09/28/2006: "A walk through the orchard, part 1"
Jotting down my impressions of the various trees in the orchard after the harvest. In this first installment I review the trees in the southern rank of the orchard.
This apple tree is in the southeast corner of the orchard, nearest the picket fence and the driveway. It bore a great quantity of small yellow apples extremely early in the season (third week of July!); we're pretty sure that it is a yellow transparent, or related variety. Grandpa Dennis spent quite a bit of time thinning apples on this tree when he visited in June, but even so the fruit load was too much for it, and a large limb broke from the weight of the apples. This winter we'll cut off the broken branch, and trim a lot of the water spout branches to try and tame it.
Next in line, to the west, is this over-achiever plum tree! This was the earlier of the two Italian prune plum trees, and it started to bear a couple hundred pounds of fruit in late August. Definitely a keeper, it just needs a little pruning here and there. This tree has a risk of crotch breakage; there is a chain that is bolstering the two main limbs of the tree and holding them together. However, the chain wraps around the limbs; we should replace it with a guy wire that goes through the limbs, since the present design tends to limit nutrients in under the bark of the tree.
Continuing west in the southernmost rank there is this younger plum, which didn't do much this year. I recall getting a few plums off it last summer, but this was not a good year for it. We'll prune it and give it one more chance next year.
Next in line is an apple tree that bore large apples that were red with a light bit of green underneath. It is a small enough tree that we were able to thin its fruit in June quite effectively, and it really paid off. A few of these fruits had worms, so spraying and good control of downed fruit is needed for this tree to really shine. We picked the last of these apples on Labor Day.
This old apple tree bore many, many small red/green apples. We had pruned it some last January, and we thinned it pretty heavily in June, but there were still TOO MANY APPLES on this baby! No scab or rust, some worms; this formed the bulk of the cider made around Labor Day, though the season for this tree extended further into September. [October update: it turns out that we were actually picking these apples a little too early: the apples have turned a deep red in October and sweetened up considerably. As I write this in the last week of October, this is one of the last trees to still have apples on it.]
This apple tree is the last in the southern rank, and I can't say that I know much about it. I think it has yellow apples that ripened in mid-September. We didn't do much pruning or thinning on this tree, and consequently the apples were quite small and numerous. [October update: this tree still has yellow apples on it in the last week of October, so it apparently is late-ripening as well.]
(to be continued; Nate: send me any comments you have on these trees)