Watch as Farmers Grow

Special Project Summary – Perennials – 2013

January 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Casey in Perennials - (Comments Off on Special Project Summary – Perennials – 2013)

Special Project Summary – Perennials – 2013

Report on status of Perennials and practices from 2013.

Also note: CH Served as ‘Farm Manager’ from July to end of Season, to cover for MR.

2012 Perennials Manager Summary

February 6th, 2013 | Posted by Casey in Perennials - (Comments Off on 2012 Perennials Manager Summary)

Perennials Manager Summary 2012

by Colleen Harrington

It was my fifth season at North Slope Farm when we undertook “the great fruit/nut planting of 2010”.  After digging 125 holes and getting these plants settled in, it was already time to jump in to the main vegetable production season.  The season was flying by and the time we could put towards this new undertaking (perennials) was just bare minimum.  We had numerous casualties by the end of the season.

The following spring of April 2011, when replacing dead trees, we utilized the same varieties.  Time spent caring for our fruit and nut bearing “friends” did increase slightly but not nearly enough.  Our trees were just surviving when they could and should be thriving.

In 2011, much of my time was spent outside of our primary production areas working to re-establish our perennial herbs in the “Corner Garden”.  It made sense for me to increase my responsibilities to include all perennials.

In 2012 I took on the role of Perennials Manager.  At the start of the season, my goal was to be sure all our perennials had:

  • Enough water.
  • Protection from larger predators in the form of fencing and trunk guards (for trees).
  • Quality compost.
  • Ramial woodchips(to promote a more fungal dominated soil) and
  • Pruning and thinning
  • Hand weeding around plants.

These goals were part of a one year management plan which incorporates what I consider to be most “basic needs” for all perennial plantings.

Overall, it was a successful year.  Our Lemon Verbena crop was excellent, with a yield of 7.6 pounds of dried herb tea per 120 square foot bed.  We saw our first peaches ripen and all “basic needs” were met.  As a result the survival rate of our trees increased from just over 50 % in 2010 to over 90% in 2012.

Among this seasons challenges was the “unhappy cherries” (less than half survived).  We also saw severe disease and pest damage in our oldest apple trees along with a harsh spring frost which resulted in our lowest yield in years for apples. Deer pressure continues to be a threat in the form of trunk rubbing and terminal bud nibbling.  The “market garden” is protected by an electric fence which had been destroyed on the entire north side.  We spent a day repairing the electric fence and we were also able to erect a deer fence around the “fruit cluster” in early winter.  Yeah!

The long term management strategy will build onto the “basic needs” plan as we learn more about the specific varieties we grow. We will become more familiar with specific fungal, bacterial and pest challenges here at North Slope Farm.  We also hope to foster the growth of healthy plants by promoting diverse and abundant soil microbiology and by increasing overall diversity on the farm.

Additional goals for the 2013 season:

  • Application of the “Four Holistic Sprays of Spring” (see Michael Phillips book The Holistic Orchard or go to
  • To utilize compost extracts and fermented herb teas to promote plant health (The Compost Tea Brewing Manual, Fifth Edition by Elaine R. Ingham, Soil Foodweb Incorporated at
  • Establish and map soil sampling sites for future reference.
  • Establish beneficial plants in and under drip line of fruit and nut trees.
  • Take soil samples and send for analysis.
  • Track degree days to help monitor specific pest and disease pressures.
  • Tracking exact dates of: (1) bud break (2) week of quarter inch green (3) early pink (4) bloom (5) petal fall and (6) first cover to help with the timing of any holistic spray applications.

A final component of the long term plan is to double the herb production and sales each season until we reach $10,000/year.  This will require identifying more production space, increasing herb seedling sales and upgrading our tea drying process.

As more of our perennial fruits and nuts come into their prime production years, our goal is to gross $20,000 per acre.  However, for the next few years the focus will be on boosting health and vigor by utilizing holistic orcharding techniques.

Click on image below to view varieties and planting details for the Perennials Project. 
Perennial Crop Inventory

 Information about the project, including annual summaries, will be shared on our website under Special Projects; Perennials or a specific crop name.

Introduction to Perennials

February 6th, 2013 | Posted by Casey in Perennials - (Comments Off on Introduction to Perennials)

Perennial Crops– at North Slope Farm


January 2013

Prepared by MR and CH, January 2013


Intent: To increase the potential income of the farm by establishing crops that will yield a diversity of fruits, nuts and vegetables in a regenerative manner.  Ideally the perennials will make use of land otherwise marginally, productive or accessible, for annual crop production.  Perennials may ultimately become a primary focus of the farm, but in the beginning, tasks should be coordinated with the Farm Manager to ensure a “Wholistic Farm Plan.”



  • Capital Investment; North Slope Farm.
  • Daily Management; Directed by Perennials Manager – CH
  • Site Details; infrastructure and fields managed by North Slope Farm, planted areas and future expansion delineated by Field Maps.
  • Enterprise; Establish recommended varieties of diverse Perennial Crops to get practical experience with the crop management and make judgments about the crop viability on our Farm.  Make use of ‘marginal agricultural land’ for minimally disruptive, long term crop production.
  • Regular records will be kept of costs and production.  North Slope Farm will be responsible for costs and income of the operation.
  • Information about the project, including annual summaries, will be shared on our website under Special Projects; Perennials or a specific crop name.


Data Points:

  • List Crops, Amounts Established, and Locations – LINK TO TABLE
  • Sources
  • Costs and Values
  • Yield information


Summary as of December 2011:


When North Slope Farm was purchased in 1994, there was a single, old fruit tree growing next to the farmhouse.  A crunchy, tart pear, great for storage, we refer to it, fondly, as the” farmhouse pear”.  The following year, six apple trees and two Asian pear trees were planted around the farmhouse.  All of these trees have grown to produce beautiful blossoms, organic looking but delicious fruits, while also providing a perfect classroom for practical’s, in pruning and observation, of the short and long term needs of these valuable members of our community.


By 2005, the main vegetable production areas were well established and incorporate perennial herbs and flowers, as well as “wild strips”; a place for our native plants, insects, birds and critters.  As stewards of this land, always looking to diversify flora and fauna, the next step in this journey was to establish more fruit trees.  Five apple trees were planted in the market garden and plans for a larger expansion were solidifying.  Expansion of perennial plantings is often a risk, due to potential for loss.  In 1997-98 we lost a new block of 40 Apple saplings, due to lack of irrigation and Rabbits chewing the bark from the trunks.


In 2010, with fifteen years of experience in vegetable and flower production, the land and its stewards were ready to get rolling on plans which would establish more diversity of berries and fruit trees within the “Market Garden” and “Corner Garden”.  The plans also included the establishment of a 1/6th acre plot dedicated to fruiting perennials and a 50’x 25’ area for hazelnuts.  These planting areas, known respectively as the “Fruit Cluster” and the “Sycamore Plot”, were chosen based on their proximity to infrastructure but also because these soils are least suitable for annual vegetable production.


This ambitious 2010 plan included:  (Peaches) 20 Curlfree, (Pears) 3 Bosc, 3 Red Anjou, 4 Seckel, 2 Moonglow, 2 D’Anjou, (Cherry) 6 Kristen, 10 Windsor, 6 Bing, (Asian Pears) 2 Large Korean, 2 Chojuro, 2 Shinseki, 2 Hosui, (Apples) 3 Enterprise, 3 Goldrush, 3 Jonafree, (Paw Paw) 4 American, (Fig) 5 Brown Turkey, (Gooseberry) 4 Pixwell, (Hardy Kiwi) 6 male, 3 female, (Grapes) 3 Ontario, 3 Buffalo, 3 Candice, (Blackberries) 72 Chester, (Strawberries) 400ft mixed Albion, Earlyglow, Sparkle and Honeyoe, (Filberts) 3 Butler, 3 Barcelona, 3 Royal, 12 Fingerlakes.



  • CH Personal Introduction to 2012 Special Projects – Perennials
  • 2010 planning map


Future discussion:  Assess production management; strengths and weakness.  Assess production potential and identify limitations to operation.  Identify values and costs of enterprise not reflected in hard data collected.


Click on picture below to visit our Photo Sets at