How did we do last year? POP’s 2016 Orchard Survey Summary

POP has been surveying all of our orchard partners at season’s end since 2013. Each year’s qualitative and quantitative results have shown growth, improvement, and areas in need of more attention. We want to share some of what we’ve learned with you! In all, 46 of 56 total POP partners (82%) participated in our 2016 survey. … Continue reading How did we do last year? POP’s 2016 Orchard Survey Summary

Building Living Soils with Biochar

  This edition of POP Tips written by 2016 Orchard Apprentice Alkebu-lan Marcus and Education Director Alyssa Schimmel. What if you could turn vegetative waste like twigs, wood chips, pruning clippings, and overwintered compost crops into a valuable, organic, soil-additive that promotes the growth and fertility of future orchard and agricultural plantings? You can! Enter biochar, a highly … Continue reading Building Living Soils with Biochar

Plant Spotlight: The Joyful Juneberry (Amelanchier spp)

By 2016 POP Intern, Lucia Kearney. It’s June, and that means a piece of good news for us all: the juneberries are ripening! While this is making some of us leap up and down doing happy dances, I’m sure it’s also making some ask, “What the heck’s a juneberry?!” Great question. Read all about them … Continue reading Plant Spotlight: The Joyful Juneberry (Amelanchier spp)

Plant Spotlight: Meet the Pawpaw! (Asimina triloba)

By 2016 POP Intern, Lucia Kearney. I first encountered the pawpaw one late-September day when my former elementary school art teacher came to my parents’ house for dinner. She and her husband had gone foraging for them on Swarthmore College’s campus before heading our way. I was perplexed; these fruits were native to the area, … Continue reading Plant Spotlight: Meet the Pawpaw! (Asimina triloba)

Organic Sulfur Spray and Early Spring Management

By 2015 POP Intern, Steve Palder, and Program Director, Robyn Mello Spring seems to have arrived a couple of weeks early this year, and the first scab spores have been detected in Pennsylvania! If buds on your fruit trees have begun to break (green tips or flowers emerging), this morning’s good spring rains provide a great … Continue reading Organic Sulfur Spray and Early Spring Management

Pruning: Bushes, Brambles, and Vines

  These categories of woody perennial edibles are are often considered much lower maintenance than fruit trees. As a result, it’s come to POP’s attention that they may not be receiving the attention they deserve when interplanted in our community orchards, so we’ll be working this season to highlight what to watch out for and how … Continue reading Pruning: Bushes, Brambles, and Vines

POP Pruning Guide: Fruit Trees

Pruning is the regulation of plant growth and productivity through branch removal and bud manipulation. Good pruning can help fruit trees become more resistant to pests and disease, as well as bear a larger, more consistent, and better quality harvest.  Annual pruning is strongly recommended for best health and production of the more common pome and stone fruits (apples, pears, … Continue reading POP Pruning Guide: Fruit Trees

Capturing and Conserving Water with Stormwater Catchments and Edible Rain Gardens

Volunteers plant water-loving perennials in the rain garden at new Lea Elementary partner orchard (above) In areas where runoff rainwater or overflow is a concern for causing soil erosion and the possible spread of chemical pollutants, pesticides, or sediment into the watertable, stormwater catchment allows for precipitation to be redirected into the landscape to benefit … Continue reading Capturing and Conserving Water with Stormwater Catchments and Edible Rain Gardens

Partnering with Stropharia: Integrating Beneficial and Edible Mushrooms into a Forest Garden Design

If you’ve ever had the urge to dig down a few inches into a pile of woodchips or a sheet­-mulched forest garden, you may have noticed the filamentous white tendrils of fungal mycelium inhabiting the woody debris below. This is just a glimpse of the natural processes that govern the life cycles within all forests: as plants and trees eventually die, … Continue reading Partnering with Stropharia: Integrating Beneficial and Edible Mushrooms into a Forest Garden Design

Autumn Composting in Orchards

Compost Benefits Why put compost in your orchard? The benefits are many. Adding compost will add organic matter to your soil, and thereby feed your trees and bushes with vital nutrients. Additionally, spreading compost around the base of your trees and bushes will help with water retention and may reduce your irrigation needs. Compost also … Continue reading Autumn Composting in Orchards