Spring out of bed earlier
A great start to the day includes waking up to sunshine, singing birds, and the sound of tractors plowing through the orchards below. With those sounds combined, spring is officially here. It’s a special time of renewal, especially of all things green on our farm. Our apple trees are all about to burst into bloom, the pinot noir vines are breaking out of their buds, the lettuces are looking great, and the flowers are just starting to turn into colors. We’re preparing for a gorgeous spring season of pastel-colored flowers and tender small lettuce heads.
Our ‘Winter Elegance’ Sweet Peas are just starting to pop
Susan Devoto admiring the first crab apple blossoms, ‘Malus Florabunda’
Thinning out the lettuces and sunflowers to prepare for planting
A Winter Wrap
These past few months were all about preparing for apple season, which means pruning, grafting, top-working, and planting. We planted hundreds of rare apple varieties into the ground and grafted an additional 500 trees or so. We’ve top-worked some of the “blah” varieties into fantastic varieties that will be great for both packing and cider. For example, a golden delicious tree was transformed into a Yarlington Mill tree through a mature tree grafting process known as top-working. In just a few years, we’ll taste the fruit from our 100+ varieties of apples. We’re excited to announce that we’re among the first farmers in the bay area to commercially grow these rare French, English, and traditional American apple varieties!
One of the many grafting days
For Stan Devoto, orchard man, planting a new orchard is like the birth of a child, seriously exciting.
We started leasing an additional 11 acres of apples and were able to hire 3 full-time and one part-time employee to help get the trees into tip-top shape. All the trees are planted on semi-dwarf rootstock, which we like, and the orchard contains many Jonagolds, Gravensteins, Granny Smith, and Fuji’s. Since these apples had previously been grown for processing, we pruned them very aggressively when we acquired the orchard about a month ago. The idea is to space the buds out evenly so the branches aren’t laden with fruit, and to clip away the scraggly branches so enough sunlight can penetrate through the branches.
All of our trees deserve a big ‘haircut’
Sipping on Cider
Things on the cider front are going so well! We cannot meet the demand for our cider. This upcoming season, we’ll be making about 5,000 cases of all different kinds of ciders made with our heirloom apples. We love our “Save the Gravenstein,” a juicy California-style cider, and we’re also exploring all types of ciders made with different apples. Our “Save the Gravenstein” original is still available directly from us at the Saturday Ferry Building Farmers Market, soon Berkeley Farmers Market, and various other locations. Our “Save the Gravenstein” raspberry is drier than the original and reviewed in the SF Chronicle as “Bringing to mind Lambic.” Get them while you still can!
Delicious cider for springtime
Cider Makers Rescue Backyard Apples
We’re also preparing to facilitate a wonderful backyard apple rescue project, called “Backyard Cider”, which will be a community cider blend made with local residents’ backyard apples, and 100% of the profits from this batch will be donated to Slow Food Russian River. We appreciate Slow Food Russian River’s dedication to help “Save the Gravensteins” and the Sonoma County Apple industry in general.
I’m proud to say that we helped make charitable winter events a huge success by pouring at events benefitting women with cancer and autistic children. We love our Sebastopol community.
Beautiful Sebastopol straight ahead
Green Thumb Gals
It’s strange that the winter is the time of year when we have the most fun in the dirt, because we’re not too busy selling our products on a daily basis. In our free time, we love taking care of and cultivating succulents of all different shapes and colors. We even planted an old-railroad log that had been sitting up near the barn for 40 years, so it was naturally hallowed out for us to plant our succulents into! The succulent logs are priceless to us. With that said, get your hands in the dirt.
These bountiful succulent logs are priceless to us
Lots of love,
The Devoto Wade Clan