The soil is the heart of the orchard. All the nutriments the trees need comes from the soil, these nutriments are made available by soil microbes. The microbes use organic matter and minerals in the soil as their food and their byproducts are what all plants consume as "food". This is the process that keeps our trees making all that good fruit. Every management activity we do is designed to support this process.
The cuttings from pruning are left in the orchard and ground up so they may break down back into the soil supplying organic matter to the microbes. Encouraging natural soil building by mowing the grass and legume cover crop on the orchard floor creates mulch which is composted in place thus being made available to the life in the soil. The ground vegetation is incorporated into the soil by worms and water from our sprinklers. Wood chips, made from the larger pruned limbs, are used under new trees after they are planted in the spring. This helps keep down competition with grasses and hold moisture around the young tree roots. The orchard soil organic matter levels, as shown by our most recent soil test, have gone from 1% to 7% in ten years.