"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Saturday, September 4, 2010

An Apple A Day

Yellow Transparent ↑ “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther

Well it has been a long time coming but after planting some of our first 3-4 year old semi-dwarf apple trees a few years back we are just now finally reaping the rewards of our first real apple harvest. It will be so nice to use some of our very own apples rather than having to rely on foraging the wild forgotten orchards for them...although we will be doing that again this year too.

We started planting apple trees in 2007 and every year thereafter have added more trees to our collection, all told we now have 18 different varieties of the semi dwarf, of which four produced fruits for us this year, and many other standard varieties that I have grown from seed.

If I could go back in time the very first thing I would do before even thinking of starting any type of garden is to first focus on the planting of fruit & nut trees and berry bushes as many of them take so very long to begin producing.

Akane - An excellent tart flavored dessert and juice apple that is supposed to store well.

Spitzenburg (I think, we might have mixed this one up with our Wagener apple?) - Very sweet, and a good eating apple. Some of these were falling off the tree ripe so we picked a few ripe and unripe ones and I canned up some deliciously tart apple sauce...and Mrs. H baked a few turnovers of course.:)

Someday, as and old man, perhaps good fortune will find me sitting under one of these same trees drinking a pint of hard cider and fondly reminiscing about the adventures of my youth.:)


MikeH said...

If I could go back in time the very first thing I would do before even thinking of starting any type of garden is to first focus on the planting of fruit & nut trees and berry bushes as many of them take so very long to begin producing.

We were lucky. We focused on the orchard first and saw the first fruits this summer.

What types of nut trees are you growing?

Annie's Granny said...

"Someday, as and old man, perhaps good fortune will find me sitting under one of these same trees drinking a pint of hard cider and fondly reminiscing about the adventures of my youth.:)

Don't count on it. You'll be just like me....too darned busy in the garden to find time to sit and reminisce!

Mr. H. said...

Mike - We have hazelnuts, black & English walnuts, and chestnuts. They are all very young trees and bushes but we did get our first hazel nut this year...just one though.:)

Annie's Granny - I hope so Granny, I really do.

Ayak said...

Oh those apples look just wonderful. I only managed one small apple from a young tree this year. I'm hoping there will be an improvement next year!

Anonymous said...

Funnily, I was just about to send Mrs. H an email about my forgotten about apple tree find when I read your post. I don't know what kind they are, but the ones I found look something like a Ranier cherry and just a little bigger. They are deliciously sweet/tart! I think I will go back today with a bag to collect some more!

Jennifer Jo said...

Those are some GORGEOUS apples!

randi said...

dealing with some serious apple envy here!...we had a couple of 22 degree nights after 90 degree days during a too early blossom time so effectively no pears or apples,(damned few apples even on the old established trees), this year and despite my best efforts covering the peach trees only a couple made it through..I've chosen to consider this year a wash out fruit wise and imagine next year we'll be loaded. But you are so correct in starting right out of the gate with fruits and berries and plenty of them! Things are looking pretty nice out your way Mike.

ThyHandHathProvided said...

What beautiful apples you grew! We are patiently (?) waiting for our apple trees to produce. We planted them about 2-3 years ago- they were only one year old at the time. So we're still waiting. Our hope is that they will provide enough one day so that we don't have to buy apples for our applesauce.

Your apples look so healthy. I'm curious how you care for your trees- any tips to share?:-)

Jessica said...

Congratulations on the harvest!

I love being able to pick food right out of my garden and orchard. Nothing tastes better!


Anne said...

Growing apple trees from seed is a lot of hit and miss... primarily miss as only 1 out of a few thousand produces a palatable apple, which is why propagation of most apples is by means of grafting.

Leigh said...

They're beautiful! I like the idea of new plantings every year to add to your orchard. Our first plantings were last fall, so we have a ways to go.

Mr. H. said...

Ayak - Our trees bared just a couple last year and quite a few this year for such small trees so hopefully yours will follow suit and give you a nice box full next summer.:) Hope you are feeling better.

Paige - Sounds like crab apples, they are really great for all sorts of recipes (think muffins) and we always try to include a few in our apple sauce if we can as they add a nice tartness to it.

Jennifer Jo - Thanks, we are very pleased with them so far, I am excited to see what all of the other ones are like over the next few years. I have never eaten most of the apple varieties we are growing before so it will be interesting to test out the different flavors.

Randi - Too bad about your peach trees, ours somehow managed to survive even though we did not have any snow cover so I am grateful for that...although we did lose one of our apricot trees. I think you will indeed have a really good fruit year this next as it always seems to work that way.

ThyHand - Year six seems to be the one for us but yours might come on earlier as they probably get more sun than ours. The most important thing I do for all of our young fruit trees is make sure they get enough water the first few years so that the roots get well established. Other than that I just let them be for the most part. The ones in the old orchards we visit provide large amounts of bug free apples most years and they are never sprayed, pruned, or anything else...that is pretty much how I hope to treat ours as well.

Jessica - You are so right, a store bought fruit or vegetable is an aberration in comparison to the fine produce that can be had out of ones own garden or orchard.

Anne - It is a hobby/experiment and hopefully a few of the trees I have seeded do provide us with nice apples. In the forgotten orchard link you will see a little apple tree full of red apples that I have watched grow up over the years, it sprouted from seed and the apples that now adorn it are remarkable. I have seen a few young self-seeded trees in the old orchard turn out like this so I do have some hope. Also, I plan on using a few of our seedlings as rootstock over the next few years.

Leigh - The neat thing about planting fruits and berries every year or so is that after the original ones start to produce you can finally get to a point where something new is always coming to fruition.:)

Mike said...

If I could go back in time the very first thing I would do before even thinking of starting any type of garden is to first focus on the planting of fruit & nut trees and berry bushes as many of them take so very long to begin producing.

Excellent wisdom. When we buy or forever home that is going to be the first thing on our list to do. Great blog! Just found it the other day. Lots of interesting content to read and learn from

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
meemsnyc said...

Those apple trees look awesome. How large do semi-dwarf get?

Heiko said...

You are always welcome to sit under one of my mature trees apple, pear, fig or my favourite spot, under the persimmontree and we can chew the cud together my friend. Congrats on the apple harvest.

Naomi said...

What beautiful apples! I wish we could grow the number of varieties you can, but not many do well in the subtropics :)
We need to get stuck into our orchard plantings soon - there is such a long lead time!

Good harvest to you :)

Anonymous said...

Oh I am seriously jealous here! We planted our first apple trees 2 years ago so we have a while to wait yet :-(, so I will just have to live vicariously through your pictures! Enjoy.


WeekendFarmer said...

Amen brother...I can see you under those trees. Save me some non-hard cider : )

Beautiful fruits! What organic method do you use as a pesticide?

One year, I did Neem oil and we got great harvest. This year, I got lazy and got 5 peaches.

I wish I could send you our black walnut trees. I dont want them and I found a gentleman who can mill them for me...but very expensive.

Faith Kolean said...

So impressed! There are apple trees up here but very few and far between.

ThyHandHathProvided said...

Excellent! I was hoping to hear you take the hands-off approach. That's what we're hoping to do, too:-).

Geno said...

picking fruit from abandoned trees is one of our favorite things. We actually have about seven gallons of hard cider ready to bottle from last years harvest. But now that we have moved to Sandpoint the only trees we know of are along the highways, which are not easy with kids. Do you know of any good places up here?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the apple harvest! Any fruit tree is worth the wait until it starts to produce, especially apples. So far we have planted pear, sour cherry, plum and cherry trees, but all our apples trees are very old ones. It looks like apples take the longest until they start to produce.
In a few years you will have so many apples, you won't know what to do with them... (do you know if it is possible to freeze them?)

I don't know the varieties of any of our apple trees, except for Golden Delicious, as it is impossible not to see that yellow color in late fall.

Sense of Home said...

Those apples look so good, I wish I had the space for more fruit trees. We will be begging friends and workmates for apples this year, our parents trees did not do so well with a late spring frost.


Mr. H. said...

Mike - Good for you, it is one of the things I regret not having done early on...time seems to slip by so very quickly.

Meemsnyc - A semi-dwarf apple tree can grow anywhere from 10 - 20' tall depending upon how you prune it and with any luck it is possible, depending upon the variety, to get upwards of 500 apples off it when the tree is mature...or so I've read.:)

Heiko - Thanks for the offer, I think I would pick the persimmon as I have never tried one...I don't think. I bet they would make for an interesting wine though.

Naomi - I was looking up some information the other day on Granny Smith apples and I believe it said they originated in Australia, there were a couple others from Australia too. I hope you do get a chance to grow some of your own.

Susieq - Just another year or two and with any luck yours will be producing too, how fun.:)

WeekendFarmer - We have not used any pesticides on our trees. We seem to be lucky in that the bugs and worms in this area don't seem to do too much damage to the fruits...although we do have a few issues with aphids but they don't do any serious damage.

We do have a couple young black walnut trees to help with pollination for our English walnuts...they should start producing in about 20 years.:)

Faith - I would imagine that your region is a bit on the harsh side even for apples, but you do have the best berries around.

ThyHand - Very interesting, we will have to compare notes in the future.:)

Geno - I have heard that there are lots of old abandoned farms with orchards along the Kootenai river out of Bonners Ferry...but I have never looked. Also, the areas around Naples look like they might be a prime location for some old orchards. I know that there are apple trees in the Bonners game preserve but think they are reserved for the animals.

Vrtlarica - I am sure that I will eventually forget what all of our apple varieties are too. We used to freeze our apple sauce but now we can it in order to save freezer space. I am looking forward to dealing with the problem of too many apples in the future.:)

Brenda - Too bad about the frost, we somehow missed it although one of our really old trees must have been frosted as it has not produced hardly any apples this year.

karl said...

"Someday, as and old man, perhaps good fortune will find me sitting under one of these same trees drinking a pint of hard cider and fondly reminiscing about the adventures of my youth.:)"

That is exactly how I feel about our orchard.

Geno said...

do you just go and start picking from an abandoned orchard or do you try to find permission. We are always rather timid about assuming we can do something like that.

Mr. H. said...

Karl - And if we don't get that chance at least we will have attempted to provide it for those who come in our place.:)

Geno - We are fortunate in that the old orchard we go to in Washington is on state land, unfortunately it has pretty much been ruined by the beavers that have taken up residence there...many of the trees are dying or dead because of all the flooding they have created. If I come across another such place closer to your neck of the woods in the future I will look you up and let you know where it is.

But yes, I would definitely seek out permission if you are not sure if it is on public land or not.

Robbyn said...

Oh, congratulations!!!! I LOVE seeing your bounty...what a garden of Eden you have...LOVE orchard success :)

Heiko said...

I tried making persimmon wine, but no good. I don't particularly like the fruit either. Only use I found for is in "I-can't-believe-it's-not-mango-chutnet chutney". But it's a pretty tree throughout the year.

kitsapFG said...

I wish we had more space on our property that got adequate sun - I would dearly love to have a small fruit orchard. I have a neighbor who shares with us though and I am impatiently waiting for him to invite us over for a picking expedition this year. Your trees have some beautiful fruit on them for having been grown without spraying etc. I need to find an abandoned orchard in our area too.

Mrs. Mac said...

I saw a used rotary type apple peeler over at the Hospice Thrift Shop in PF the other day .. just in case you need one :) I have one that peels, cores, and slices that makes for quick work. Your trees look great! We have about 40 apples this year between our two trees. Next year should be even better. No bugs either (aphids were easy to wash off the tree this summer).

thyme2garden said...

If a semi-dwarf tree can grow to be 10-20 feet tall, then I'm afraid to know how tall non-dwarf trees get! I didn't really realize that fruit trees took so long to start bearing fruit. Your apples look delicious and well worth the wait.

Mr. H. said...

Robbyn - Thanks, the orchard is still a work in progress but someday it will resemble a real orchard...I hope.:)

Heiko - Well, perhaps we will have to sit under an olive tree instead and drink some of your wild cherry ratafia.:)

Laura - Hopefully your neighbors will come through for you. Our trees are a bit too shaded which does slow them down quite a bit but with any luck they will all come around to bearing for us eventually.

Cathy - Thanks for the tip, I will let Micki know about the apple peeler...she stops by that place occasionally. It sounds like your trees have really taken off, they can't be very old yet. How fun to have a nice amount of apples already.

Thyme2garden - I have seen some standard apple and pear trees that are at least 40' tall. Makes for interesting picking.:)

AJK said...

We got a modest harvest from our dwarf apple trees this year! They were bought 3 years ago, moved twice already. We have and Akane and a Beni Shogun Fuji. They are both yummy! Can't wait for a bountiful harvest like yours! We got lots of worms in the young fruit, which we had to discard...bummers.

Chris Brock (under the mulberry tree) said...

Mouthwatering apples! i have an akane and four other varieties planted at our block last winter - 2009. i was amazed at the growth they put on in one summer. I suppose i'll need at least one more summers growth before i get any fruit. We are of the same opinion about establishing trees early - we are moving to be with our apples in a couple of months.

Mr. H. said...

AJK - A Beni Shogun Fuji sounds like an interesting variety. It appears as though your apples are doing really well for being so young...how fun.:)

Chris - I like what you said "moving to be with our apples." When yours start to produce we will have to compare varieties.

Matron said...

It is my dream one day to have enough land to plant a small orchard! My favourite variety is Ellisons Orange.

Mr. H. said...

Matron - I just looked up Ellisons Orange and it really sounds like a nice apple and one that I will keep in mind if the opportunity ever presents. It's truly amazing how many apple varieties there are.

Julia Gaw said...

Hi Mr H,

Great blog you've got here. I have a publishing idea I'd like to run past you – do you have an email address to which I can send a proposal?



Silke said...

Well, Mr. H., I've been catching up on what's been going on in your part of the world and you have been busy as usual!! The apples look wonderful - and tart apple sauce is a delicious treat! While I was at my dad's in Germany, he had a tree filled with ripe Mirabellen plums (small, sweet yellow plums) that I just love. What a great season this is!! I'm glad you are all doing well, Rowdy included. :-) Silke

Amy Manning said...

Thank you for sharing! I've planted 8 apple trees last year as well as numerous other fruit trees and will post reviews on varieties on my blog: www.amysoddities.blogspot.com

Mr. H. said...

Silke - Welcome back.:) Mirabellen plums sound like a really nice fruit.I looked it up and will keep it in mind if I ever run across that variety for sale in our area.

Amy - Sounds like you have a great start on your fruit trees as well, I look forward to hearing your future reviews.

LynnS said...

Mike, are these fruit trees from ordered stock or are these started from seed? I recall that you mentioned starting some from seeds but don't know if you and Micki also planted nursery-stock fruit trees.

And those you are showing are in a woodsy area or a meadow? Do you protect them at rutting season or just hope for the best?

With your own apples plus those you can forage, your home must be smelling pretty good now!

We have to buy all of our apples this year. All of our fruits fell to the ground way ahead of schedule -- drought shuts things down so cleverly.

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

what a lovely informative blog

greetings from Wales UK

Prairie Cat said...

Seeing photos like yours is truly inspiring - I hope to have a fraction of what you do, someday!

Planting an orchard is on the priority list once I graduate and buy some land of my own. I daydream about being able to go out and pick my own fruits, because they are my favorite type of food by far.

Mr. H. said...

Lynn - Most of the apple trees that are are starting to bear fruit for us are ones that we bought from a nursery. We picked up 6 more just this past weekend as they go on sale this time of year...three apples, a pear, and an apricot. I do have a cherry, and a few plum trees grown from seed that are producing well but the apple trees from seed have a ways to grow still...couple more years I suspect.

I put cages around all of the younger trees to keep the deer from eating them...seems to be working good so far.

As to how our house smells, probably like sauerkraut, kimchi, garlic, and onions right now.:)

Greetings John - Thanks for stopping by.:)

Prairie Cat - How exciting to have all of that to look forward to. But yes, don't wait like I did to plant fruit trees, do it as soon as you can.:) Fruits are some of my favorite foods as well.

Julie said...

Planting an apple seed is an act of faith and optimism.

How cool is that ; )

Mr. H. said...

Julie - Faith and optimism, I like that.:)

Elizabeth said...

Wow, apple trees. You are so lucky. We just got back from N. Carolina and we drove into Georgia to our favorite apple orchard and enjoyed devouring a very large bag of apples during our 10 day stay.
Peace and Raw Health,

Mr. H. said...

Elizabeth - It is possible the common apple (organic of course) is one of the the healthiest fruits out there. They just did a study about how an apple a day keeps Alzheimer's away due to the high amounts of the antioxidant quercetin that fresh apples contain. Pretty amazing really.

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