Planting Weekend in Review

Garth Sander, owner of Willow Ridge Orchard (being established this week!), came out to help on Sunday. He loved to drive our new tractor, and made the straightest rows of us all. I think his doggy, Max, has a built-in GPS…Thanks, Garth!! Your tireless dedication and your inspirational conversation (and endless questions hehe), really made a gloomy day a lot brighter!


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In total, the tractor was running 17 hours, meaning we were averaging around 550 plants an hour, in pouring rain and drizzle and 25-30 kph winds.


Relieved (and proud!) it’s over.

All in all, the weekend was well-organized, and we were very glad we did the trial acre 2 weeks ago. It was really helpful for deciding how to schedule things. The other suggestion I would have, if you can’t do that, is to go and watch someone else plant their orchard (and help them!) and take from it what you will. Garth Sander did that with us, and he’s planting today in Chitek Lake. We went to his place last night; he’s where we were Friday–stressing over details that he really can’t change at this point, and wondering if it will all get done. It does. Magically. Sort of like having a child….when it’s over, you tend to just look at your new baby in disbelief, and forget instantly all the hard work you did to get to that point.

Do your due diligence. I spent months (2 years, really), reading every single thing about Haskap I could get my hands on. That, and things like row management, mulching reviews, research on things like fertilizers, I read the organic manual cover to cover, I read others’ blogs and articles. Took copious notes and made some decisions and also decided to try some new things. The Mechanical Planter? Nice frill, but not really entirely necessary if you have enough bodies who can plant by hand! and know how to do so efficiently (call tree planting companies or re-forestation people!) Garth is having people plant by hand today, since the planter isn’t that efficient on the narrow berms he’s built. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you. Realize the plants MUST go in the ground, MUST have a water source, MUST be nurtured. The water source? Mother Nature is best. It rained all weekend, and in the next 3 days, we are supposed to get another couple of inches. I don’t have to worry about watering until well into July! And maybe never again, this year!

Be passionate about this Little Purple Berry. I am. Peter is. You have to be. If this is purely a ‘money-making’ venture, and purely being done with an eye to profit, you stand a greater chance of failure because your heart won’t be in it. Part of your heart should be in the soil. We’re intending to work hard, but also enjoy what we are doing. Nothing is as satisfying to me as growing things. It’s in my blood.  Spread the word about the Haskap. Be positive and upbeat in all your dealings, and be fair with people. Share your exuberance and excitement, but try not to overwhelm people with information unless they ask.

Take care of your land and soil, and surroundings, and it will give back 10-fold. Look into as much sustainable practice as you can fit in there. It’s a new ‘buzz’ word, yes, but it applies to all we are doing. Our belief is the soil is bountiful, but must be replenished in kind. Look around for local sources. For example, we have two rather ‘wild’ horses across the road (owned by an 81 year old man who rarely visits them). I can spend a lot of time over there, scooping up their manure, and aging it in my compost pile. I don’t think it’s necessary to ‘brew’ that compost; it will get heated as compost does, all by itself, and spread in furrows and worked into the ground next to the plants.  Nature will take care of the rest! We have lots of access to things like grass clippings, legume clippings, natural sand, straw, worms. Water is plentiful here–quite a few natural ponds and some dug sloughs and a well! Native bees? That’s research I’m doing now. I’ll post on it later.

If you take photos or use photos, give credit where credit is due. Don’t take a photo of a raspberry orchard (or a grape orchard) and use on a Haskap blog or flyer! If at all possible, use your own photos. I appreciate that we don’t all have access to Haskap products and even ripe berries, but using others photos without crediting is wrong. Be honest in your dealings with people, and fair in your business practices.

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