By Michael Phillips; 432 pages.
Phillips, an organic orchardist in New Hampshire, adds to and expands on the information in his book the Apple Grower. The Holistic Orchard will change the way you look at fruit trees and berries and the complex web of life that surrounds them. It covers all the major tree fruits and also many types of berries.
Phillips demystifies the knowledge every ecological fruit grower needs to have. This includes choosing the right varieties for your climate, skills such as grafting, planting and pruning, companion planting and encouraging beneficial insects and pest control.
The editor Ben Watson added the following comments:
Holistic Orchard goes way beyond The Apple Grower in a number of important ways. First, we asked Michael to cover sustainable orcharding practices for all of the major orchard trees and berries. So there are specific chapters on pome fruits, stone fruits, and woody berry bushes. No strawberries, or vining plants like grapes and kiwis — and no wild fruits, except for elderberry (because most of these can be grown without a lot of problems, and other books deal with these native species). Instead, Michael has relied on his own continuing research and experience, as well as that of his vast network of holistic growers all over the US, to recommend varieties that will succeed in various climate zones and regions.
At the same time, Holistic Orchard takes the practice of orcharding “beyond organic” and shifts the whole focus from a chemical to a biological perspective. In other words, inputs and “controls,” whether synthetic or organic, are discouraged in favor of building the health of the trees and the soil, and bringing the plant/insect/fungus/microbe communities into balance. He does this in very innovative ways, as through his “Four Holistic Sprays of Spring,” and through understory management, haphazard mulching with ramial woodchips, and many other key strategies. The soil science chapter is right upfront, and is pretty dense — but we made it Chapter 1 because it’s so key to understanding the whole philosophy. Many readers will skip right ahead to the specific fruit chapters and circle back to the beginning later on.