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Apples love bones

Newton's apple treeThe most vivid part of the entire book is a quote from a nineteenth century text about apples and bones.  Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, was buried with his wife beside a large apple tree.  The tree was attracted to his bones and sent a root from his skull, down his backbone to the hips, then divided in two to trace each leg.  The root bent at the knees and formed a man-like shape, in the process digesting every bit of Roger Williams' body.

From this anecdote, Michael Phillips determined that apple trees like bones.  In fact, calcium is a limiting factor in the trees' fruit production, just as it is for tomatoes.  If the proportions of calcium, magnesium, and potassium aren't just right in the soil, the apple tree may not be able to suck up enough calcium and the fruits will develop bitter pit.

Poultry bones are, in fact, one of the few waste products that shouldn't be a waste product on our farm.  I turn carcasses into rich stocks, but the stewed bones are no longer safe for Lucy to consume, so we carefully bury them out of her reach.  Given apple trees' need for calcium, we've started putting those carcass pits around our young apple trees in hope that the trees roots will find the bones and suck up the precious calcium.  Maybe someday we'll dig up the apple roots and find them curled into the shape of a bird.

More interested in living chickens?  Make your birds a homemade chicken waterer.

This post is part of our Growing Organic Apples lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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comment 1
That story reminds me of an article I wrote not long ago about green burials. I can think of no better burial than to be set down in a plain wooden or cardboard box and to have a tree planted on top of the grave. This would ideally happen on my own property, which I would have spent many years working on, and would have passed down to my children. No embalming fluids would be used, or anything that would contaminate the ground. My children and grand children could sit under that tree and know I was a part of it, literally and figuratively - practically and spiritually. Here's the article: .
Comment by Everett Wed Dec 30 11:22:33 2009
comment 2
I totally agree! Now and then I poke around on the web, trying to figure out the legalities of green burial on my own land, then I get sidetracked into more pressing matters. Sometime in the next seventy years, I really have to check it out. :-)
Comment by anna Wed Dec 30 19:52:09 2009

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime