Q: Are your fruit trees organic?

A: It's a question that I am sometimes asked. To produce one of my nursery grown one year (Maiden) trees takes four years. I start with a two year old rootstock which has been transplanted once in a bed before lining out for grafting on my nursery. The summer following planting it is bud grafted or field grafted in the following February. It then spends the following year making its initial 'maiden' or one year growth, sometimes up to nine feet for the most vigorous and as little as two feet for the dwarfing varieties.

My nursery ground is not registered with the Soil Association but I do use absolutely minimal pesticides and herbicides, preferring regular mechanical cultivation with techniques and equipment that I believe are unique. This opens up the soil and keeps weeds at bay. I know that if a plant is growing well it is resistant to aphid and other pest attack. Many large nurseries blast the whole crop every week with a cocktail of pesticide and fungicide. I will not do this and I believe the benefits of natural crop production are transferred to customers gardens with my trees. I will use some pesticide however to 'spot treat' if there is no other alternative while your trees are forming their tender initial framework and to neglect them would be detrimental.

If your aim is for organic fruit only then this is achievable in your first crops with my trees. Its realistic to assume that meaningful production will start in the fourth year after planting and so you can be certain that the fruit then produced is technically 'organic' and true to that 'label' as it is used today.

See my 'Pruning and Aftercare' page - I have incorporated organic methods here - Its a work in progress and much to be added soon.

"Paul loves apple trees and insists that he sells each and every tree as a potential 100  year old providing generations with fruit"  (Monty Don, President of the Soil Association)