Welcome! Log In Create A New Account


encouraging conversation

Posted by Michael Phillips 
encouraging conversation
February 25, 2018 08:10PM
Let's talk about why the majority of participants in this forum never actually chime in. Whether this has to do with feeling daunted in the face of ongoing discussion or simply questioning that what you have to share is worthy. Perhaps the biggest factor of all is checking in on a somewhat regular basis.

I just answered a post about blueberry spray timing which any focused grower of berries could have answered far better than me. I did this because I noticed that even though several dozen folks have looked at this post to date . . . no one had chosen to answer another grower's fairly simple question. Too bad. The expectation in this forum that a relative few of us will do all the answering fails. A guy like me wants to continue to learn and be challenged too! Network members recently had an engaging conversation about this in the Member's Corner where the question of how to shift that 30:1 lurker-to-contributor ratio came up. Those of you who have forum accounts but have never considered sending along financial support to help cover costs won't be able to see that conversation. No worries as that's not the intent here. Rather, let's speak to why growers brought into this forum -- PERHAPS YOU! -- rarely if ever step to the plate.

All of us have our hands in the same earth. We all know "something" to one degree or another. We all share a love of trees and green plants. Addressing basic horticulture with words shaped by direct experience helps other learn. Subjective results rate right up there with reductionist science in my book. Intuit and intuit again! Sometimes refining a question is all it takes to kick another grower's thinking cap into gear. Proposing out-of-the-box thinking is a beautiful thing to do. Embracing a healthy focus surely takes us into uncharted territory. Simply having fun can indeed be the point.

But enough from me . . . what say you?

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: encouraging conversation
February 27, 2018 10:38PM
Michael, I will answer this question based on my own opinion on why some of us do not respond to questions. Keep in mind, I know nothing about growing blueberries and my response has nothing to do with blueberries.

First off, I consider myself a beginning grower, having only been growing organic apples for the last 6 years. In addition I am "fairly" young, and the combination of being both young and not having as much experience as others may have makes me hesitant to give someone an answer. I do feel I have knowledge to share with people based on my experience but I am often hesitant to share in fear of being wrong.

On top of the above mentioned, there sometimes seems to be the opinion that there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to do things organically in the orchard - this is based on science and a persons past experience. Yet, the opinion that there is a right and a wrong way of managing organically can seem daunting to a less experienced grower because they may not understand all of the lingo being used or that all things orchard related are not common knowledge. I have not experienced anyone on this site being nasty or demeaning - in fact just the opposite, but I still am a bit shy in responding in fear of looking like I have knowledge in the subject matter.

Lastly, lack of time - I honestly would love to look at all the questions on this forum because I think just reading through the questions and answers could greatly advance me in my endeavors - but the fact is that I just currently do not have a lot of extra time (or maybe I just need to re-focus my time).

These are my 2 cents worth.
Re: encouraging conversation
February 28, 2018 02:45PM
Much appreciated, John. What we're doing here is encouraging each and all to understand their input is worthy.

Some of the threads on this forum rock with the right next question and solid insights backed by experience. I've started posts about topics that are cutting edge (at least to me!) as well as about challenges that confound me. Posts that aren't my forte or hold less interest are there for others to answer. No one needs to say "something" in order to merely fill a void. Yet when the excitement is there . . . I want everyone to feel empowered to go for it.

You spoke to that fairly common fear of being wrong or going against the flow. That's why I always try to emphasize that out-of-the-box thinking and intuition are welcome in this forum. We're learning together. Anyone who's ever reads the endnotes in my books knows that I issue FULL SPECULATION ALERTS. Stepping out of one's comfort zone is how we forward the orchard learning curve. Not every discussion is going to be "advanced" but it sure does get lively when we go a bit deeper. And I meant it when I said a new voice might be the one to better articulate a basic horticulture concept. There's so many angles on the dangle.

This thread is here for others to break loose too, if that helps.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2019 04:21PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: encouraging conversation
February 28, 2018 06:22PM
A quick second to the above: Thank you, John, for exactly articulating my thoughts on this matter before I managed to sit down and type them. I agree with you 100%.

And thank you, Michael for reassuring us that our "newbie" input could still be valuable. The fear of judgement is real. I will try to overcome my anxiety and contribute more often to those topics which I have some insight. We are indeed all learning together and are stronger as such.

Door Creek Orchard
Zone 5a in Wisconsin
Re: encouraging conversation
March 01, 2018 01:39AM
Reading this thread reminded me of the "truck stuck in the tunnel" story . . . pulled from the recollections of A Grandfather's Blog of Lessons Learned by Harry Parkhurst

An eighteen-wheeler tank truck was stuck in a tunnel under the river between New Jersey and New York City. As you can imagine traffic backed up for miles in the busy tunnel and a normal half hour trip to the city ended being three hours long. It didn't take long for tempers to flare and angry words to pass back and forth between drivers.

Expert engineers and traffic officials rushed to the scene to solve the problem. Try as they might no one could think of a solution and engineers and traffic officials felt baffled. The long truck couldn't be backed out and cutting down the truck wouldn't work either because the truck carried flammable chemicals.

A single lane of slow moving traffic passed the wedged truck and the frustrated officials and engineers. Dozens of officers directed irate drivers around the truck and the swirling lights on the police and emergency cars strobed and flashed incessantly. At the same time two-way radios blared and squawked creating an awful din. As an old rusted pick-up truck inched by a little girl of eight or nine leaned out the truck's window.

"Let the air out of the tires," she yelled in a loud voice. "Let the air out of the tires." And then she sat back as the old truck putted away.

One of the engineers heard her and with the help of several traffic officials let the air out of the truck's tires. Fifteen minutes later the truck made its slow way through the tunnel and out the other side. A seemingly impossible situation found a solution because someone listened to a young person.


Young people are often dismissed because they are assumed to know very little, just as people who do not have credentials, or dozens of years of experience are discounted too . . . As a parent, I often find that young children can have some of the clearest perspectives of all . . . so why wouldn't young (i.e., Newer) growers not have the same going for them???

Those of us here make up the HON and by merely taking the personal oath to delve deeper into the holistic world to be had in our orchards automatically makes each and everyone of us the potential finder (and sharer) of the seemingly impossible to another one (or many) of us . . . just like the young girl in the rusted old pickup truck in the story above, we each have remarkable and clear insight that comes to us from time to time in our seasonal connections . . . sometimes on the very first try at something new in our orchards . . . now we just need to share some of it, when the opportunity presents itself, perhaps with just a quick and helpful shout out as you are driving by

I have had some amazing things come to mind, from time to time, while working with my trees and I have more than once taken a quick look around for someone to share it with . . . only to realize that I am alone at that moment, but I also need to remember that with the HON none of us are truly alone . . . cause we are proudly in this holistic alliance together and a virtual friend is never far away

Cheers to future contributions!

Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California
Re: encouraging conversation
March 04, 2018 11:03PM
As someone in his early 30s (OK, mid 30s), which seems to be the infancy of an apple grower's lifetime, I'd also echo everything John and Liz mentioned. And though I don't presume to speak for the other 29 lurkers that aren't posting very often, I'm wondering how many folks have started exploring growing apples (prospective commercial cidermakers, perhaps?) without fully realizing the amount of effort and resources involved to get the dream off the ground. I've been growing apple trees for a handful of years now, and in that same period I've met a buncha folks that showed a good deal of interest to similarly get involved slowly walk away. In some cases other commitments took over, they lost interest, they didn't have the money (or the land), all their grafts failed, or any number of other reasons.

I'm wondering if there'd be any utility in a short survey (and pardon my ignorance if this has been done before) to members of the forum to get a sense of their current situation. You've got the grower profile page, but that's an extra degree of voluntary compared to a short survey. I also have no idea how heavy a lift that would be, and whether the juice is worth the squeeze, so to speak. In any case, I'll try to pipe in more than I have!

-Jeff Harner
Zone 6-7
Cumberland, MD (around 2,000') and Takoma Park, MD (around 300')
Re: encouraging conversation
January 14, 2019 11:20PM
This question has percolated in the back of my mind, and I realized there is an important distinction at HON - in my mind at least.

Michael and so many others here on HON have been wonderful stewards, welcoming amateurs and professionals alike. It's really appreciated by the community / back-yard orchardists among us! (If I can presume to speak for other lurkers.)

At the same time, I really respect that so many HON members make their livelihood from orchards. I often lurk not so much for fear of being a 'newbie' and saying something dumb (I've long ago owned that, for better or worse), but more that I don't want my hobbyists interests to waste time - nor soak up digital real estate - on a platform that presumably many HON members use for commercial & livelihood purposes. In other words, I'm happy to have the privilege to lurk & soak up knowledge from HON members who live by growing fruit.

Not sure if other 'newbies' or hobbyists feel the same. And maybe I'm misunderstanding HON's purpose. But if any of that rings true for others, I wonder if it would help to have icons/labels marking each poster's context (i.e., hobbyist or commercial)...making it perhaps easier for each group to skim through one or the other's posts. And it might (perhaps) encourage newbie posts. Anyways - just an idea, fwiw.

(And of course, having been on enough misc. committees, I am loathe to make any suggestion that I can't help implement, so apologies on that front! ; )

Zone 7a in West-Central MD
Re: encouraging conversation
January 17, 2019 09:44AM
Great question! What I think I share with all those who post on this forum is a passion for growing plants, fruit especially, and apples most of all. I discovered "The Apple Grower" in 2009, the year we planted our first 40 trees, a mix of apple, pear, plum, peach, and cherry. It started a holistic journey that is enhanced by the wisdom and experience found in the posts on this forum. A hobby is turning into a small commercial endeavor with apple sales the past 2 seasons. With less than 10 years experience, and an intuitive rather than a scientific way of thinking, I read far more posts than I comment on, I still feel like a newbie and ask more questions than I can answer. I'm almost 60, so I visit the forum and search for info I may have forgotten and re-read posts. I'm sure I've added to the "views" counts! As my own orchard experience grows, I will certainly post more frequently when I can. Thanks to all for contributing to this valuable resource!

Vista Ridge Orchard
Zone 8a in Washington
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login