Tag Archives: apple trees

New Edible Trees for 2016

I wasn’t going to add more trees this year, because I was going to get into meat rabbits/ducks. But it looks like we may be delaying getting into the meat animals until Fall, or even next year, so I’m going ahead and bringing in more fruit.

Four more apples.

Granny Smith, for my mother who likes her apples tart.

granny-smithAshmead’s Kernel, for me, who likes the very old heirlooms. This one sounds interesting, as it’s a dessert apple that tastes like a pear!


Greensleeves. This isn’t an old variety, but it’s a British apple, and it sounds perfect for what I want.


And a crab apple, Dolgo.


In addition, I added two more plums.

Shiro, a Japanese variety.

shiro plum

And something really interesting, Nadia, a plum x cherry hybrid that’s getting some rave reviews. Supposedly, it’s like a huge juicy cherry!


Plus I bought six more raspberry plants. “Meeker”.

AND some Black Caps. (Basically black raspberries. We can’t have too many raspberries!)

From Baker Creek (rareseeds.com) I found a variety of strawberry I’ve never heard of before. From their website:

This is a cold hardy old variety from Denmark; it was found growing in an ancient, viking village site. Plants are low growing which makes them harder to spot by birds and also protects the delicate fruits from frost. These are a medium sized June bearer with a great flavor; fruit sets early. Very rare and hard to find.

How could I resist that? Viking strawberries!

Although it’s not quite spring here, spring is definitely on the way. These last couple of weeks, it’s been nice enough to get out and start doing some prep work in the outside garden, and I got a few hardy seeds (spinach and lettuce) planted in the cold greenhouse.

The birds also feel spring. The quail are laying again, and the males are amorous, so I’ve started saving eggs to hatch. Probably by Monday or Tuesday, I’ll have enough to fill the incubator.  These will be the first quail hatched from non-shipped eggs, so I’m excited to see how that works out.

Also laying eggs are the baby chicks from last year, now fully grown.  My new favorite breed is the Buckeye. If Charlotte is any example, they are placid hens that don’t get up to mischief or bullying, but also stand up for themselves, so they don’t get bullied themselves. She’s fit right in with the old girls. She’s a great forager, too.  I don’t have a recent picture of her; I’ll have take some soon. She’s a very pretty red, like a fancy Rhode Island.

The Americauna, Freddie, had a name change. It just didn’t suit her crazy temperament. She’s now Boadica, the British Queen who took on the Roman invaders. For a long time, she was simply known as ‘that crazy hen’. She’s calming down now, though – less crazy, more eggs!  She lays these pretty green eggs – kind of an olive green.

And the odd thing is, she never bothered to lay those tiny pullet “starter eggs”. She went straight to full-sized. And she’s the smallest hen I have. Ouch. No wonder she’s a bit crazy.

Apples and Bunnies…

First of all, though, let me show you a couple of pictures of the progress on our front yard garden fence.

We basically have two sides done, which means we only have one side left to go.  And it’s killing me that the weather turned wet and windy, so I can’t work on it.

In case you missed the previous post, it’s made of rolled, 1″ bamboo fencing, attached to T-posts.

While I can’t work outside (I refuse to make myself miserable by working in the rain) I’ve been doing some more research into apple trees.  I was originally planning to have purchased them last fall, for planting this Spring.  That did not happen…because wow.  Getting apple trees is FAR more complicated than I would have imagined.

First of all, there are a million different varieties, and they all require different pollinators, so you can’t just pick one and bring it home.  You have to make sure that you have one or two others that will bloom at the same time.  And even then, you have to make sure that they are varieties that actually have fertile pollen!  I didn’t know that.  I knew fruit trees often require a second tree to pollinate, but I had no idea some apple trees have infertile pollen, and are completely incapable of pollinating anything.  If you get two of those trees, you won’t get any fruit at all.

Then, you have to select a rootstock to have your tree grafted onto.  There are a many choices, and they all have their pros and cons.  I’m looking for something that will make a dwarf tree, because I plan to turn mine into espaliers.

So at this moment, I am still trying to figure all this out, but I am utterly determined to order my trees this fall.  For one thing, since I am doing espaliers, I have to start out with a 1 year old tree.  Basically, a stick, with no branches.


With a lot of growing and pruning, it will eventually be this:


But as you can see, it’s not going to be ready to produce fruit for some time.  I need to get started ASAP!

I do have three apples I am quite determined to get.  They are:

Arkansas Black.


So freaking beautiful!  And a great keeper, too.  It starts out quite tart on the tree, then sweetens in storage.  And they are, quite possibly, the most beautiful apple ever.

arkansas-black1It is also a heirloom apple; it has been around since 1870.

Another is Cox’s Orange Pippin.


This one is even older, dating from 1830, and it reputedly the BEST tasting apple in the world, ever.  If it likes you.  It’s also reputedly somewhat difficult, which would normally make me give it a pass.  But I am just hugely drawn to this apple, so I am going to give it a try.  It grows well in England, and the Pacific NW is often described as having an English climate.

Gravenstein is my third choice, and also very old, dating from around 1669! The problem with both Gravenstein and Arkansas Black is that they both possess infertile pollen.  Cox’s Orange Pippin is a pollinator, but is not enough.  I need at least one more fertile apple tree.  I may end up getting a crab apple.  They are among the best pollinators for other apple trees.  One crab I wouldn’t mind having is Wickson’s Crab.  It is far sweeter than most.

Decisions, decisions!

I am also mulling over the whole meat rabbit thing.  I already know that I don’t want to keep them in small cages – and absolutely NO wire on the bottoms.  I want to give them a happy, natural life.  Recently, I’ve begun looking into keeping them in a colony setup.  I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve read/watched so far.

I’m also considering French Angoras as my breed of choice.


Yes, under all that fluff, they do have the body of a meat rabbit.  In fact, they were originally bred as a dual purpose animal…meat and wool.  If I keep angoras, not only will I have a source of meat, but I could sell babies and wool for a little extra income.  I’ve also long been interested in learning how to hand spin with a drop spindle, so maybe I’ll end up keeping all the wool for myself.

Another bonus; angoras are so soft.  In fact, when you pet them, you can hardly even feel their fur, it is so incredibly soft.  They are also quite easy to keep, not nearly so demanding as other angora breeds, and are very gentle.