Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Apple Trees

Can tree planting be considered an optimistic activity? I think so. Yesterday I arrived at home to find my five new apple trees had arrived. I was able to get three in the ground before the animals told me it really was time to feed them, so the last two will go in tonight.

Apples, much as we may think they are totally American, actually originated over in the Middle East! Over the centuries they have worked their way around the world, with many many varieties found and lost.

Found and lost? Yes, indeed! These days there are only a handful of apples that are regularly found: red and golden delicious, macintosh, pink lady, etc. The typical grocery store varieties. And these have mostly been bred for size, visual appeal, and staying power on the shelves. Forget taste!

Nope, if you want really good, and interesting apples, you must seek out heritage strains. Apples with names like "Dudley Winter," "Cox's Orange Pippin" and "Dutchess of Oldenburg." There are nurseries out there that strive to save these heirloom strains of apples, and it is well worth finding and patronizing them! I've gotten my heirloom apples from Fedco (in Maine) and St. Lawrence Nurseries (up in Potsdam).

Not only are these ancient apple types interesting, many have good insect and disease resistance, as well as hardiness for cold zones like here in Newcomb!

So, let's hope that planting apple trees means I will be around here long enough to see them produce fruit. Seeing as how four of my five new trees are basically sticks, that means several years. Here's hoping!


  1. You are a very busy planter these days. Since my rabbit fiasco, I've decided to turn my garden back over to the weeds. Luckily, most of my weeds are rather pretty native plants that grow without me fussing over them. Do you need more than one variety of apple for successful pollination? Good luck with your trees and don't forget to protect them from the rabbits and mice.

    Your apple story revived happy memories of my Grandpa's orchard, with apples of every color, fragrance, and taste: Yellow Transparent, Banana, Snow, Greening, Baldwin, and my favorite, Jonathan. I haven't seen any of those in the store recently.

  2. Good morning, Woodswalker! It's a lovely morning here and I am aching from planting and wrestling with HARDPAN "soil" last night. Ugh. But the trees are all in. Hopefully they survive.

    If you want successful apple trees (fruit), you need at least two trees for pollination, but I don't think they have to be different varieties. Same with pears. But I say variety is the spice of life, so bring on many kinds. I have Jonagold (for Dad), Northern Spy (for the best pies), Haralson, Milden, Keepsake, Black Oxford, Dudley Winter, Dutches of Oldenburg, Scott's Winter, Wealthy and Red Astrichian (the last five are my new ones). Although I have had apples on the Jonagold, the Spy and the Haralson, none were edible.

    You mentioned Snow - that's a variety I've read about and want to get, apparently it is one of THE BEST tasting apples around and does very well in our cold climes.

    My Dad also grew some old varieties: Winekist, Ida Red, and Chenango Strawberry stick out in my mind.

  3. I remember reading a poem, once, that was simply a list of apple variety names, arranged in mellifluous order. Sometimes our language seems good enough to eat!

  4. i am doing a science project and trying to find out what type of apple leaf this shade of green, a serrate margin, simple, oval shaped, pinnate. any sugeshtons???

  5. Anonymous - I'm sorry, but I can't help you here. Most apple leaves look pretty much the same. I think the pros use the actual apples to determine the tree. There are several books out there that list the varieties - you might want to check them out and then contact the authors. Good luck!