Category Archives: Apple Blossoms

Our First Apple Crop

This has truly been a wacky year for food production at the farm. Some things that normally grow in abundance have floundered and some things that have never produced before have done well. Apples were among the crops that did relatively well this year.

We have seven young apple trees of various varieties that we have planted in the past six years, three of which we planted in April of 2011 before we even closed on the property. Each year the apple trees have had had at least some blossoms in the spring but they never developed into more than a few apples. Last fall, as an experiment, I put a small amount of wood ash around the base of three of the trees. This spring nearly all of the trees blossomed heavily so I am not certain how much effect the wood ash had.

In May, when the apple trees were in full bloom, we had several mornings of heavy frost. Since the frost damaged asparagus, rhubarb and grape leaves, I am still stumped that our apple trees were unaffected.

Our honey bees were more that happy to do their part in our apple production, flying from blossom to blossom and tree to tree collecting pollen from one blossom and redistributing a portion of it on the next blossom while they collected their pollen from that one.

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Honey bee – too busy to pose for a picture

Being our first apple crop we didn’t know what to expect and it seems that our apples fell victim to bugs, worms and disease.  Then to add insult to injury the crows  decided to make our apples part of their diet.

A couple weeks ago when my husband was tired of watching our apples being destroyed he decided to pick what might still be good before the crows got anymore. He first brought home a bag of red apples and since I was busy that day, probably cleaning garlic, I put them in the refrigerator and half forgot about them. A couple days later he brought home these golden delicious.

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He had been talking about dehydrating apples or making apple chips for a few weeks so I decided to use the useable part of these apple to make chips.

When I peeled the apples I was pleasantly surprised to see that the blemishes, which I have not positively identified but might be apple scab, were only skin deep. Once I removed the peel there was no evidence of disease.

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I peeled, cored and sliced the apples. I placed the slices in a single layer on my dehydrator trays. Each tray held about four apples.

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I filled up all nine trays and realized I had peeled way too many apples. So I needed to come up with a semi-quick or easy way to use the other half of those apples. Since fruit pies are a favorite dessert here and pie filling freezes well I decided to make apple pie filling.

I know that golden delicious apples are not necessarily a cooking apple so I was happy to find a recipe for pie filling that just called for apples instead of “cooking apples” or a specific variety of apples. Not that it would have mattered because I often change up recipes, substituting what I have on hand for what is called for in the recipe. Sometimes it turns out really well and sometimes not so good. The apple pie filling is in the freezer for now but I am certain that we will enjoy the apple pie that it makes.

The apple chips on the other hand are disappearing quickly. They make a nice snack.

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When I took them out of the dehydrator, after about 18 hours, I packaged each tray of apple chips in a sealable plastic sandwich bag. This way I know that the package contains about four apples or four servings. Then I put the bags in jars for storage. It is important to know an approximate serving size because these apple chips are so good that it could be easy to get carried away and eat way too many. I warned my husband that eating a whole bag at one time was not a good idea, and that you need to make sure you drink enough water when eating dried fruit. He told me that this was a lesson he learned as a kid – the hard way.

A few days ago when I was looking for a side dish to go with the stuffed green peppers I made for dinner, I came across the “half forgotten” bag of apples in the refrigerator.

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Stuffed Peppers

I decided to cook up some apple sauce. I didn’t need a recipe for this because I have cooked and canned apple sauce many times in the past. Although many of these apples had bites taken out of them (crows) and a few had worms in them, I was able to cut away enough of the bad parts and cook up a wonderful dish of apple sauce. To make apple sauce, after I peeled, cored and cut away any bad parts, I put the apples in a pan with a small amount of water. I brought it to a boil then turned it to low and let it simmer until the apples were very soft. I then mashed the apples with a potato masher. I then continue to let is simmer and thicken up a little. There was no need to add sweetener. I put it in a bowl and chilled it before dinner and it made the perfect side dish.

Over the next few months we will be researching natural options for controlling disease and insects on the apple trees with hopes of growing even better crops in the future, and who knows we might even build a scarecrow or two. https://www.todayshomeowner.com/scarecrows-in-the-garden/

Sights of Spring

This is the day the Lord has made…

I didn’t make it out to the farm until yesterday afternoon. As I walked past the prayer garden I and looked for the killdeer eggs this is what I saw.

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“They weren’t hatched this morning” my husband said.

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Both parents were near by screeching and doing the broken wing act to try to get us out of the area. I expect the babies will be running all around the area soon. I am happy that I can weed that side of the prayer garden now.

My husband’s main task for the day was cleaning frames from the bee hives. He first lets the bees do their part. He sets out the frames that still have honey and wax and lets the bees take what they want. Once they stop visiting a frame he finishes cleaning it before putting it back in a hive.

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As I walked around the farm I observed bees foraging amongst the apple blossoms. I made many attempts at photographing them. They were too busy to pose for a picture, so this was the best I got.

IMG_2573The bees were also collecting a lot of dandelion pollen. This lady stopped for a few seconds, so I was able to get a clear shot before she moved on.

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Last week we observed something that neither my husband, who has spent much of his life around ponds, creeks, rivers and lakes, or I have ever witnessed before. The toads had all made their way to this shallow grassy area of our pond and were mating there.

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There were too many to count and as we stood there watching more toads were arriving for the party.

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Yesterday as I walked by that area of the pond I noticed tiny black tadpoles apparently just hatching.

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We also spotted minnows swimming in the beach area.

For the past two years only one of our young lilac bushes has blossomed. When I mentioned this to my son-in-law last summer he suggested that I spread wood ash around them. Last fall I did spread wood ash around all of the lilac bushes and some of our apple trees as well.

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This year 10 of our 15 lilac bushes have blossoms.

Our apple trees also have more blossoms than they ever have before.

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Several years ago around just before Mother’s day my husband and I planted some trilliums in a wooded area of our farm. These were one of my mom’s favorite wild flowers, and we planted them as a tribute to mom who passed away the same year we bought our farm.

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Mom’s trilliums are beginning to bloom, appropriately, in time for Mother’s day.

Visitors are another common sight at the farm during the warm weather seasons, and it was good to have our first visitors of spring.

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Two of our daughters, Kara and Lindell, stopped by for a visit yesterday afternoon. They were dancing as they came up the driveway since my husband had a classic rock station playing on the radio.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24