Comfrey and Mustard Cover Crops

June is an insanely busy month here on the farm. The sun rises at 5:30 am and sets at 9:00 pm and the pressure is on to use those daylight hours to the max. This IS the growing season, and what a growing season it's been. The rainy weather that started 10 months ago last August hasn't let up and once again we have a vintage being defined my moisture and cloud cover. Disease pressure is very high and so is the grass. It won't stop growing!

So here we are, mowing and mowing. Early seeded cover crops of mustard and white clover took well and added to soil micro-biome complexity and insect diversity. Comfrey interplanted in rows acts as a sort of perennial cover crop, suppressing competitive grass with it's massive leaves yet providing a more minimal competition with the tree due to it's deep tap root which feeds in a different zone. The taproot mines calcium from the soil and bioaccumulates it in the leaves which we then mow after bloom (comfrey's sweet purple flowers are a favorite with bees) allowing them to decompose and release calcium at surface for the tree's feeder roots.

 

IMG_7346Golden Russet Fruitlets

Fruit set was heavy across the board except in some of the highly biennial cider varieties that had a heavy crop last year. The ample moisture has fed lots of lush growth on the trees, as well as provided ideal conditions for foliar diseases. So far, our certified organic, bio-intensive program of building microbiology on the leaves and in the soil as well as boosting plant immunity has worked well, though the rain hasn't stopped yet and it's hard to imagine we wont see some real disease issues later in the season.

Lifting Rafters

In between the rain showers we are building a building! The addition to our cider barn will be a much improved work space that will make hand disgorging 24,000 bottles of traditional method cider every year a more humane endeavor. The building project is being made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Grown and Certified project.

Nailing Rafters

And in between the construction mess, we are still managing to get the 2018 vintage into bottles and laid down for the secondary fermentation. The vintage was a small one, and full of surprises, but some of the ciders are the best we have ever made, and we can't wait to share them with you once they have completed the final part of their journey from orchard to glass. In the mean time, stock up on dwindling supplies of past vintages from our online store.

Cheers,

Autumn

June 18th, 2019