Less Time to Chill

Cherries are finicky trees. They don’t like it when it gets too hot, when there’s not enough rain, and when it doesn’t stay cold enough during the winter. For the last few winters, California’s cherries have had all three of these environmental stresses and responded by producing fewer cherries.

B-rrring! It’s Spring

By Heidi Lewis

The cuckoo clock at the Greenwich Mean Time offices popped its head out at 11:02 a.m. on March 20, letting all us inside people know that it’s officially spring. For the outside world, the tightly wound mechanisms of nature's internal clock are springing plants into action. Petals and birdsong may fill the air, but spring is a delicate interval when seedlings and fruit tree blossoms establish themselves for the fruitful seasons ahead.


My 10-year-old daughter broke her pinkie a few weeks ago while battling to catch a football in a Hail Mary melee on the school blacktop. She had surgery to pin the bone together so it would grow back properly. “She’s going to need a few sessions of finger therapy,” the surgeon told us afterward. My other daughter, who had accompanied her sister, smiled mischievously and whispered: “That’s where you talk to the finger to make it feel better about itself.”

The Sound of Cold at Night

As a kid I always looked forward to spring time. Winter didn’t just mean less sunlight and standing at a bus stop early in the morning in a red down jacket trying to quickly mound up disparate flurries and street gravel into soggy battlements that would derail any school bus on its journey of despair. For me winter meant that I had to sleep in thick pajamas and wear socks to bed because our newly programmed thermostat turned off the heat in the middle of the night. Spring – with it’s chirping orange-breasted robins sitting on bright blue eggs, or unstuck wooden windows, or green grass growing, meant that I wouldn’t sweat away 10 pounds under Amish-patterned quilts and flannel PJs.

Eye on Owls

barn owlOwls can play a crucial role in rodent control on organic farms. Instead of traps or poison, owls are natural predators that can help control populations of rodents like meadow voles that can girdle and kill the fruit trees.

Good Fruit = GoodWorks

The Budding System

The first time I went to a Scion Exchange I didn't know what to expect—was it a science fiction convention? As I drew nearer I saw people entering the building with little sticks under their arms—was it some sect of Wicca? The Wicker Wiccan maybe? But no, a Scion Exchange is where farmers and home gardeners bring twig cuttings from their best fruit and nut trees to swap so others may grow heirloom varieties. The requirements are simple: bring some, take some, and make notes.

Profile: Chaffin Family Orchards

Chaffin Family OrchardsOroville, CA - Oroville is a gold rush town in Butte County, CA.  Oro means gold in Spanish, and during the Gold Rush prospectors stampeded over the area in a greedy frenzy.   When Del Chaffin came to the area, he was looking for riches of a different kind—a valley where he could grow crops year-round.

Fruit = Intelligence

Fruit is so good that scientists think it may make chimps smarter.

"Chimpanzees remember the exact location of all their favourite fruit trees," wrote Matt Walker on Earth News (A BBC.com website) June 8th. "Their spatial memory is so precise that they can find a single tree among more than 12,000 others within a patch of forest." He cited a joint Ivory Coast-German study that mapped more than 12,000 trees around the Tai National Park in Ivory Coast. Researchers found that chimps not only can find a single tree but can also remember which trees are in season and which trees are the best fruit producers.