Title: The Apple Grower: A Guide For the Organic Orchardist
Author: Michael Phillips
Strong points: The Apple Grower realistically covers the goals of growing a small scale commercial organic orchard. It both points out the challenges of growing organically and provides solid options for dealing with those challenges.
It is very evident that Michael has spent much time sharing experiences with other small-scale apple growers in regions all over the United States. He shares many of their observations and tips throughout the book.
This is not just a pie-in-the-sky, dream of growing without chemicals, book. Michael has certainly looked into the extensive science behind growing apples and includes many footnotes and bibliographic sources. If you want go directly to the research findings for your own reading, the notes throughout the book will help take you there.
Although this book is aimed at the commercial organic grower, there is much here that the advanced home-garden apple grower can apply equally well to a small planting of trees.
Weaknesses: If you are looking for a quick, easy, how-to-get-started primer, this book is probably not it. Much of what you will find in its pages requires some in-depth understanding of the complex orchard ecosystem and all that it entails. If you are looking to gain that understanding, however, this will be a worthwhile guide.
Green thumbs rating:
Michael Phillips is certainly a modern day Johnny Appleseed for the organic apple growing movement. He not only “talks the talk,” but obviously “is walking the walk.” In The Apple Grower, he shares not just the triumphs of organic growing (many of which were, in my experience, frequently overstated by early organic growing messengers); he also acknowledges his many trials honestly. In reading this book, you will walk along side Michael as he shares his philosophy, in-depth observations, and persistent creativity as he labors to keep his orchard environmentally and economially viable.
Michael Phillips has an abiding respect for the farmer and all the very hard work invested in that vocation. One of the first lessons, Michael points out, is one of economics and its necessity in sustainability. Indeed the first chapter is heavily devoted to the influence of economics and politics of food production in this country.
The writing style is poetic; keeping the science from getting too dry. The author certainly has a passion for his vocation and an appreciation for all that the apple provides in sustaining us all.
ISBN: 1–931498-91–1 (trade paperback)
# of pages: 343 pgs.
Appendix: Yes, 4 — Orchard Tasks, Supply Sources, Recipes, and Bibliography
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, PO Box 428, White River Junction, VT, 05001
Publication Date: 2005,revised and expanded edition
Disclaimer: This title is published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company, who is also the trade distributor for my own titles. The review is in no way provided due to this ongoing relationship. If anything, it may have made me that much more diligent in scrutinizing the book in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. I chose to review this book solely because I genuinely believe it has merit for gardeners seeking to become competent organic apple growers.
As a great complement to The Apple Grower and for all you need to know about growing apples and other fruit trees, buy The Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden.