Saturday, June 04, 2005

Apple Tree

When we moved here, there was an apple tree on the property. I don't know what kind it is, but my guess is Cortland or some kind of improved Mac.

I don't know how old it is, but I don't think it's a particularly old tree. It did have some kind of injury, though:


It hadn't been pruned or cared for in a long time. The apples on it were wormy, small, misshapen and tasted terrible. I remember that one time this guy came to deliver firewood and he grabbed a ripe apple off the tree, bit into it, made a sour face and spit it out. Then he chucked the apple into the woods. This insulted the tree and pissed Dave and I off. We never ordered wood from that guy again.

Apples are food, and we made use of them. We cut them up, (cutting around the worms) and made some tasty, chunky, spiced applesauce. We canned it and gave much of it away as Christmas gifts. People raved about it, and it really was delicious, if I do say so myself. The tartness of those apples balanced with the sweetness we added made it great.

I felt as though the tree was happy that we made use of the fruit and liked it. I told it we appreciated it's fruit. I thanked it.

The next year in early spring we had it pruned. I fertilized it with fruit tree fertilizer. Because of the pruning, we didn't get any apples that year, which was fine. I talked to the tree each day and often sat in it. I picked bugs off of it. I hung those sticky apple traps. My son liked climbing in it too.

That year we had much better apples and fewer bugs. I continued to take care of it. The next year, I remembered to thin the young fruit, and the results were amazing.

Bushels and bushels of apples -- just as big, round and red as the kind in the store, delicious and worm free! Now they say you can't grow apples organically, they are home to too many bugs. But we did, and the apples were so good. We made applesauce again, and this time, we found only *one* worm... Out of all of those apples!

But, last year I didn't take good care of the tree and it's leaves were reduced to lace by hungry inchworms. In fact, all the trees around us suffered the same fate. We were told by neighbors that it was just a bad year for inchworms, which come in cycles and that next year would be better. We didn't spray. We didn't get any fruit. But we hoped this year would be better.

Well, this year, again, the inchworms and back. They are joined by armies of other caterpillars, including gypsy moth caterpillars.

Sadly, this is what the tree looks like now:


However, the tree informs me that it is not really harmed long term by the caterpillars. It isn't really worried about the caterpillars, so neither am I. Maybe that is crazy, who knows?

I doubt if we'll get apples this year, but we are lucky not to depend on this as our only food source. We can buy apples. And next year, I will prune again and fertilize.

There are tons of birds eating those caterpillars. And Dave pointed out a nest of baby orb spiders in the garden this morning.

It will all balance out.

I hope.

The tree did ask me to help it with it's injury so that it doesn't get heartrot. It asked me to put some mint leaves in there. I wasn't sure why, but I've been doing it. Maybe it has antifungal properties?



Tree Medicine?

Anyway, that's the story of me and my tree friend.


Blogger Atreau said...

I want to hug the apple tree! I hope it feels better with the mint!

10:06 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Thank you, Sweetie! :-)

4:44 AM  
Blogger Urban Chick said...

yes, hope it's better soon 'cause i sure would like to try your apple concotion (will you ship overseas?!)

4:47 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

LOL. Well, we have people here at home fighting over how many jars they can have, so I don't know! :-)

Here's basically how we make it, it's not hard to make:

-A bunch of apples peeled and cored, cut into chunks. I like to use Macintosh or Cortland, but a mix of apples comes out good too.

-honey and sugar to taste. Sometimes I put maple syrup in too. I don't make it very sweet, just enought to cut the tartness of the apples somewhat.

-spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, alspice and cardamom. Again, you just have to taste it to see how much you like of each.


-If the apples aren't very tart, add lemon juice to taste. I have put a splash of apple cider vinegar in sometimes too, instead of lemon.

I put the apples in a heavy pot with the water and cook over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly. Gradually they break down and get saucy. I like it to be chunky too, so again, this is something you have to sort of guess at. I guess it normally takes about 1/2 hour.

Then add the other ingredients. Stir. ladle into a clean, sterilized canning jar, put lid on.

Repeat until all the apples are used up or you run out of clean canning jars.

Once the jars are filled with the hot applesauce and the lids are on, put into a boiling water bath in a large canning pot. Cover the pot and can them for... I think about 25 minutes. The important thing is to have at least 3 inches of boiling water are over the tops of the jars in the canner. So it has to be a pretty tall pot.

If you haven't canned before, I'd suggest reading up on it a little bit first. Of course, you don't have to can at all, you could just refridgerate and eat it as you like. But it's great to have during the winter, and even the spring, when apples aren't really in season.

Anyway, that's how we do it. It's always a little different but it's always yummy. It's great as an apple pie filling too! :-)

6:43 AM  
Blogger Jonniker said...

This is my favorite entry ever. I've read it at least four times, but this is my first comment. I love this tree, and I feel good things coming with the mint leaves!

9:15 AM  
Blogger Tania said...

That's funny about the guy insulting your apple tree. It makes me think of the angry Wizard of Oz trees throwing apples at Dorothy.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Urban Chick said...

i might still have to request a shipment - my chutney and jam making days are long gone...

thanks for the recipe though!!

10:20 AM  

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