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Organic Orchards

It has long been known that non-organic apples sold in stores contain pesticide residues. Apples have been on the dirty dozen list since it started, and were number one for years. The pesticide residue and buildup in orchard soil is so bad the Oregon State University published this bulletin in 2009, which was reviewed again in 2017: Yesterday’s Orchard… Today’s Home Legacy Pesticides on Former Orchard Property.

Even in 2018, many of the ingredients in sprays recommended for home orchard use by Extension agents are toxic compounds, and it is recommended that for codling moth alone, they should be sprayed every 10 to 14 days. 

There is an alternative, and it has been led by Michael Phillips, in his books The Holistic Orchard, and The Apple Grower. The premise behind his approach is to build up the immune systems in and around the fruit, so they can more successfully fight off diseases on their own. One of the keys to the program is the holistic orchard spray, a combination of active microbes, molasses, fish fertilizer, seaweed, and neem oil.

Garden Green became involved when a Vashon resident, Dr. Ethan Russo, gave a tour and talk about his own success with using the methods outlined in The Holistic Orchard. One of Dr. Russo's talks was videotaped, and you can see it here.

To help get the word out about the success of this organic program, Garden Green purchased all the ingredients and a sprayer, and set up a workshop so people can become more familiar with the holistic orchard spray ingredients. We mixed up a batch, took it outside, and everyone got a chance to spray a fruit tree and take home a sample of the spray. Here are some photos of the day:

Handout and Resources From March 25 talk

There was one handout everyone received: a list of ingredients, costs, and sources - plus recipes to make up 1, 2, 3 and 4 gallons of spray. Click here to download that handout. There was also research done on the risk of conventional pesticides compared to neem oil. Click here to download that resource.

Here are additional online resources for you, if you are interested in growing your own organic fruit using the methods outlined by Michael Phillips:

1. Michael Phillips' website for additional guidance:

2. The best link to use if you would like to join the holistic orchard online forum: This is the page to see recent activity and hot topics and then go onward to whatever interests you.

3. Grow Smart, Grow Safe - to check out the hazards associated with any pesticides you or your neighbors may be using:

4. Vashon Island Fruit Club:

At least 215 Vashon-Maury households are members. It is a large and active group.

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