Little Eden

In the center of Shimosuwa (Nagano Prefecture), they are keeping a plot, surrounded by the town. As a matter of fact, when crouching or lying under the trees, one can feel in Eden. Mr. Hanaoka takes care of these few venerable trees. While I come from Normandy, I had never seen such large branches. Clover grows on the soil for microbial balance, rice straw, apple tree charcoal powder and oyster shell powder for mineral balance. A whitewash applied on the trunk protects it from the scorch of summer sun.

Suspended in branches, there are 1500 fruits in the 100-year old tree, and about 1300 in the 60-year old one! They represent the past however: too difficult to pick fruits, to manage the heterogeneity in ripening. Close by, we can see the present and future: Japanese grafts (or scions) on European rootstocks (from Holland, Italy or France), aligned in rows, forming vertical surfaces. The tree will stay small (meaning an easier job), but fruit production will decline after 20 about years. Meanwhile, what a feast of beautiful apples: Akibane, Hirosaki Fuji, Shinano Sweet. Mrs Hanaoka was welcoming us for a picnic ending with apple flavors.

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