Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hey, Johnny!

It's almost time!  Apple seed time!  Our first year on the farm my boys bought me two apple trees for mother's day.  The best present ever!  We were already sorely missing our apple tree from the old place.  The pretty, fragrant flowers in the spring, watching the apples grow, and of course those first crunchy bites in the fall.  We believed them to be Crispin apples, a sweet yellow variety.

The house my parents lived in, where I spent most of my child hood, had some kind of wild apple trees strewn about the fence lines.  They were larger than crab apples, and sweeter, but smaller and more tart than macintosh's.   They also had two large pear trees.

I grew up gathering apples, picking wind falls off the ground, and always with that sweet smell in the air in the spring.  Moving here we were blessed with pin cherries, choke cherries, and elderberries.  No apples, no pears.  The weather's pretty extreme for them.  But I am an apple kind of girl, and so we set about beginning our little apple orchard.  With no idea of what we were doing.

Those first trees, and the two pear trees that followed the following year, are all but dead.  They were grafted trees, different varieties on some sort of root stalk.  The root stalks have survived our harsh winters, but the grafts all died.

I've since done some research, pertaining to our weather, growing season, growing zone, and apples.  It is possible, but expensive, to buy trees that should survive here.  If I can find them.

I came across a web site that explained how to start apple trees from seed.  I've been burying apple seeds my whole life, but I've never seen an apple tree appear.  This method, simple, with noticeable results.  I gave it a try.

Keep your apple seeds in the fridge or freezer for several months.  They need to experience the cold.  Then, in February or March, put them in a ziploc bag with a little moist moss, paper towel, egg carton.  Like starting seeds in grade school science class, when you wanted to see the root.  And put them back in the fridge.  Or the basement.  Or the cold room...  Some place cool and dark.  Ignore until spring.

How easy is that?  So I tried it 2 years ago, and when I checked them in the spring I had started three out of six baby apple trees.

Later,  I had 'the great debate' on an email list regarding the merits of growing apple trees from seed.  The apples we eat are some kind of hybrid cross pollination development, and the seeds they produce aren't 'true' to the parent.  I kept my babies, the two that survived a couple of transplants, and finally transplanted them to the ground last fall.  Last spring, I didn't try to make more.  Who knows if, or what, those babies will ever produce.

 I have goats.  Goats will eat anything.  Goats like a varied diet.  Goats will eat the whole apple tree if they can reach it.  Goats can reach baby apple trees barely poking out of the ground.  They can also reach expensive nursery trees.  They have attacked both.
Oscar:  Bring the camera closer, I will eat it, too.

What to do, what to do.  The dilemma.  I've given it a lot of thought.  I've decided to take a note from Johnny Appleseed.  A thousand scraggly, crab apply, sour, small appled, large appled, red, yellow and green apples of ANY home grown variety, have got to be better than NO apple trees at all.

I've been saving seeds for quite some time, and will continue to do so.  And I will plant them all.  And someday, maybe, I will wake on a fine spring morning, to the sweet smell of apple blossoms in the air.

1 comment:

  1. Good idea about the varied apple seeds.I should do that. Next to bananas, apples are my favorite fruit. Oh well, some days apples just happen to be my favorite fruit.I know how you feel, I grew up picking pecans from out trees until I was 19. Then, we moved often. I should have planted pecans trees here when I divorced 30 years ago! Of course, my chickens right now would be as dangerous to a small plant as a goat would be to a tree. Good luck with your seed planting. Can I use apple seeds from store bought trees? I would be dead before they produced, not that I mind planting for generations to come. Oscar is a fine looking goat.