My Apple Odyssey

Green Apple Bonanza!

I planted my apple trees a few years ago and became accustomed to them just being trees. Lo and behold! Two of the four dwarf trees were loaded with apples this year! I kept waiting for the apples to start turning red, but when they got bright yellow, they began falling off the limbs. Duh, yellow apples, not red ones!

Naturally I had not adequately planned what to do with them yet. Weren’t apples supposed to get ripe in the fall? Well, I use apples in muffins, pandowdy, crumbles and such so I peeled, cored and sliced about 40 of them and mixed them in a great big pot with a generous slop of cinnamon and nutmeg, a little milk and flour, and simmered them until they got to about 40% of their original volume. Ready for anything!

Freezer Bagged!
Seasons, Simmered and Stored!
Worry Not, I Have More Cinnamon!

Now they’re in the freezer, awaiting the next cobbler…pandowdy…pie..

News, Gratitude and Pictures

  1. Cabin 020My sci-fi eBook The Might of Defiance is FREE for the next couple days! If you wanted to be kind and review it, now would be a good time to get your Kindle copy. Remember, you can get a Kindle reader download for whatever device you’re using, if not a Kindle.
  2. Second but not second class, thanks so much for all the wonderful wishes for my birthday. Birthdays can be depressing, but not when so many leave such warm comments. Happiness to all!
  3. Here are some cabin-related pictures, photos of the place on Earth I treasure the most.

Cabin 20130721 040Strawberry in the leaves

Cabin 049.JPG

Come On, Spring!

Narrow Narcs 2Could there be a brighter harbinger?

 

 

 

A panorama of flowers trying to ward off the mean old coldWoodrose Narcs broad view

Peach BlossomsLeafy vs notAlgae spring close

 

 

The bright early plum

She wants to bloom free

Says winter’s a bum

I agree with the tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples, coaching the laggard trees beyond

And the moss the moss on the stone is listening

As is the little strawberry nestled in the hay

Spring is coming, surely any day!

 

MARCH SNOW?  NO!

Narrow stawb in hay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberries On the Move!

Check that out, those rambunctious strawberries running for all they’re worth! I admit I hate Strawberries escaping to weed and so some weeds are taller than I am. Also, some really insistent viney crap is taking over no matter how many of those plants I pull up. I think they multiply by rhizomes, the root internet between plants. I pull up one gob, roots and all, but the root internet gets the signal: We’re under attack! Grow faster! Spread further!

Now that they’ve infiltrated the strawberries, it’s clear why the poor berry runners are fleeing. I attacked back, wading into the berry patch early Strawberries up closein the morning to take a couple hours in the stifling heat to yank weed after weed. First, I know that stuff will sprout right back up. Second, the stuff is infested with turkey mites. Heard of chiggers? Turkey mites are very similar. They burrow into your skin and it itch-itch-itch-itches for days. Sure, shower and scrub right after weeding to wash them off. Fine plan that I did follow, but the faster burrowers had already dug in. Really, most came from my shoes. I had wiped them inside and out with bug spray, but that was a Bullwinkle move as I got ‘em up and down me RIGHT NOW.new strawberries

You hear so much about unwanted refugees on the news. In can’t help but see those striving strawberry runners reaching out into bare gravel toward a block retaining wall, toward nothing hospitable, as an illustration of an archetypal theme. Unable to let that continue, I extended the strawberry bed and put 25 more (super-sale!) plants in with them.

Check out before and after! Now, all that was last weekend. I dread looking at the berry bed when I get to the cabin this evening. I know what I’ll see – THEY’RE BAAACK!strawberries with weedsstrawberries weeded

 

Undying Hope for Fruit!

Oh, my poor yard up in town, where we dream of the cabin. I cannot do without Circle Trees cherry no drain potgrowing things, and for years I have sought fresh apples and peaches and such right off my own trees. That should not be so difficult, should it?

Circle Trees plastic pot compare
Bad drainage left, Good drainage right

I finally pulled the dead apple and peach trees out of these pots and left them unceremoniously on the curb. Last summer I went to Lowe’s seeking big pots for these trees and all they had (that I could afford) was these foo-foo plastic ones. I foolishly left the saucer attached to the bottom. How was I to know that sauce would keep the whole thing from draining? We had a hard rain one day and the potted trees filled to the brim and stayed that way until I got another look Monday evening after work. By then, a cold front had moved in a chilled the place way down. I tipped the pots to drain them, but still left the darned saucers on.

After the second occurrence, the trees were goners. I at last forced the saucers off and the water pouring out stank. I got large nursery pots from a greenhouse Circle Trees apple drainsupply place. Here are my new trees bought at the less than half price end-of-Circle Trees pots from rightsummer sale at Stark Brothers (great place). I got two Idared Apples, a couple Zestar Apples, a Starkspur Ultramac and a Sweet Starkrimson Cherry. I did have to put the unplanned cherry in an old pot, but with NO SAUCER and fresh dirt. I got bags a Miracle-Gro soil for all and put a peat dressing on top…they’re going to do GREAT!

I only wish my trees and bushes were as undying as my idealistic hopes!

Woodland May Apples

Newly leafing May Apples, and I sure have lots of them.  Part of my land is a Kentucky – designated wetland. That’s the perfect May Apples 2environment for the well-storied May Apple.

Other names: Umbrella Plant, Duck Foot, American Mandrake, Wild Jalap, Racoon Berry, Hog Apple and Indian Apple.

Lest the “American Mandrake” scare you, like, don’t eat the plant or unripe fruit. The May Apple is not a real mandrake, but chowing down a plant might well do you in.

As a relevant aside, the real mandrake is a member of the Solanacae family (as is the Deadly Nightshade!). People used to think tomatoes (from that family) were poisonous. Potatoes are  from that family too, don’t eat the green skin or the sprouts – same for eggplants. Tobacco to peppers to petunias, it’s a big family! I mention these simply as an example of how you can eat poisonous plants and fruit if you know what you’re doing.May Apples 1

So, like eating the correct part of the potato, eat only the fully ripe, yellow fruit. That is if you can beat the squirrels to it some time from late May through July. This website has pretty good information on it:

Eat the Weeds can be found at  http://www.eattheweeds.com/podophyllum-peltatum-forgotten-fruit-2/

 

Walking through the woods is wonderful and Spring is a magical time to take it all in. From the tree-borne constellations of Redbud blossoms to the tiny, precious wildflowers, I love it!

Woods TrilliumWoods VioletWoods Road

The Apple Toy

Feb Cabin fruit tree lineI have a chewed up Winesap that is not going to make it. If everybody had as much trouble as me when it comes to fruit, the suppliers would not be able to give trees and plants away. Phooey.

You may know I work in town and only get home to the cabin on weekends. I have a small rocked front yard with the center cleared for a good-sized strawberry patch. My dwarf fruit trees live in big containers arranged around the patch. Last March one Friday, I rolled in after dark, so missed the tragedy on the snow covered ground.

That next morning I went out to check on my trees, to see the bud progress and look for bugs. I saw to my horror that one had been dragged away. I followed the dirt trail to the gnawed, misshapen fiber container. Then I spied the five foot switch in the weeds, chewed, that used to be a healthy second year Winesap Apple tree.

Thinking it might still be dormant enough, I replanted it. I sprayed it along with the others. I hoped. It really seemed like it might survive. Now I despair. Unlike the Gala, the Rome and the Yellow Delicious, this poor guy is brittle. No burgeoning buds. I can’t help but believe that if I could have found it much sooner I could have saved it. But I was 70 miles away.

I put a taller fence around the center garden patch. Ugly. However I do have indoor critters to raise my spirits…

Krink Beg 2Squirrel tableau WWJD Bear Chick Cracker More Cat Than Box Fatima RelaxedI

 

Luminary CatLab Dog by Keeping WatchColorful geckoNene Fairy penguinBeaverBat toy

Here, Chicky-Chicky!

Cabin ChickenI had an obsession years back ( who, me?) about chickens. The cabin was about ready to move into and I needed to segue from working on the cabin to working for pay. I got work at the brand new, opening soon chicken plant five miles away! New factory, new career (food safety) and great folks to work with. As a fabulous bonus, any packaged chicken with too few days left to ship was sold at deep discount to employees. I lived on chicken.

Back home, I had a cabin to decorate. Why not chickens?

These are some treasures I’ve collected over the years. The silver one is from Iran – Persia the guy said. The bug-eyed one is battery operated and squawks while waddling. The one with glasses is the Scottish brainy fella from Chicken Run. The one with her neck stretched out I got while in Scotland, from the shop that

Cabin Checken Arraymade it. The rooster in the lower corner was done by April White, a co-worker at the chicken plant. When you roll the wooden one, the egg inside tumbles.

The best of all was the little chicken house I built on the front porch with a ladder going down into the fenced front yard. I got three cochins and a Rhode Island Red. Blackavar was solid black. Guess which breed Rhoda was. Sylvia was, that’s right, silver. The sweetest doll was a Partridge Bread cookbooksCochin, thus Partricia. She would come up to me for a neck rub and would eat from her own little bowl of cereal as I ate mine. I wish I had pictures of them all, especially Partricia. I got so may huge brown eggs I got “The Good Egg” cookbook by Simmons and got really good at making soufflés.

Years of happy. Then fox, fox, fox and finally Particia, fox. I wish I had pictures of those ladies to post. I do have these pictures, Bark and Bark:

Bark 2 Bark 1

Water the Filberts!

I get a newsletter from Chelsea Green, a homestead and resilient farmer kind of publisher. I like adding nuts into my whole wheat bread and gosh, they’re expensive. I tried planting English walnuts a decade ago and they would still be maturing if they’d lived. I am not that fond of the common black walnuts around here though I do use them. I’m not generally one of those instant gratification types, however three years for a filbert, AKA hazelnut, to mature is a persuasive argument for them.

Filbert Dead 4Alas, the State of Kentucky apparently has some pernicious anti-filbert disease rampant such that nobody grows them here. Ha! Not until an outfit called Badgersett hybridized some resistant ones. They have a research station where they have many versions of filbert depending on what you want, geared toward the commercial growers.

I got six in the mail. Their customer service is slow and frustrating but the little seedlings eventually arrived with each in its own cozy tube (hence they call them ‘tublings’) and I planted them according to instructions, taking all the precautions against squirrels I could. You see, these seedlings still have their little nut attached and would seem to present a great temptation Filbert Liveto the fluff-tailed rodents.

One positively (negatively?) dried up in a blink, prompting me to dedicate myself as Aquarius the Water Bearer (actually I’m under Cancer the Crab). Two more succumbed during August. One seemed to be hanging in there last Friday, but this Monday it was a goner. ONE SURVIVOR! Isn’t this tiny fella a true beauty? This tender darling deserves an extra dollop of attention.