At Le Manhattan Bistro in downtown Wilkes-Barre, we are proud to feature locally grown fruits and vegetables, including from the family farm of our general manager, Patrick DeRojas. Before Chef Jonathan Minor can transform this fresh produce into a delicious and nutritious meal, Patrick has farm chores galore. Though it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to manage a farm and restaurant, the smile on the customer’s face makes it worth all the while.
We asked Patrick what kind of work he’s expected to do on the farm in late winter and early spring. Here is his response:
Starting in mid-February, while the fruit trees (apples, peaches, pear, and plum), blueberry bushes, and raspberries are still dormant, and after the risk of injury from extreme cold and winter conditions has passed, this is the ideal time to prune any dead, diseased, or overcrowding branches. Ultimately, the goal of pruning is to increase light and wind infiltration. Why is this important? Prolonged wet vegetation is one of the main causes of diseases in plants. Luckily, pruning is an organic method which increases the ability of the sun and wind to infiltrate through the vegetation, which helps the plant to dry quicker. Therefore, pruning naturally reduces the risk for diseases while improving the health of the earth and the consumer. Furthermore, pruning results in an increase in sunlight helping to improve the quality, especially the color of the fruit.
There are other reasons this is the ideal time of year to prune. For instance, the nutrients in dormant trees are safely stored underground in the roots. So if you prune a dormant tree, you do not have to worry that you are simultaneously removing nutrients.
Once a pruned fruit tree breaks dormancy, there is going to be an abundance of nutrients to feed less vegetation, less branches, and less fruit. As a result, the remaining fruit will be larger, healthier, and tastier. By April 1, I try to have all the apple, peach, pear, plum, blueberries, and raspberries pruned. Throughout April, the work transitions from fertilizing, and mulching the different fruit plantings to planting onions and more.
We will have to cover these in some upcoming blogs, so stay tuned!
The fresh food you eat from a local farm can bring to the table so much charm. The work the farmer does in early spring will make you feel like a French king, especially when you take a seat at Le Manhattan Bistro. Reserve your table today!