My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

"I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills," William Wordsworth

Apples ~ a crisp and crunchy heritage

8 Comments

When we were kids and if we were hungry, my brothers, sister and I would venture down the paddock and into a large old orchard at the site of the original farm homestead, planted by the settler-owner at about the start of the 20th century, more than fifty years before our family lived on the farm. People grew and preserved their own food back then. What was remarkable about this old overgrown orchard was the range of varieties. Local old folk spoke of the deep interest by the original owners, who had had no children, had in gardening.

Large untended trees still produced some fruit in season of a variety of plums, white fleshed, crimson-skinned nectarines, large golden peaches (we referred to them as the ‘million dollar peach’ – I’ve not seen this variety since. Mum said it was easy to preserve because it was freestone), black grapes, Chinese Gooseberries (now called Kiwi fruit), Yellow Banana Passionfruit, lemons,  navel oranges, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples. We climbed high into those old trees to pick the fruit.

No, I’m not imaging or idealising the unique qualities of those fruits.  I have it straight from the horse’s mouth about the deliciousness of apples. Once when eating a Golden delicious apple, I turned to see Queenie our horse trot up behind me on the other side of the fence, reach over and snatch the apple out of my hand. We didn’t know it then how spoiled we were to have access to these organically grown heirloom fruits.

Post-WWII pastoral farming practices commanded the efficient use of arable land. Grass was king. Cows grazed grass that converted into income earning creamy milk to make what New Zealand became so good at doing, churning out butter, cheese and milk powder.  Dad cleared the old orchard and a newly grassed paddock meant extra grazing for more cows. A new orchard was planted next to our house. Queenie could no longer reach over the fence from the horse paddock to munch an apple.

In 2001, I ordered and planted heirloom fruit trees, grafted onto rootstock from parent trees certified as being true to label. I selected Northern Spy apple tree rootstock which meant I could expect a vigorous tree that would tolerate our poor clay soil. We transformed a disused commercial nursery site into the sheltered orchard we have today. I pick-axed through a deep layer of scoria down to the clay base. Dolomite was applied to help break down the clay. Compost was used to build up each planting area. A windbreak border of medium height flaxes continues to protect the fruit trees from prevailing westerly wind. Comfrey was under-planted to act as a living mulch. Pelletised sheep manure gave the trees a good start.  Chickens now scratch away at the weeds and apply  the fertiliser.

Fifteen years later, our apple trees have grown true to description. Again, our family is snacking on heritage fruit picked from our own trees, preserving  and popping apples into the grandkids’ school lunchboxes.

Red Delicious which is a good pollen donor and crops more heavily when grown with other apples, ripens in March, has dark red apples with deep striping on the skin and is juicy and aromatic. We prefer to eat this apple fresh. it holds its shape when cooked. Golden Delicious crops best when grown with Red Delicious, ripens in mid-March has a golden colour, is thin skinned, and is a crisp, juicy, sweet, taste treat when left to ripen on the tree. This apple cooks well without sugar. Another disease resistant apple we grow and just love is Captain Kidd. It ripens earlier, is very crisp, juicy, sweet and is a good all-round keeping, eating and cooking fruit.

 

 

Author: Jenny

A few years ago when I began blogging, I was in awe of the creative, the witty, the informative, the insightful posts by writers on WordPress. I was challenged by my son to write, to set up a blog, to expand my garden diary scribblings. Never did I think from scratching and grubbing in my garden dirt would sprout words of reflection, thoughts about life lived as I know it. My garden is where I lose myself, or as Himself likes to tell others, I lose either my coffee mug or wine glass. Well at least I do put them on a gatepost so they are easily found. Always, there's something to write or chat about life lived as I know it. I have a certain sense of amazement that my blogging community is expanding. In a previous life, I once was a teacher. A four-walled classroom is an artificial construct. When thirty or so teenagers with diverse learning needs filled the space, the more I listened, the more I observed my students, the more I learned. They had stories to tell, to write of things that interested them. Luckily for me we embarked on amazing journeys of discovery and learned together. Some say a lifestyle block is a no-lifestyle block. We like being able to grow seasonal food, to enjoy fresh air and open space. Himself and I thought we had retired, about to define this older stage of our life together, but family commitments continue. And so it another phase of discovery happens as I share this place with Himself, son and grandsons and a menagerie of living creatures who rule the roost.

8 thoughts on “Apples ~ a crisp and crunchy heritage

  1. I can almost taste them. Most apples in the supermarkets have little taste these days. An interesting memoir.

  2. This post brings back memories of the wonderful taste of Northern Spy apples. Unfortunately, I haven’t eaten one in years. 🙂

    • I am encouraged knowing other lifestylers in out region are committed to using Northern Spy rootstock to grow heritage fruit. My eldest son now has early-to-late fruiting apples in his orchard all grown on the Northern Spry rootstock. May be one day such fruit will make the supermarket shelves. I appreciate your comment, Sheryl 🙂

  3. I have wonderful memories of eating Northern Spy apples. I really should get some heirloom apple trees like you did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s