Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

Meet a Member: Seymour Mills

January 16, 2001

 

I first got serious about raising fruit trees in the spring of 1998 when I made an order from Bear Creek Nursery.  I’m very disappointed to see them go out of business.  I have also ordered form St. Lawrence, Fedco, and Oikes.  I am experimenting with some oaks, silver maple, mulberries, walnuts, and hazelnuts.  It’s far too soon to know what I will be successful with.  Last winter with no snow until nearly Christmas and still no snow to speak of this year (November 30) creates a real test.  I transplanted some trees at the beginning of October last year (1999).  Some came out of pots and some were dug and replanted after growing for two years in my garden.  I lost 25% over the winter.

In the fall I place everything in pots in a trench and fill dirt around them for the winter, then take them out in the spring.  My first trees were set out in my garden in a 3 foot grid in typlar road fabric.  Since then I plant new trees in black plastic plant bags and set these on top of black typlar.  I leave the soil down about 2 inches and fill the top with cut grass or weeds.

By using year old, partially composted manure/animal bedding and watering  with pigeon manure tea, the earthworms do well. The few tiny worms in the soil fattened up and started really reproducing once I started using plenty of manure/bedding a few years ago.  After the first year of a heavy application, cauliflower no longer died from root maggots.  I still have a few root maggots in the roots, but the cauliflower produces heads and does fine.  Much of the chemical nitrogen fertilizer will kill earthworms.  One variety used to be advertised specifically to kill earthworms on golf courses.  From what I’ve been reading the past two years, even the super phosphates can be deadly to worms.

I’m going to be planting more clover this spring.  Sweet clover will be one I definitely plant because it has the longest tap roots to bring up minerals and convert them to an organic form.  All of my area was once covered by glaciers, which ground up all varieties of rocks and left the mineral remains too deep for most plants to utilize.  Sweet clover brings minerals up to where other plants can use them.  Studies of the Hunza people near India, who had long lifespans, used glacial water high in minerals for their agriculture.  There is information other places that claim Alzheimer’s is a mineral deficiency.  I can’t even find the word [Alzheimer’s] in my large 1971 Webster Dictionary.  Over 50 years ago there were warnings about the depletion of minerals in our soil.  We are what we eat.  If minerals are not in the proper form, they are not utilized by either plants or animals.

Many people worry about chemicals in their food from sprays, but how many consider the lack of nutrients in the soil beyond nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus?  Or what is lost through pasteurization and homogenization of milk, cheese, & yogurt?  French farmers are very upset about this for their cheese making.  I’ll continue to drink raw milk, thank you!

 

Seymour lives in Sterling, Alaska, and raises goats and chickens along with his garden and orchard.