Reading Material

Thought I’d make note of some useful reading material. 

Cider by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols contains a lot of useful information on a broad range of topics, from selecting varieties and rootstocks to press construction and various fermentation techniques.  It’s the Annie Proulx of The Shipping News and Close Range; I’ve enjoyed her fiction so it’s cool to know that she’s into cider as well.

I got The Apple Grower by Michael Phillips for my birthday last spring.  He’s a guy from up in northern New Hampshire who is creating the beautifully-named organic Lost Nation Orchard in Northumberland, up north of the White Mountains.  In pictures he looks awesome, like some kind of pomological elf, and his writing is compressed and maybe a bit scattered, with a tendency to edge into the supernatural, but the book is packed full of hard-won knowledge about growing organic apples, which is considered the final frontier of organics, especially in wet climates where pests and disease predominate.

The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman has next to nothing to say about apples, but it has a lot of useful basic information about organic growing technique, and an encouraging, innovative attitude.  Maybe even a bit too encouraging – it reminds me a bit of John Gardner, whose Building Classic Small Craft and other books of plans and comentary can leave the unsuspecting reader with a firm sense that building a classic wooden boat is among the most sensible activities possible.  Coleman is at least straightforward about the economics: $8000 per acre per year of gross revenue from intensive vegetable gardening, $2000 per acre per year of expenses not including the cost of land, and a practical maximum of 2.5 acres to be cultivated by one person, or $15,ooo/annum for all that hard work.  This is why I aspire to be a gentleman farmer rather than a real one, and why I am still an engineer.


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