Friday, November 4, 2016

The Apple Trees Get Denuded!

Papa Pea and I harvested all of our apples today, got them sorted and put in the root cellar for winter storage.

And what a perfect day for the task it was.  Our nearly unbelievably, not-right-for-November weather continues.  The temp went over 60° with lots of sunshine.


We have seven varieties of apple trees (Kathryn's Favorite, Honeycrisp, Grimes Golden, Regent, Fireside, Honeygold and Westfield See-No-Further) which gave us varying amounts of apples, but all in all the quantity was fantastic.  Yes, it was a very good apple year.

Many people believe you cannot raise blemish-free apples without using pesticides and other potentially poisonous sprays.  Seems you can.  Our apples were raised without any sprays, mulched with organic compost and watered with adequate amounts of rain.  And we certainly benefited.


Virtually the only apples that had any blemishes were the Honeygolds which is a shame because it's our sweetest (we think) eating apple.  And the one from which we got the largest yield.  (Two boxes of them are in the first picture of this post.)


The Honeycrisps were by far our biggest apples and the second heaviest producer.  We've got several Honeycrisp dwarf trees which we planted last year (besides our larger, older Honeycrisp tree), and they bore their little hearts out this first year.  We planted some Zestar dwarf trees also and I thought one of them had apples on it, but not so.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was another Honeycrisp.


A couple of the other varieties gave us large apples, too.


Even the ones that aren't as big are still beautiful looking fruit.


We sorted through them all before storing in the root cellar and have this many with bird pecks or bad spots in them that I'll have to make into applesauce PDQ.  (Or maybe many apple pies!)

As mentioned above, this weather of ours is enabling us to keep pushing on outside projects much longer than we normally would.  No doubt this is a good thing . . . but criminy!  When does our long, slow, relaxing winter start?


A shot of the fourteen (out of the original fifteen -- we lost one) happy Muscovy ducks we got as little fuzz balls last spring.  They're a laid back bunch just hanging out at the edge of the pond this afternoon, some taking a snooze with their heads tucked under a wing.  We've made the decision which ones will stay as breeding stock and which ones will be
culled.  Getting our chicken butchering done was a big relief, but we've still got the ducks and geese to do.  Soon.


I pointed my camera out into the orchard of our bigger trees.  Look at that green, green grass.  No hard frost yet, warm temps and lots of moisture is keeping it looking and feeling more like September than November. 

33 comments:

Laurie said...

What a sight to behold! Honeycrisps are one of my favorites. How many years after planting did your trees bear fruit?

Vera said...

What a good harvest of apples you had this year. We did well with plums, but not so with our apples. I think we need to prune our apple trees though...yours look a lot tidier that ours do!

Sue said...

Such a beautiful harvest! So many varieties. I always use a mix in my pies--gives it a "deeper" taste.
I read an interesting book a few years back about life in the Upper Peninsula, and the guy said that none of their trees EVER had pest or disease problems. Mine don't either (unless you count Blue Jays pecking on them!)
Counter that with how orchards raise their trees---the bases sprayed to keep them clear. I believe the heavy mulching with leaf litter and a dose of Donkey doo keep our trees healthy. I also read that mushrooms put a sort of antibiotic into the soil--hence the healthiness of the surrounding plants.
Oh dear. Another novel. Have a nice weekend!
:)

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - Our "older, bigger" trees are semi-dwarf trees and they started bearing for us (decently) at about 7-8 years after planting.

Mama Pea said...

Vera - My husband has been doing a lot of studying on how to prune apple trees and did so pretty radically (!) last year . . . but if this year's harvest is any indication, he done good!!

Mama Pea said...

Sue - All interesting info, very interesting! Last year we had a terrible problem with Blue Jays pecking our (meager number of) apples. This year, very few. Go figure, huh?

Yep, I like to mix our apples when baking (or making sauce) with them, too. Funny thing though, yesterday I made an apple crisp with a mix of apples . . . and although I baked the crisp the usual amount of time, the apples were very "crunchy." What the heck happened there??

Good weekend wishes to you, too!

Michelle said...

It looks and sounds as if we have had the same weather, at least this week. We had a beautiful apple year, too, but I only know one one of our varieties is. The other three trees were here when we bought the place.

Annie's Journal said...

I'm so encouraged to hear from you that you can grow apples without spraying and still get blemish free abundance! Our apple trees are still young and we haven't got good yield just yet...but we will put lots of mulch, compost and keep it watered just as you did...who knows, next year we might have to get boxes to contain it all too:) Continue on gardening to enjoy your lovely weather!

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - It's nearly unbelievable, but our 10-day-out forecast is for more of the same mild weather. Sure is easy on the wood for heating supply though!

Mama Pea said...

Thanks, Annie, for your nice comment. Yes, be patient and you, too, will have as many apples as you can use! It's such a good feeling.

tpals said...

I was teasing my parents today about leaving too early for their winter abode. The weather has been amazing.

Kristina said...

I got our apple trees trimmed in time this year, and hope we start getting them next year. I'm still fighting a fungus on my plum tree. We should have had apples and plums this year, but didn't.

gld said...

I was amazed to see such beautiful fruit without spray. Wonder if that would work in all areas of the country?

Loved the duck photo.

Mama Pea said...

tpals - It's the same with the "snowbirds" around here. But I suppose some may have reservations or commitments for their winter abodes so leave even though the weather is lovely at home.

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Don't feel bad . . . we have two plums trees that have never given us fruit in the nearly twenty years we've had them in the yard!

Mama Pea said...

Glenda - We've never had such good luck either. Will it continue? Or will different weather conditions cause a different outcome next year? Hubby is putting a concentrated effort on taking really good care of the trees (yearly pruning, composted mulch, etc.) so perhaps it's paying off. As for all areas of the country giving the same results? Too many variables, too many different things in the air, insects around, etc., I'm sure. We're just very, very thankful for this wonderful crop.

Michelle said...

I've found that the amount of our harvest and the condition of our apples varies widely from year to year, regardless of receiving the same care (in our case, basic pruning). This is a good year. Next year? Who knows! That's why I try to put up as much applesauce and pie filling as I can the years I get good apples.

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - That's been our experience in past years, too. This year was an exceptionally good one for our apples. Will it continue? Who knows! Lots of folks say apple trees regularly have one good year alternating with a not-so-good year so your idea of taking advantage of the "good" years and putting up enough apple products for two years is a wise one. Luckily, I did that with applesauce in 2014. Lucky because I had enough apples for only 4-1/2 quarts last year!

Fiona said...

Apples are so beautiful and satisfying! Great Harvest.

Mama Pea said...

Fiona - And healthy, too, when raised without poisons! We've wanted for ever-so-long to have apples we could eat out of hand on a very frequent basis all winter long. Although the majority of these are not the sweetest, we may have reached our goal. This year anyway. :o} The "sweetest" thing may be just me as hubby enjoys a "tart" apple while I prefer a sweeter one.

Little Homestead In Boise said...

Great harvest! Can you post abut how you set up your cellar sometime? Humidity level, size, air flow, etc? I want one some day :)

Wendy said...

Made your pumkinbars last Friday. What can I say? Delicious!!!!! Thank you so much for giving us your recipes.

Wendy

Mama Pea said...

LHinB - Sending you an e-mail . . .

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Wendy - You're so welcome, and how nice of you to let me know the recipe worked for you, too! Ever since I made my pumpkin puree, I've been thinking of making these bars. Now you've given me the extra push I need, and a pan of them will be making an appearance in my kitchen soon!

DFW said...

What a great harvest Mama Pea. I'm sure you will turn all those delicious apples into fabulous dishes! Do you make your own Apple Cider Vinegar?

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Oh My....what a harvest of apples. :-) One of my favorite apples, honey crisp. I can already smell you making your apple sauce over here in OK!!!!

Hugs,
Sandy

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan said...

How wonderful! And your very own apples! That's a nice mixture of varieties - I had one old apple tree that produced tiny but wonderful apples (sparsely) but I think it's given up the ghost. I'll be interested to see how they hold up in storage.

Mama Pea said...

DFW - No, I've never tried making apple cider vinegar. Like most everything else, I'm assuming it would be far superior to that made commercially?

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - Wish that you could smell my apple sauce making already. Has been a crazy, busy last several days and I look at the buckets of apples every time I walk into my pantry . . . but have yet to sit down and start working on them!

Mama Pea said...

Susan - We usually (famous last words?) have very good luck with keeping any apples we have in our root cellar. But with this crazy still warm weather here in almost mid-November (!), the root cellar is staying warmer than we want. Drat.

Dirt Lover said...

Beautiful harvest! I have 4 producing apple trees here, and 2 new babies planted this past year. This year, my original ones were loaded. They are very sporadic, some years producing hardly anything while other years I have to prop up many branches. I've yet to figure out the pruning, and the bugs always move in early. They are still tasty, but don't last and not super pretty. Do you run your chickens under the trees?? Do you thin like crazy?
~~Lori

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Lori! Our chickens don't have access to the orchard area, but for a time this summer a batch of teenage geese did. We learned quickly we had to put fencing around the trees because they were eating the bark and lower branches they could reach. And they weren't hungry, just mischievous!