines together in a comprehensive approach. He's a real farmer who needs results, not an academic or an acolyte limited by a biased preference for one system or the other. An organic farmer for many years, he's willing and able to pull from biodynamic and permaculture principals to promote the biological content of the soil. Best, he does it with an orchardists' wisdom and understanding. Most of the materials/articles/books I've seen are focused on row crops, and the needs of an orchard are very different.
We all want to understand our trees, the essential understory and the microflora and fauna that make up the ecology of the orchard; but practical advice for dealing with real life problems is critical. Phillips supplies both the understanding and the practical steps to take to achieve results.
If you're committed to farming sustainably or if you just want a few fruit trees without poisoning your kids and pets with spray residues, take time to give this a thoughtful read!
Essential resource for anyone wanting to maintain an orchard on biologic principles. Written in a down-to-earth style and filled with helpful information on all aspects of orcharding, covering site selection, soil fertility management varieties, pruning, disease control, and much more.
If you want to maintain an orchard on holistic principles, this is the go-to-book.
Permaculture and food forests are popular buzzwords, but it is annoying how much revolves around weekend seminars, which are expensive and time consuming. I prefer information from books, which can be referenced. Many books on permaculture are limited to the climate of the author, but the authors do not seem to realize this and do not make a note of it in the book's description.
This book has helped me in two specific ways. I am in zone 5 USA, warm summers and freezing winters. I bought some blueberry plants in mid summer from a local store which had them on clearance sale. Using the information in the book, I was able to dig proper fertile holes and plant about 20, they all survived the heat and humidity.
The second thing I am doing as a result of the book is taking down trees over the winter, preparing to plant clover and grass. The book states which clover is best to plant, though I can't find a reference source for the claim. So, I am planting red, crimson, white and yellow, along with orchard grass.
Michael Phillips has also set up a website.
The main thing I have learned is the one absolute requirement is sunlight, at least here, edible plants simply require at least 6 hours of light. (Perhaps some tropical plants require less.) Also, there does not appear to be any quick and easy ways to plan what to plant. Everyone seems to recommend some clover because they provide nitrogen and they are durable.
This is a practical book and it is worth the cost for what I have learned so far. I hope to use it more in the future.
Edit: I bought it as an electronic book and use the "search" feature to learn about specific plants or terms. I think the book works well this way and do not know if it would work well to read it all the way through. I can't imagine myself reading a book this big all the way through, as most of it would never apply to my situation.
Most recent customer reviews
Too many 25 cent words, but once you get past the fancy language Michael Phillips really helps us achieve the practical knowledge needed to grow...Read more
I'd suggest Grow a Little Fruit Tree by Ann Ralph; Teaming with Microbes; and Gaia's Garden as much better information, especially...Read more