Apples, straight from the tree…or why every garden should have one

The apple you see on that plate is the apple I just picked from my tree. I picked it, buffed it against my shirt and bit into it. Crisp but not ‘rock hard’, juicy and…so sweet the flavour was like an explosion in my mouth!

The apple in question is a Fuji, and Fuji are one of the sweetest of the commercial apples, but my home-grown beauty was a factor of ten sweeter because I didn’t pick it until it was fully ripe. Commercial apples are picked earlier and stored in a cool room to increase their ‘shelf life’ in the supermarket. Convenience and greater profits for the supermarket, a loss for the consumer.

How much of a loss?

I can only guess at the nutritional loss, but I can tell you that my apples taste amazing. And! The land on which they grew has not been sprayed for the 16 years of my stewardship. That’s how long we’ve lived here in Warrandyte. As the block was originally a horse paddock, it’s probably been herbicide and pesticide free for much longer than that. For me though, the bottom line is flavour.

I stopped buying commercial apricots the year my apricot tree had its first crop. The flavour of that warm, sun-ripened fruit took me back to my childhood when my Dad grew a few fruit trees in the back yard. The one I remember even now is the nectarine tree. It was big enough for an eight year old to climb without getting stuck, and I’d sit in its branches, eating nectarines.

In fact, there have been home-grown fruit trees in my life for all but a few years in my twenties when I was renting. There have been fruit trees in the Offspring’s life too, and I remember the look of wonder on a young nephew’s face when he picked a ripe apricot from my tree and tasted it for the first time. These are the moments that can trigger life-long food choices, and those food choices can influence life-long health.

Many schools in Australia have created veggie patches for the kids to tend and taste, which is great, but what about the home garden? How many kids get to go home after school and pick a sun-ripened apple for a snack instead of something that comes in a packet? And what better reason for a kid to go outside into the fresh air than to forage in the garden?

“Oh, we’re too busy to grow fruit!”

“The garden is too small.”

“I don’t have time to look after fruit trees. Just mowing the damn grass is enough.”

“Don’t you have to spray them to stop the bugs and stuff? I don’t want the kids to eat stuff that’s been sprayed.”

The excuses are legion, but I believe the root excuse, the one that no one acknowledges is that modern parents grew up eating only commercial fruit and vegetables so they literally have no idea what ‘real’ fruit tastes like. As a result, they can’t see the value of growing fruit trees.

To those parents I say – “Just give one fruit tree a try.”

My apple tree is small, and it has three different apples grafted onto it. For a while I thought the alpacas had ‘pruned’ one of the grafted branches to death, but it came back, and this year it is covered with so much fruit I’ve had to hold the branches up with ropes! Sadly I can’t remember what variety this rejuvenated graft belongs to.

Anyway, my point is that I did not take care of my apple tree for a long time, but it survived and when I gave it some protection [from the alpacas], and a bit of compost and mulch, it roared back with a truly bumper crop. Just in time for autumn/winter.

Feijoas are easy to grow too. They’re the small, dark green fruit in front of the apples:

Fuji apples and Feijoas

C’mon, parents. You don’t need a lot of space to grow one, single fruit tree, and the benefits will astound you. More importantly, you will see that same look of wonder on your kids’ faces the first time they taste fruit that actually has a flavour. Find a sunny spot and plant a fruit tree. Your kids will be the beneficiaries.

Okay, end foodie rant. Have a great day everyone.

cheers,
Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

36 responses to “Apples, straight from the tree…or why every garden should have one

  • Monday Musings…25th April 2022… | Retired? No one told me!

    […] head over to Andreas by clicking the link below to see what she has grown in her garden. https://acflory.wordpress.com/2022/04/23/apples-straight-from-the-tree-or-why-every-garden-should-ha… For hints on tips on how to grow strawberries at home..easily no back-breaking bending… […]

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  • Anonymole

    Apples, in spring? Oh, right, you’re on the bottom of the planet.

    I say, if you’re gonna plant stuff, plant it for more than just decoration. Plant food for either you, your animal neighbors or butterflies/moths/bees.

    Apple grafts are cool. So are stone fruit grafts. There’s some guy that puts a dozen types of stone fruit on one trunk. He designs it so that the blossoms are a rolling display.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      As a general rule, I haven’t had a lot of luck with grafted fruit trees. The grafted branches die off and then the root stocks comes roaring back. Two of my peach trees are ‘root stock’. lol My apple, however, has been an absolute champion.
      I know the principles of grafting but my late father had it down to a fine art. He grafted everything from fruit trees to roses. The roses were rather beautiful although I imagine seeing one fruit blossom are the other would be amazing.

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  • Matthew Wright

    Good stuff. Nothing like something from the garden – you know EXACTLY how fresh it is, and what’s happened to it. My house has a walnut tree one side and an enormous feijoa out the back. So far the feijoa has only dropped bullet-hard fruit, but there’s still hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Oh! Are you watering the feijoa? I’ve had to water my two almost every day since mid-summer. If you have a lot of fruit, the smallest will drop to give the ‘big ‘uns’ more resources. Just watch out for Rosellas. I though the possums had finally discovered the feijoas, but I caught two green Rosellas red handed this morning. Little bastards. πŸ˜€ They are gorgeous though.

      Liked by 1 person

  • CarolCooks2

    I’m so with you on this 100% …they call Feijoas “old fashioned guava” here ….everyone should have a fruit tree or just strawberry’s in a hanging basket if there is no garden…:) x

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Oh! I had no idea feijoas grow in Thailand. πŸ˜€ The comments on this post have been fantastic. Totally agree re the strawberries too. The Offspring got into gardening this last year of the pandemic and planted a few strawberry bushes just to see what would happen. We’ve been getting a handful of small, but delicious strawberries almost every day for weeks. They highlight how tasteless the commercial ones are. Shop bought may be big and red, but bite into one and there’s nothing there. 😦

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  • daleleelife101.blog

    What you have explained is so important… our food culture and memories are being homogenized along with our milk! It’s so difficult to communicate when the younger ones don’t know what they don’t know. Maybe a bite of a crisp, fresh apple would help the process of reconnection!

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Exactly. I hope that one of the [few] benefits of this pandemic is that people have gone back to basics re food. I have neighbours who really aren’t into gardening, but during the height of the pandemic, they had a veggie plot going. And all those bakers of bread. πŸ™‚

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  • Bette A. Stevens

    I’m with you, Meeks! 🍎🍏

    Liked by 1 person

  • D. Wallace Peach

    Love the rant, Andrea (and not really a rant, just a great nudge). I love the line, “they literally have no idea what β€˜real’ fruit tastes like.” True, I think. Tomatoes are a great example of that difference too. They’re like completely different fruits when fresh is compared to store-bought. We planted 8 fruit trees and the deer killed off 6 on them the first year. But two apple trees remain and I have high hopes that they’ll make it. πŸ™‚ Enjoy your apples!

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Oh god yes! Tomatoes are the worst. I didn’t manage to get more than a handful this last year because I planted them too late, but even so the flavour is such a surprise. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t really like raw tomato!
      Sorry to hear your fruit trees were pruned to death. 😦 I’m guessing those deer are probably the same size as our alpacas? What we found was that once the trees reached a certain size, the alpacas would prune the lower branches, so the trees look a bit like umbrellas, but the trees and the fruit survive. Good luck with your remaining trees.

      Liked by 1 person

  • ChrisJamesAuthor

    Lovely story, Meeka πŸ™‚
    I totally agree about the lack of flavour in commercial fruit, but yep, they have to pick them early for longer shelf life.
    It made me smile when you said your land used to be a horse paddock, because the secret to flavoursome fruit is poop. Just imagine how much horse poop has soaked into your ground over the years! πŸ™‚
    We have a small forest of raspberry plants in the garden, and all through winter I shovel copious amounts of chicken poop on them (we have 12 hens and you would not believe the volume of poop they produce!). And boy does the next season’s fruit taste divine, like proper raspberries!
    Enjoy your apples! *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      -giggles- I totally agree about poop, but I suspect our horse poop got washed away a long time ago due to the steep slope. When I first started working on the ‘garden’, I had to build shallow terraces to hold the soil in. Sadly the soil goes to clay and shale just a few inches down so I keep having to build up when I plant my fruit trees. That said, the alpacas and their poop have done wonders for the flatter areas of the block. They always poop in designated piles so shovelling is a lot easier. πŸ˜‰
      Man…I love raspberries. You’ve made my mouth water. Maybe this is the year I put some in!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ChrisJamesAuthor

        We love raspberries here because they keep giving fruit, from July until the first frost, usually in November. But re the ground, we also have something similar here, where we have about 10 to 20cm of earth and then it’s sand after that. It’s a pain because all the tall trees like pine and birch send their roots out horizontally, so with every storm a few trees always come down, often on a power line *sigh*

        Liked by 1 person

  • Chel Owens

    Wow. So, do you get three different types of apples? Will it stay that way or will they assimilate to one?

    Liked by 1 person

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