Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How Ya Like Dem...


We are having an excellent apple year here in the Willamette Valley. I thought I would introduce you to some of our trees.  
These are my espalier trees. Espalier trees are grafted on dwarf rootstock, and are grown on wires or trellises.This keeps them short and easy to maintain. And since they are supported, you can have a lot of apples without breaking branches.
About 6 years ago, at our city house, I planted a row of 4 3-year-old trees. You can kinda see the shape of them in the photos above and below. I planted them close together, about 12' between each. Now that they are maturing I see I could have given them much more room, but mine will always be compact.

I put in 3 posts, and ran 4 lines of vinyard wire between them.
Above is a 6 way combination. I can't remember one of the varieties but the rest are Yellow Transparent, Yellow Delicious, Macintosh, Braeburn and Fuji. It is a fun way to get a lot of variety in a small area. The one below, and in the first few photos, is a Red Gravenstein. It is incredibly prolific, like its bigger cousin, and with the Transparent is just ripe now.
In addition to the Red Grav and the 6 Way Graft I have a Braeburn and a pear tree on the same wires. Nearby is the funny little fellow seen below. It is a dwarf Braeburn. 
Unlike the Espalier trees, this one is not supported. It is quite small, but can get a fair amount of fruit on it. So the branches bend to the ground, and it looks a little challenged. In retrospect I don't think I will ever get a dwarf tree that has to stand on its own. Semi-dwarfs work much better.
Then there are the big kids. Above is the other Grav. She is a full sized tree. And just as prolific as the little one. We don't get fruit on her every year, more like every three. But I love Gravs. They are green, with red striping, and really tart. The cook wonderfully.

I try to keep it fairly well trimmed for health, but tend to let the branches reach the ground. Just think of all those extra apples! Phoebe, being more practical and safety minded, likes it trimmed up so you can actually walk and mow under it. She took matters into her own hands this year, which is why it looks so nice.
We have two other big trees, a King (above) and one we call the Mystery. It is so named because the old guys at the apple fair could not figure out what it is. Maybe it is a cross that only exists here.

One of the challenges of big trees is pruning them. I don't have a safe way to get to the top of the trees, so I cannot easily lighten the load on the limbs. As you can see in the above photo, there are some dead leaves, indicating a branch that has broken off. And in the upper left/center area you can see a limb that cracked. I can't get up there, so figure I am letting the tree self prune. Maybe not the best I can do, but it is what I can do now.
The King and Mystery ripen in October. So these apples have a long way to go to be ready to eat. When we have a bumper crop like this, we can have our Cider Pressing Party. It is a great event, one we have not had in several years. If we pull it off this year, you can read about it in October.


  1. I remember being at your cider press party several years ago! Aubra had invited me. I know her from CCC and the Chrysalis women writers group. Love her writing! She is so talented!
    She and a friend of hers entertained us with music and song. I had fun! I got some mystery cider (we brought our own cartons to fill) and it was the most delicious I'd ever had!!!!

  2. Your apples look beautiful! Do you have an electric fence to keep the deer out or are they not a problem?

  3. Hi Holly. I have a couple different answers: on the big trees, deer are no issue. Most of the apples are so high they are out of reach for all of us. On the little trees I have had deer problems before, although not this year. In the past I used a spray from the feed store. It is a bloodworm concoction that makes the area smell awful to the sensitive noses of deer. I would do a little spray on the leaves, making sure to avoid the fruit. That seemed to keep them at bay.


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