An Apple a Day

Within the past year, I’ve been trying to improve my food choices, both for health reasons and to control my weight. In the course of substituting apples for chips and cheese crackers (it was the crunch I craved), I’ve rediscovered a childhood fondness for fruit.

For years, we’ve muddled along with our single McIntosh apple tree, one of a pair planted by my parents 60 years ago. They were supposed to be semi-dwarfs, but the tree now towers above our house, exploding in blooms and scenting the entire yard each spring. This tree is a major food source, not only for us, but also for our resident woodchucks, as well as blue jays, squirrels, and chipmunks.

Since we put up the deer exclosure, we now load up bags of surplus fruit and carry them out into the woods. But last year, a rampant infestation of gypsy moths devastated our property and we had no mature apples at all. Here’s hoping the old tree can recover.

Tomorrow, Dan and I will plant the second of two dwarf apple trees we’ve decided to add – a Harleson (also called Harrelson or Haralson). I’d never heard of this type of apple, but why would I? Like Dan, it’s a Midwesterner. I was once able to find a case of these to buy for Dan’s birthday and he still talks about it as the best present ever. I have to agree they taste great.

My choice, a Winesap (photo) tree, went in last week. It’s interesting how gardeners can look at a skinny stick in the ground and see a canopied tree covered with blooms or fruit. What would gardening be, if it weren’t for our dreams of a flourishing future?

In my mind’s eye I have enough time, and a small enough orchard, to tend to the new apple trees properly. But even if I don’t, they, like their older sibling, will be productive enough to fill our larder and satisfy my need for a good crunch at least once a day.

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