Nothing New

I’ve come to the determination that we’ve forgotten more about apple culture than we’ve learned over the last 100 years.  The above photo is from “The American Apple Orchard”, a book published in 1907 detailing apple culture in the USA at the time. 

Everything I thought was cutting edge they already knew; the value of mulch, nitrogen-fixing cover crops that are turned under in the spring, soil chemistry, genetics, and backyard orchard culture.  Many more apple varieties were available via mail-order nurseries back then. 

The chapter for the home orchardist stresses the home gardener should not attempt to emulate commercial growers, but should pick many varieties for successive ripening, and these varieties should be based on taste.  They also cover summer pruning for size control, and dwarfing rootstocks (thus the photo above).   It could easily be mistaken for a modern article, except the people are much better dressed (they worked the orchards in a vest and tie).

About the only big difference is in the composition of the sprays; lead and arsenic play major roles.  But our same lime-sulfur bordeaux mixture was already commonplace, and they were just starting to use dormant oil spray with good results.  They were also starting to tout the merits of crates over barrels, stating that consumers were more likely to buy a whole crate instead of just a few apples out of the barrel.  

It makes me long for simpler, more-civilized times.

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One Response

  1. Much better dressed–that’s funny! Maybe when my apples get big enough I can pick them while wearing a skirt.

    Ahh, if we only all dressed nicer today . . .

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