Category Archives: Marketing & Outreach

The Perfect Fruit Tree Owner

August 29, 2019

McIntosh. My favorite.

Most will say you can’t grow a Mac here. Well, there is at least one tree in the Seattle area. Lori Brakken, apple sleuth, drives around and slams on the brakes when she spots any apple tree. She saw a Mac in the Seattle area and called me up. I visited the tree last winter and got permission from Kathy, the tree owner, to take some scion wood. (Allison and I made two grafts this spring and they both are doing well!)

Per the orangepippen website,  this apple was discovered by a John McIntosh, a farmer in Ontario in the early 19th century. The McIntosh was suited to the cold climate of the area as it achieves its best flavor in colder apple-growing regions.

Sat, Aug 31, 10-11, Qi Gong
Sat, Sep 7, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Sep 15, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Oct 5, 10-12, Work Party
Sat, Oct 12, 2-5, Cider Fest

“The McIntosh style is typified by attractive dark red or (more often) crimson colors, and a crunchy bite, often with bright white flesh. The flavor is simple and direct, generally sweet but with refreshing acidity, and usually a hint of wine – often referred to as vinous”.

Kathy was anxious for us to return this summer for pruning and to give her a yearly management plan. Her tree has apple scab so she has been instructed to pick up all the apples and leaves. (Venturia inaequalis resides in the litter.)

Kathy is the perfect fruit tree owner. She cares about the tree,  is eager to learn how best to care for it and allows us to glean much of the fruit for the food bank.

“I’m in the arts”, Kathy announced. “I am not fruit tree expert. I was given an assignment in a training to draw part of a tree, once each month for three months. I chose this apple tree. Noting the details and the changes really woke me up to nature.”

Structural pruning is usually done in the winter but we “took a bit off the top and the sides”. Kathy wanted pruning on the street side so auto owners would stop breaking the branches. She also wanted a walkway between the tree and a nearby bush. Pruning has to consider all of the various goals.

Allison is tall and she managed the long-handled pruners. She ate as many apples as she could while pruning. In the end, Kathy was satisfied. “The tree looks good, like it did in years past!”

Below is a comment by Bruce, from the orangepipen website:

I grew up in central Pennsylvania and with the scent of McIntosh apple pie and apple dumplings, next door, in my aunt Eleanor’s kitchen. The stand-out attribute of this variety in my mind is the distinctive aroma. Quite unlike any other. The fruit, also unlike any other, is extremely delicate; that’s why I think most grocers avoid stocking them (the phrase I’ve heard them called is “smash and toss” apples) They bruise easily then rapidly mush and rot. They are like a beautiful sunset. Awesome and short lived. I’m attempting (with limited success) to grow them here in Western Washington, difficult because it doesn’t get cold enough in the winter. I will continue the effort because these are the best apples EVER !


Planning for 2017

sues-jan-lettuce-wp_20170115_001January 31, 2017

Eleven thoughtful volunteers met this month to sketch out a vision for the coming year. The Cider Fest will be our key event, we will add a few more fruit trees and bushes and the food bank bed is expanding. (Note Sue’s gorgeous December lettuce, photo taken just after three periods of below freezing temperatures!)

There is plenty of work just to maintain what we already have in place so we curbed some dreams to be respectful of our existing resources. In addition to our regular workers, If we can entice everyone who volunteered within the last couple of years to come to just one work party in 2017, we should be able to keep the orchard looking lovely. Several volunteers are committed to volunteer recruitment, including a summer work party posting to Seattle Works.

nora-and-liz-on-ivy-wp_20170115_003You will see more elderberry and fig trees this year and you will see less English Ivy. Nora, Liz and Ellen are driven to ivy removal and, by the end of this year, the native plant area should be appropriately named!

Also, we are hiring. Please see our Library page for three documents that relate to this position.

We are looking for a fruit tree specialist to review our orchard management plan, make plan recommendations, visit the site monthly to make plant and soil observations and ensure the management plan is being followed by volunteers. City Fruit has graciously offered to help us with the interview process and this position is posted on their website.

We are estimating that the job will take 20 hours minimum, spread out over the course of 2017, and we are willing to pay $15-$30 per hour, depending on the candidates qualifications.

We need more than one volunteer who is committed to learning all that he or she can about the care of fruit trees. In order to continue high standards for tree care and to continue to offer educational events related to urban agriculture, we hope to find someone who wants to practice their management skills with fruit and nut trees. This internship offer is our part to increase the pool of qualified orchard stewards in the Puget Sound area.

Sat, Feb 18, 1-3, Pruning Class
Sun, Feb 19, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Mar 19, 2-4, Work Party

Kudos to all for 2016 improvements above and beyond maintenance:

•    Revised orchard walking tour flyer
•    Productive Food Bank bed, plus
•    Four new successful gardens
•    Native plant area development: 4 new plants plus non-native plant purge
•    New rolling drawer under table in shed
•    Bountiful harvest from all beds and fruit and nut trees and berries
•    New outdoor bench
•    Newly planted persimmon, pear and mulberry trees
•    Milkweed installation as part of the Endangered Species Coalition effort to provide food for Monarch butterflies
•    Events! Successful pruning class, Night Out and Cider Fest
•    Productive work with Hazel Wolf students and Kids Co students
•    Hosted CityFruit bike tour
•    Beautiful new artistic paver pathway to herb spiral
•    New volunteers and new gardeners, Ryan and, soon Michael, Stuart and Mitch
•    Regular City lawn mowing
•    Grape trellis installation and wiring added
•    Regular monthly blogs
•    Development of orchard management plan

Moonlight Hunt

October 31, 2016

While cleaning up after sheet mulching under the grape trellis, I noticed the box cutter was missing. Yikes! The blade on that tool was open. I looked everywhere I could think of, then, I looked back at the six-inch thick layer of chips on top of overlapped bike boxes. Hmmm … under there somewhere?

Many people were coming to the orchard soon, including kids. I visualized some child finding the box cutter. I knew I had better make an effort to find it.

I asked Aurora Rents about renting a metal detector but the representative was hesitant since the lost tool was close to a metal fence. I needed advice from the pros.

I left a message with Mark Kulseth, president of Cascade Treasure Club, the local metal detecting metal detector sm WP_20161028_004and treasure hunting organization. I asked him about the different types of metal detectors, thinking that I might buy one and then donate it to the Tool Library (so other gardeners could find those precious pruners buried somewhere in their garden.)

Mark emailed some general information about metal detectors and wrote that he would stop by the next time he was in Seattle. Wow!

All metal detectors will detect underneath the coil but when they get to close to large metal items, such as our chain link fence, there will be interference. With a small diameter coil (3″), it might be possible to detect the object.

He advised me to purchase a Garrett metal detector at KellyCo. An entry-level machine like the Ace-250 would do but it does not come with a small coil. Small coils are after market accessories.

Mark and a friend pulled up to the orchard on Friday and took a few tools out of his truck. He explained that, being near a fence, the best procedure is to use sweeping motions, from the fence inward, listening for an extra tone to indicate more metal than just the fence.

As we walked to the spot where I was sure I had lost the tool, he told me a story of a woman who was positive she lost her beloved engagement ring within a certain two-block area. Mark hunted with patience but came up empty handed. She called him a week later to say she found the ring in a sack of potatoes on her back porch.

Of course, I was thinking, “What if my tool is not where I have asked him to look! I don’t know where the stupid tool is. What a potential waste of his time!”

Sun, Nov 20, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Dec 18, 2-4, Work Party

Mark turned on his detector in the grape chips and in six seconds he pulled up the box cutter! Easy peasy for a pro. It had not even rusted yet … still perfectly useful.

I was thrilled and he was glad to get on his way. He said he had plenty to do to get ready for the club’s annual Moonlight Hunt, where they all go out with no flashlights and search for coins that are painted black. One of the coins will have a code and the finder will earn a nice new metal detector.

I should show up at this event and just paw around on my hands and knees to search for that special coin!


This is a re-post since WordPress ap Jetpack failed to notify subscribers of original post Oct 28.