14 October 2016

Apple Picking Time

When we first bought our home there was a lone fruit tree in the backyard, an apple tree and near it the stump of a dead fruit tree of some sort. We closed in the fall and on the tree were maybe five pitiful, tiny apples. We weren't sure if it was just a bad apple tree or if the tree suffered from a lack of water since the house had been unoccupied for a long time.

So our expectations weren't too high for future of the tree but we were curious to see what it would produce this year. I still don't think it got the consistent water it needed to really produce and that leads me to wonder if the apples would be significantly larger if it was heavily and consistently watered. Can't say. But we did get a pretty good little harvest of apples this year even though we lost quite a few to the critters and our dog who enjoys picking the low hanging fruit, playing with it and eating it we still harvested three or four grocery bags of apples on the small tree over a couple weeks time.

Based on the taste and shape I have figured out that these are cooking apples, but haven't figured out the variety. Again it would be easier if the fruit was a little larger and more distinct looking. So far I've made pie filling twice, enough for two pies and I think that's what I'll do with these apples. Maybe I'll just freeze the pie filling and save it for Thanksgiving. That sounds good to me right now. We'll give thanks for our own apples and own beautiful, home baked apple pie.

Earlier this week we cleared the tree of all the remaining apples and threw any that had worms or bites taken out of them from critters over the wall (about 10 feet away) to the deer path where the deer come down the mountain each night about sundown foraging for food. We were happy to share with them. We also have a family of about 10 quail who live under the trees right there and we often see them out eating in the mornings and afternoons. At one point there were about 15 baby quail in the group. Now there is a pack of full-grown birds.

Our neighbors have told us all year that the apple tree is dangerous because it will attract bears. It seemed too sad to cut it down just in case a bear came around but I can tell you that I've been watching closely for any sign of bears and carrying a metal pole and very high powered flashlight outside with me when I have to go out after dark. (Humor me and pretend that is going to protect me, I know it's a stretch. The flashlight is probably a better weapon than the pole since it's completely blinding.)

Part of the tree hangs over the wall of our landscaped backyard, so I have remained surprised all fall that there did not seem to be any apples picked or nibbled on from that side of the tree. This would be the prime access point for bears and deer who could easily reach these branches. All the nibbling has been taking place near the trunk in the walled yard. Still not sure what's been eating those apples but it definitely looks more like bites than bird pecks. We don't have a lot of squirrels here, but have tons of bunnies, who I can't imagine climbing trees through I could be wrong. Maybe it's bobcats? Who knows.

I took the photo above in our kitchen sink. When I walked in after Kiddo had washed and cleaned all the apples I found them in my favorite colander sitting in the stainless steel sink and the lighting was just amazing and the water droplets made it even more beautiful. I'm always surprised at those moments when it takes absolutely no effort to grab an amazing photo. The ceramic colander, by the way, I bought at the riverside flea market in Portland, in 2000 I think it was. It was fun to go back there last summer and I'm itching to go again. Would love to take the family. I keep thinking I need to sneak in a surprise trip there this fall since we have airline vouchers we need to use.

I am watching the weather a little more carefully than normal since I have a potted tomato plant outside. If I play my cards right I think I can get it inside near one of our many windows and maybe even keep it producing over the winter. We'll see. But I know it's going to be a goner if it catches the first winter frost, which could be coming any day. One thing I have greatly enjoyed is NOT battles all the little California coastal gnats and white flies this summer. In fact I did not have to do any pesticide control at all on my herbs and tomatoes. Such a delight! It was a constant and nasty battle in Los Angeles and one that I don't miss.

Have you been gardening? Dealing with critters or enjoying a lovely harvest this fall? Do you still have cutting flowers? I didn't plant any of those this year but would definitely like to next year. Sending you best and warmest wishes. Thanks for coming by!

Here's a link to my favorite apple pie filling recipe. It's easy and delicious which is the best combination of all, right? Betty Crocker's Scrumptious Apple Pie.

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