I’ve not been very good at keeping up this blog. This year was a fun year. I was able to get some crab apples from my buddies over at Eastman’s Antique Apple Orchard. I foraged some apples from the East side of the Saginaw River and some from the West side of the Saginaw River. I blended those with the apples that I had picked from my trees. Made about five gallons of cider with somewhere around 42 varieties. Not sure on the exact amount because I had to buy some cider from Lehman’s Green Apple Barn to top off my carboy. I know of 30+ varieties that I put in. Also, I acquired five gallons of bittersweet juice from Mike Beck at Uncle John’s during their bulk cider sale. I really like the Beck family; Mike and Dede are great people.
The trees did pretty well this year. All of them had fruit, including the Northern Spy which I didn’t expect to have anything for another 5-10 years. The beat up Newton Pippin had a few gnarly apples on them.
Ordered a few cider apple trees again this year. Same kind of trees…Kingston Black and Dabinett as well as a Spitzenberg for Aunt Dee and Uncle Tim.
Well, I tried to order trees. Ordered a Dabinett and a Kingston Black for myself and a Spitzenberg for Aunt D and Uncle T. The Spitzenberg was back ordered. The other two were fresh grafts that hadn’t even lived a year yet. It was unacceptable. I want trees that are healthy and something I won’t have to worry as much about. These were not it. Mailed them back and am awaiting a refund.
My trees are doing quite well this spring. I have apples on ALL of them! Even the Northern Spy has two apples. The Newton Pippin has a few this year after nothing at all. The one tree that has gone down in production this year is the Ashmead’s Kernal. It only has one apple. I noticed that it didn’t have a ton of blossoms and it was blooming during the time we had multiple days of rain. Two nights ago I thinned it out a bit.
As far as issues with the trees, I had to kill a bunch of worm looking things. My uneducated guess is that it was leafrollers. They had pulled in tight a bunch of leaves and were eating the leaves as well as some of the fruit that had set. Smashed them with my fingers…those dirty rotten bugs! How dare they try to mess up my fruit? hahaha. Hoping to make some cider from all the apples I harvest this year. Maybe I can get a gallon or two.
I pruned the trees in February. I also went to my mom’s house and trimmed their trees as well in hopes that I can get some apples from them. Want to make some sort of foraged apple cider.
This was a bad year in the orchard. Half the trees produced nothing. Part of that was expected, as Northern Spy doesn’t typically fruit for something like 10-15 years. The other was beaten up pretty bad by deer, so it was a year for it to gain some ground. My other tree that didn’t produce was the White Pearmain. This surprised me a bit. It had been my earliest flowering tree in past years. Not this year! Then, in late July, I was taking a close look at my apples and noticed many holes. CODLING MOTH! NO! So it was either pick the apples right then and there or worry about the worms getting into the ground and getting more codling moth. Away with them right then and there. When it was all said and done, I had three apples left, all on the Hauer Pippin tree.
It was just not a good year. The japanese beetles ate many of the leaves. Ground moles tore up the ground trying to eat the japanese beetle grubs. Next year I need to do something about both.
This past winter was incredibly cold. One of the coldest that I can ever remember. That being said, I think it affected the trees. There weren’t very many blossoms this year. The Ashmead’s Kernel did well and the Hauer Pippin is doing alright. The Cox’s Orange Pippin, after the awesome crop for a 2nd year tree last season, has two apples on it. The White Permain has zero. The Northern Spy has zero. The Newton Pippin is recovering from being eaten by the deer and being in a low spot. The Braeburn tree died.
This year is more about maintenance than anything. It’s busy around the Cottrell Orchard in regards to family. I did trim the trees in March. That might have had some affect on the trees. Nothing else planted in the orchard because it all died last year.
Well, fall is here! The trees did pretty well this year. The Cox’s Orange Pippin had a bunch of apples on it. Actually, four of my seven trees had at least one apple. I waited a bit too long to harvest my Cox’s Orange Pippin apples and they were starting to get mealy. Another round of deer nibbled on my trees, but left the apples alone. I thought that was kind of weird.
I’ve spent some time at Moore Orchards this fall. Was able to pick some Yellow Transparent apples for my grandma late in the summer. Been hitting up the orchard every Saturday for the past few weeks to get more apples. My wife has also been eating a lot of apples and together, we have eaten over a bushel in less than a month. Her favorites are 20oz and Jonathon.
May was an interesting month. The trees bloomed for the first time. They also had their first fruit set. Here is a picture of the Hauer Pippin with a growing apple.
The Cox’s Orange Pippin had TONS of flowers on it and looks like it might have some fruit. I’ll have to make sure the apples don’t get too heavy on the branch and bust it. That’s the last thing I need on that tree! A few weeks ago, I tilled up the soil again and prepped it for the pumpkins and watermelons I planted among the trees. Going to plant some blueberries just north of where I planted the apples.
Two trees did not bloom this year. One was not a surprise. The Northern Spy isn’t a big surprise. It has been known as a tree that takes its time to get ready. The other one was the Braeburn I transplanted last year. I hacked it back a bit. It had this ugly curve and some dead branches. It’s leaved out and hopefully next year it will be happy.
Yesterday was probably the nicest day we have encountered so far this spring. After I let the dog out, I walked over to the mini orchard to look at the progress the trees have been making. That’s when I made the discovery I didn’t want to make; deer had been there. They bit the tops off of almost every branch on my Cox’s Orange Pippin. That’s bad news to me because it’s the smallest tree and the one i’m most worried about. They had bitten the buds off of a few other ones. The ground was wet and I have somewhat of a ground mole problem, so you could see the deer tracks plainly.
My best guess is that because of the flooding we have had this past week, the deer finally found their way into my front yard. Dave, my neighbor, commented on my facebook rant that he has seen deer tracks in his front yard. The only thing I think saved me is that a car probably drove by and scared the deer. I had to put my fencing back up around the trees to protect them until the flood waters recede and stuff starts growing back in the national wildlife refuge so they will leave my trees alone.