The Holistic Orchard
If you're thinking about growing fruit trees and berries organically, The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011, $39.95) will provide you not only with specific information on growing a wide variety of fruit plants, but with a holistic understanding of the orchard ecosystem and how to manage it to keep plants thriving without chemical pesticides. Phillips explains his concept of health-based orchard dynamics as "stewarding what needs to be right while intelligently setting limits on what might go wrong." Ample color photographs and clear illustrations and diagrams enhance the text. Also covered are the connections between home orcharding and permaculture, including using shade-tolerant berry bushes and plants that benefit native pollinators as understory plantings in orchards. You'll also find information on soil building, planting, pruning, and harvesting. A reference you'll return to again and again, this excellent book is a worthwhile investment for anyone interested in sustainable fruit growing.
Pear Trellis Rust
Many gardeners are familiar with cedar apple rust, a disease with a complex, two-host life cycle that alternates between apples, including crabapples, and certain species of juniper, including native eastern red cedar. Now it appears that both ornamental and fruiting pears are at risk from a related disease that is new to New England. Called pear trellis rust, it also requires two hosts to complete its life cycle, with many species of juniper serving as an alternate host with pears. This disease is common in Europe and has been present in western Canada since the 1960s and the Pacific Northwest since the late 1990s. But it has worked its way east, reaching southeastern New York State in 2011 and Connecticut in 2012, and is likely to spread to other parts of New England in time. For more on this new threat, check out Pear Trellis Rust from UConn Extension, which contains information on the identification and management of this new disease, including color pictures of symptoms.