Friday, January 04, 2008

Johnny Appletree

"Johnny Appletree" ?

About a month ago I was enjoying an apple, and the thought occurred to me, I wish I had an apple tree that had apples this good growing next to the house so I could enjoy these on a regular basis. Actually, I DO have an apple tree next to the house, right outside the kitchen window, but it has apples that are rather tart, but KeeWee makes some of them into wonderful pies. Not too long ago we had two apple trees, but while moving a ton of wild blackberries away from the trees they were trying to engulf, a small guidance error with the backhoe reduced the number of apples trees to only one. Fortunately it was a very old tree, not in the best of health to start with, and it was long past apple bearing age. It was almost covered by the blackberries, and when I bladed out the berry bushes, I got the tree at the same time.

Anyhow, after finishing the apple that I was talking about before I wandered off, I got to thinking that all you need for an apple tree is either money, and go buy one and plant it, or grow your own. Money is a bit short right now, and I DID just so happen to have an apple core in my hand with apple seeds in it. hmmmmmm.....

I grabbed a plastic water glass, filled it with some rich looking potting soil, and planted five of the seeds. A couple of weeks later I was somewhat surprised to see a small white shoot starting to rise out of the soil. It's rate of growth was amazing, as you could see the difference from morning to evening. After three days it had reached the level of the rim of the plastic glass. Soon the two small leaves appeared, followed by two more. It's now growing like crazy, it's little stem is getting sturdier by the day, and it looks like leaves number five and six are just starting to appear. It's now sitting on the kitchen table where it can get what sunshine we are lucky enough to get this time of year.

I don't think it's quite ready to produce apples yet, but I'll do my best to be patient.

I wonder how long it takes for an apple tree to get big enough to have apples? Anybody know?


At Friday, January 04, 2008 11:07:00 PM, Anonymous DaveH said...

A quick heads up...

Apples do not breed true from the seed. All commercial apples are grafted. The scion determines the type of fruit and the rootstock determines the growth characteristics of the tree (dwarf, medium, tall, cold hardy, etc...)

That being said, you may wind up with an amazing tree - you may also wind up with a gnarly crab.

These folks are good:

And by all means, plant your tree this spring -- some great apples have been found from wild trees...

And oh yeah - you are looking at around three to five years for the first real harvests.

My wife and I have two hundred traditional Hard Cider apples that will start bearing this fall or next year...

At Saturday, January 05, 2008 8:30:00 PM, Blogger kbarrett said...

The fruit will be the same ... but it might take a lot longer than a commercial grafted tree to bear a serious amount of fruit.

I wouldn't worry about it ... grafting onto hardier rootstock is only really important for a grove owner or a gardener ... you see volunteer trees growing by roadsides quite often out in the sticks.

At Saturday, January 05, 2008 10:30:00 PM, Anonymous DaveH said...

Actually, check this out:

I can come up with the citations in a day or two (they are on another computer in an out-building)

Johnny Appleseed was traveling along routes where he thought towns would spring up and he planted orchard from seed. Ten years later, he revisited the township and offered terms for 'leasing' his trees.

Crabs make excellent Hard Cider - much of the flavor is bound with the sugars so when these get converted into booze, there is an attenuation of flavor. Start with a nice gnarly Crab and you have a chance of making a decent cider.

Of the 200 trees we have, there are only about 20 that are eating and novelty apples (including one cloned from Isaac Newton's tree from where he lived when he wrote , the others are "spitters" (ie: you will find one in your field with one bite taken out of it and then it is tossed away).

The reason for Cider was that the Mid-West had not been fully cultivated (no cheap grain), and there was no knowledge of sanitation -- farmhouses were located right next to barns, right next to wells, right next to the outhouses. The alcohol will kill any known human pathogen (still true today (knock on wood -- we have some nasty ones out there))

Beer was difficult to brew - the mashing process (using the native enzymes in the kernal to convert the starch to fermentable sugar) requires the temperature to be accurate to a couple degrees F. There were no thermometers available to the public back then.


At Saturday, February 02, 2008 5:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most apple trees grown from pips don't bear edible fruit (i.e. incredibly nasty). But sometimes people get lucky: Someone's "Granny Smith" grew a tree from a pip that produced one of my favorite apples (grafts from that tree have spread far and wide).

So you never know.

Besides, even bad apples make good targets.

At Friday, February 15, 2008 8:50:00 AM, Blogger mdmnm said...

Go to your library and check out Michael Pollan's "The Botany of Desire", as it has a segment on apples that is incredibly interesting and will expand on some of the comments above.


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