Growing Practices

Tuttle’s strives to grow the highest quality healthy produce for you and your family. Many ask how we grow such high quality plants and produce, so here we hope to answer some of your questions.

Pioneering new practices…

At Tuttles, we are looking into what the research is showing as the newer and better ways to grow produce and plants. Currently, we are pioneering in the area of high tunnel crops…using them to extend the season of our tomatoes crops.

FAQ’s…about our growing practices:

How many acres of apples and vegetables do you grow?

Currently, we have about thirty acres of apples, thirty acres of vegetables, and 10,000 square feet of greenhouse space.

How many varieties of apples do you grow?

We currently grow twenty three varieties of apples.

How do you have tomatoes ripe so early in the season?

We are able to have Indiana grown tomatoes by the first part of June through our work with high tunnel greenhouses.

How do you grow your flowers in the greenhouses?

See the planting process that happens each spring in our greenhouses. 

Is your apple cider pasteurized?

Yes, we use an ultraviolet light form of pasteurization to process our cider for your protection.

Are your apples grown organically?

No, we grow our apples sustainably, but we are not organic. We use the integrated pest management system (IPM) here at the orchard to care for our plants and trees. Read more below.

Tuttle’s Apples & Organics: Why Tuttle’s apples aren’t grown organically.

Here at Tuttles our apples are not grown organically. Organic refers to growing produce without the use of genetically modified organisms or synthetic pesticides. There are three main reasons why we don’t grow our apples to be labeled organic.

Location

The warm, wet weather conditions with frequent rains during our growing season here in the Midwest are ideal for growing crops; however, they are also ideal for the growth of insects, diseases, and weeds. Because of our Indiana climate, growing saleable quality organic apples in a large setting is almost impossible. There are also some very dangerous fungi and bacteria such as fire blight that can affect and often kill the trees. Organically grown apples in the grocery store most often come from dry aired climates where disease and insects are much less and trees are often watered through irrigation. They are often shipped long distances loosing some of their nutritional value.

At Tuttle’s we work within our Indiana climate to use sustainable, healthy growing practices. Our trees are sprayed with carefully tested, approved fungicides and insecticides several times over the growing season. However, we do our best to reduce our use of chemicals as much as possible and spray only when necessary…especially since they are very expensive. It is important to recognize that organic apples are also sprayed with copper or lime sulfur to protect the trees and apples. Many of the pesticides we use are a synthetic form of copper.

Quantity

Here at the orchard, we have about thirty acres of apple trees…that’s exactly 4303 trees. It can take a lot of time to care for each tree. In the world of growing organic apples, there are practices that may be practical to apply in your backyard garden which are not possible when you have over 4000 trees. For example, some pests can be trapped or manually removed from the tree to prevent them from damaging the fruit. However, it’s just not practical for us to pull bugs off trees all day long. Instead, we use an integrated pest management system which is a combination of cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical controls to keep pests at bay. For example, to control the red spider mites that like to attack the trees and suck juices from the leaves, we find that they have many natural predators like ladybugs, lacewings, and other mites. We also try to use chemicals that don’t kill these natural predators, but encourage them to kill the harmful mites. All of our apples are safe to eat right from the tree. Any chemicals that are used have been applied early in the season and have broken down to a safe level prescribed by the manufacturer before you pick them in the fall.

Quality

Apples grown organically on a large scale in Indiana tend to have a very poor quality. They might be suitable for processing, but would not be apples you would want to purchase for eating. Here at Tuttle’s our goal is to grow high quality apples that families can enjoying picking and eating right from the tree, and we think we’ve succeeded. We follow all government regulations and suggested practices to ensure that when you’re enjoying that fresh picked apple you are eating a healthy, safe fall treat.

What is Integrated Pest Management System?

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management defines IPM as: “a system that focuses on reducing pests by using a series of pest management techniques that are safe for the environment and children and use both non-chemical and chemical methods.” In following IPM practices, we use a combination of biological, chemical, behavioral, cultural, and genetic factors to control pests in the orchard. In using IPM, spraying is not our primary or only method of eliminating bugs and other pests. Instead we use things like sampling plant nutrition, planting more disease resistant varieties, using natural predictors to control pests, and others to control pests. A great deal of research has been done by Purdue University and other universities in the country to develop safe, good growing practices that can bring a balance to controlling pests through chemicals and other methods. We also use these same practices in our vegetable and greenhouse crops.

How do you have tomatoes ripe so early in the season?

We are able to have Indiana grown tomatoes by the first part of June through our work with high tunnel greenhouses.  These greenhouses allow us to plant tomatoes in the ground in early spring and then add a heater to prevent frost.

How many varieties of apples do you grow?

We currently grow  about twenty eight varieties of apples.

How many acres of apples and vegetables do you grow?

Currently, we have about thirty acres of apples, thirty acres of vegetables, and 10,000 square feet of greenhouse space.