Look at this!  I am “guest blogging” on my own blog.  Nuts.  Well, actually, no … apples.

My preference is a tart apple that is crisp and juicy – like a Paula Red, a Braeburn or a Pink Lady.  Fujis are good too, but they can be a bit on the sweet side.  I love a good Granny Smith, but they are inconsistent – sometimes perfect, other times kinda mealy.  The ultimate, though, is the Honeycrisp.  That is the best eating apple EVER.  A perfect balance of sweet, tart, tangy, juicy, crispy, deliciousness.

We (meaning me and P, but really, mostly me) are learning how to grow apples.  We have a lovely little apple orchard.  It’s 3 years old, which makes the trees 5 years old.  I bought them when they were 2, you see.  I tried to pick a variety of apples that would be ready at different times so that we would get good cross-pollination.  I also tried to pick only apples that I like to eat (because what’s the sense, really, in growing something you won’t enjoy?).  We have Pink Ladies, Paula Reds, Gravensteins, Fujis and … crap … I forget the fifth one .. wait a minute, no I don’t!  Fiestas.  That’s variety number 5, because I was careful to choose 5 varieties (for variety’s sake).  And we also planted 2 varieties of hazelnuts for good measure (I am secretly hoping to get some truffle spores because I hear tell that truffles like to grow under hazelnut trees – can you imagine? my own truffles? Heaven!).  I had this fantasy about growing all heirloom varieties of apples, but they are pretty hard to come by.  There’s a guy on Salt Spring Island who grows 30 kinds of heirloom apples.  One day I am going to find his farm and buy trees from him.  For now, I make do with what I’ve got – and I have to say, I really like all these ones.  The Paula Reds were a really nice surprise, because I’d never had this kind of apple before, but I bought the trees because they germinate at the right time to cross-pollinate with one of the others (can’t remember which now) and they are really really tasty!

Last year we got quite a crop (see that picture of the apples in the bowl? That’s some of last year’s Fiestas), but this year, our crop came a cropper on account of a long, cold, wet spring which lead to all sorts of travesties, such as me not spraying the trees because I was waiting for a dry week in which the spray wouldn’t wash off (not BAD spray, GOOD spray – nice, organic-friendly-but-keeps-the-bugs-away-lime and some kind of harmless-to-humans oil that keeps the little bug eggs from being able to hatch by creating a physical barrier), and then being overly occupied with things like going to watch Olympic hockey games in Vancouver so I didn’t get around to pruning them (so the darned things put all their energy into growing taller and making lots of leaves, but not so much energy into making fruit) and, worst of all bad things that can happen to an orchard, the bees did not have a good winter (really – this IS the worst of all things).  End result?  My gravenstein tree (there used to be two, but P killed the other one but that’s another story for another day) and one of the fiestas seem to be the only trees bearing fruit this season.  A whole 5 gravensteins and 3 fiestas.  Yikes!  Not a good take at all.  And last year I thought we were off to a roaring start.  *SIGH*

But all the trees have gotten really tall and they made beautiful leaves this year.  We will diligently prune them this fall and hopefully next year will be spectacular.  What can I say?  We’re new at this whole orchard thing!

Anyway, here are some pictures of our apples and our trees because they are pretty and I love them.  I don’t know if an apple a day really does keep the doctor away, but they make a grand snack.

Mmmmmmmm apples!
A very leafy tree with not very much fruit

Here's one lone Fiesta trying to make a go of it.

Part of our unkempt orchard (plus one Pacific Dogwood Tree for good measure). I still think they are pretty.

~B

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