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The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist


by Michael Phillips

The demand for high-quality, organically grown food is skyrocketing with people's gradual understanding of the health risks and dangers of chemical pesticides and "industrialized" farming, yet good organic apples are still hard to find in many places. Phillips has employed hard work and keen observation of nature to make the best use of our great-grandparents' experiences and techniques. He then examines the latest scientific knowledge of apple pests and their life cycles to produce a thorough guide to growing wonderful, delicious varieties of apples in an orchard that is safe for animals, birds, and children playing under its tree branches. Each chapter has practical advice for the backyard fruit grower, and while this book is filled with useful facts and tactics, Phillips also adds a gentle, Earth-friendly, philosophical writing style that makes for quite an enjoyable read.

The Apple Grower
is, foremost, a guide to orcharding. It is not, and is not sold as, a how-to manual. Phillips clearly explains his experiences with organic orcharding and offers innumerable tips on managing, marketing, and maintaining an organic orchard. He covers the topics in a nicely organized and logical manner -- from selecting land for the orchard, to planting, care, and marketing of the product. At first, I lamented the lack of very specific and concise how-to information. However, as you read the book as a whole, you realize that you are learning far more than a simple how-to book. Phillips becomes almost an experienced mentor and gives real insight into why things work and the ramifications of practical actions. Phillips makes it clear that there will be bad times and that organic orcharding requires work. The rewards, however, are clear.
   Phillips has a very engaging writing style and uses relavant anecdotes to underscore important points. The Story of Babs (pp148-149), one of the mini-anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book, is one of the funniest short stories I have read in quite a while.
   In all, this is a good practical guide written by an experienced orchardist.
S. Brown,


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