How To Graft

IMG_1300Apple grafting requires knowledge, skill and patience. And like all worthwhile skills, it’s best to do some study. Any special techniques that you can learn from an expert helps.  And that sums up the study guide for the apple grafting session held at the Austin Dam for the Project Based Learning students from the Austin Area High School. Sean McKeone from McKeone Orchard & Nursery in North Hollow led the group activities which resulted in 14 heritage apple trees being grafted to benefit the Austin Dam Apple Tuck and Heritage Orchard. Sean’s main point, “Paying attention on little details increases the chance of success on the grafting”.

Here’s a list of apple scion wood (grafting sticks) grafted onto rootstock during the activities: Rusty Coat, Maiden Blush, Chenango Strawberry, Twenty-ounce, Early Joe, Sweet Caroline, Yellow Bellflower and Tioga. Of local interest were the following heritage varieties; Seneca Portage, Cora Brooks, Indian Creek and Pliny the Magnificent.  Scions of special interest included the Flower of Kent (the Sir Isaac Newton apple) and the Johnny Appleseed tree from Nova Ohio.

IMG_5867In the Austin Dam Apple Tuck, there now grows a piece of scion wood that is a descendant of the Flower of Kent which grew in Isaac Newton’s garden at Cambridge. Erroneously shown with an apple of the “Red Delicious” variety, Newton’s apple is actually a green cooking apple. In the Austin Dam Apple Tuck, Sean removed the top on a Red Delicious rootstock seedling to graft Newton’s apple. So in a way, this graft symbolically straightens out some incorrect apple history.

In case you were wondering – yes, there was a Johnny Appleseed. And the last known living apple tree planted by John Chapman, or Johnny Appleseed, still produces a good crop of tart, red-striped apples each fall. Growing on the farm of Dick and Phyllis Algeo near Nova, Ohio, the 170-year-old tree has long been a proud member of the family, which still has four generations living on the farm.

In the early 19th century, Chapman, by trade a nurseryman, wandered throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana planting apple trees, as well as mediating between white settlers and Native Americans and spreading an appreciation for nature. And from that tree in Nova, Ohio, the living legacy of famed orchard man John Chapman now grows as scion wood in the Austin Dam Apple Tuck.

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Jars of Tools

IMG_5821Can you identify these seeds? They are some of our favorite cover crops. Here’s a hint list. Can you match the seed with the picture above?

  1. Buckwheat
  2. Daikon Radish
  3. Crimson Clover
  4. Hard Red Spring Wheat

Why use cover crops? Here are the benefits of cover crops, in general.

  • Weed Suppression
  • Erosion Control
  • Attracts Beneficial Insects
  • Builds Soil Organic Matter
  • Increases Moisture Holding Capacity
  • Improve Soil Quality

However, each cover crop can have a specialized use. Perhaps you can think of these jars like farmer tools that can be used to fix and maintain the soil. Can you match these uses with the seeds listed above?

  1. “Bio Drills” tap roots mine up soil nutrients and break up compacted soil.
  2. “Solar Soil Charger” adds nitrogen to the soil.
  3. “Speedy Ground Cover” that is a weed suppressor and phosphorus scavenger.
  4. “Sweet Nutty Berries” that are incredibly appealing on the farmer’s table.



Left to Right: Hard Red Spring Wheat are “My Sweet Nutty Berries”, Crimson Clover is “My Solar Soil Charger”, Daikon Radish are “My Bio Drills” and Buckwheat is “My Speedy Ground Cover”. Not-shown: White Mustard is “My Bio Fumigant and Allelopathic Weed Eater”

Thanks for playing along.

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A Winter Hardy Hello

The fall-planted garlic just needed a few seasonally warm days to get growing. Any green on the brown landscape is a welcome sight.

We’ll try to get it to flower and produce some seeds this year. How does one get garlic to make seeds?  Hard neck garlic reproduces itself in three ways, bulb division, bulbils from topsets and Garlic True Seed .


Our garlics are rarities said to be brought here from the old world by immigrants. We hope that our garlic strains are still capable of producing seeds.  It’s important that subsequent generations of garlic retain this sustainable trait and for growers to shift back toward some garlic seed production.

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A Beautiful Day

A cold March day suddenly changes when kindness touches it!  Needless to say, this made our day.



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TPS Growers Web

We need thousands of gardeners growing potato starting with botanical seed!

TPS In The Mail

TPS In The Mail

And thanks to the Kenosha Potato Project, tracking results and sharing information is a whole lot easier. Each member is encouraged to not only  share and grow the True Potato Seeds (TPS), but most importantly the results of their TPS grow outs at the various geographical locations, growing conditions and growing methods. Working though this collective with shared information, the group is sure to gain much more knowledge and “know-how” about sustainable potato horticulture.

TPS Sent and Received

TPS Sent and Received

Example in point, shown here are some of the Russian Banana TPS that ordinated here in Potter County, Pennsylvania. These seeds were sent via the Kenosha Potato Project to a group member near Cincinnati, Ohio.  So, as we grow out TPS, here on our farm in North Central Pennsylvania, we can share results with the Ohio grower. This shared information will benefit the entire group, as we are able to learn more about the TPS  than only working as an individual farm.

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Simply The Best

004Our Rose Finn Apple fingerling potatoes are available at Costa’s Food Store in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. These potatoes were grown locally on our organic farm.

They’re simply the best, better than all the rest.

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8 Food Miles

006Local organic fingerling potatoes are readied for delivery to Costa’s Food Store in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Food miles refer to the distance food travels from farm to consumer. For this food delivery, we have 8 Food Miles to travel.

Varieties of potatoes grown in Potter County, Pennsylvania are different from those you mostly find in the grocery stores. The flavor of our fingerling potatoes is nutty with earthy undertones that develop when cooked with a unique flavor better than the varieties that are normally found in the grocery store. Most of the commercially produced potatoes are grown on large farms in the mid-west and in Idaho. For those Idaho potatoes, the food miles are 2200 or more. Compared to that distance, our potatoes are grown a stone’s throw away from your table.

Food Miles


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