ISSUE BRIEFING: Threats to Honeybee & Native Bee Populations and What You Can Do!

Think “bee,” and you’ll probably picture the familiar European honeybee (Apis mellifera) – small, with gold and black bands across its belly. But before the European honeybee was introduced to North America, there were already 4,000 species of bees on this continent. Although each of these varieties of bees have different life cycles and habitat needs, they all rely on flower nectar and pollen for their food.

Fruit Thinning & Recipes for Unripe Thinned Plums

This time of year, most common fruit trees need thinning as they tend to overproduce fruit. The fruit that is thinned is often inedible as it needs to be thinned before it is fully ripened. However, in the case of thinned plums, simply cooking them down can reduce their bitterness and transform them into a pleasant, tart addition to many recipes.

POP TIPS: Spinosad Orchard Sprays

POP encourages all orchard partners and backyard fruit growers to take every step in orchard management prior to pesticide or fungicide application. However, the unfortunate reality is that ecosystem imbalances and fast rates of reproduction and adaptation among pests and diseases make it very difficult to maintain no-spray orchards. If the following pests are decimating your crops, Spinosad is a recent natural pesticide development and alternative to Bt, which may be worth carefully exploring.

POP Field Trip: Truelove Seeds

I had the pleasure of visiting Owen Taylor at his farm within the Mill Hollow Farm in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Owen runs Truelove Seeds, a network of 20 farms that offers “rare, open pollinated, and culturally important vegetable, herb, and flower seeds.” Among this network of seed growers are several POP orchard partner sites, including Sankofa Farm at Bartram’s Garden, Mill Creek Farm, and Pentridge Children’s Garden.

POP TIPS: Black Knot on Cherry and Plum Trees

Black Knot identification, symptoms, and life cycle Sometimes, in the springtime, cherry and plum trees may develop subtle, velvety olive-green swellings on their branches or twigs. If left unattended, these swellings turn into large, brittle, unsightly black galls that can kill the whole limb or even stunt the growth of the entire tree. These galls … Continue reading POP TIPS: Black Knot on Cherry and Plum Trees

Supporting Threatened Pollinator Habitats & Introducing our Swarthmore Student Researcher Team

We here at POP are excited to share that we have been paired with 4 student researchers from Swarthmore College, who will be working with us over 8 weeks through POP’s School Orchard Program to create educational materials around building habitat for threatened pollinator species. Over the course of these 8 weeks, students will have … Continue reading Supporting Threatened Pollinator Habitats & Introducing our Swarthmore Student Researcher Team

Mason Bees: Philly’s Friendly Pollinators

You’ve probably heard the buzz about honeybees and how important they are to agriculture, but did you know that native bees such as mason bees are even better and more efficient pollinators of native crops? In fact, the species Osmia lignaria (pictured above) has been named the blue orchard bee for its recognized usefulness in … Continue reading Mason Bees: Philly’s Friendly Pollinators

PLANT SPOTLIGHT: Persimmon (Diospyros)

 PERSIMMON TREE FACTS Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries.  Korea and Japan have also been centers of its cultivation, and it was introduced to California in the mid 1800’s. Asian Persimmons usually grow between 13-20 ft tall and wide and are self-fertile.  At our community orchards, … Continue reading PLANT SPOTLIGHT: Persimmon (Diospyros)

Honoring Roseann McLaughlin and GrowAbility Honeybee Sensory Lesson Book (PDF Download)

It’s with deep sadness that we at the Philadelphia Orchard Project offer our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and community of Roseann McLaughlin of Overbrook School for the Blind, who passed November 2, 2018 in a tragic house fire. Roseann was the enthusiastic and loving cornerstone of the school’s Farm-To-Table program begun in 2013, … Continue reading Honoring Roseann McLaughlin and GrowAbility Honeybee Sensory Lesson Book (PDF Download)

PLANT SPOTLIGHT: Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) Tree Facts Black Walnut  (Juglans Nigra) is a perennial, stone fruit tree native to Eastern North America, commonly found in riparian zones (area between water and land).  Technically the walnut produces a fruit called a “drupe” and is not a true nut! The drupes are harvested in the fall, dehulled and … Continue reading PLANT SPOTLIGHT: Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)