Summer Update

Posted on Posted in Apples, Farm Life

Our summer update in a nutshell: weeds, black raspberries, weeds, weeds, raspberries, weeds, weeds, weeds, apples!

It’s only July 26, but we already picked our first bunch of apples, the Pristine variety, which is an excellent-quality summer apple. Honestly, they’re so good that the rest of the summer apples will be destined for the cider press while we hold on the Pristines for fresh eating. I suppose it’s time to get rid of the apples left from 2015’s harvest that are still sitting in the cooler (seriously! Those Prairie Spy kept like champs).

Apples and plums
A ripe Pristine apple and in the background, just a few Mount Royal plums that escaped the May 15 freeze.

We’re on track for a summer with an above-average number of days at 90 or above, which our Minnesota-bred varieties don’t really care for. Last year, our Minnesota varieties tasted spectacular, probably because we had so few really, really hot days. We’ll see how they all turn out this year with more of those days. Regardless of the weather, they keep growing. The Zestar are huge right now and the Keepsake are tiny, but chugging along. The Haralson are starting to get red, and so are the SweeTango.

Zestar!
Zestar! apples, getting big but no sign of red yet.

 

Haralson
Haralson apples, one of the first varieties to start turning red.

We’ve been finishing the trellis installation and when folks visit in the fall, things will look significantly different than they did last year. Besides planting 430 more trees this spring, we’ll have installed the trellises for the apples we planted this year and last year. The new trees we’re planting can barely bear their own weight, much less the weight of an apple crop. The trees will grow to about ten feet tall, but have a branch diameter of only three to four feet. When they’re mature, they’ll look almost like a fruiting wall — or at least that’s the idea. In any case, these trees are trussed up to such an extent that come wind, rain, hail, or even heavy snow, they shouldn’t budge.

Rainbow over the pole shed
A double rainbow over the pole shed after one of those torrential downpours we’ve had this summer.

As for those weeds: we have a high school student working for us a bit this summer and she’s spent a good half of her working hours outside weeding. At the end of last week, she remarked that she understands why farmers use herbicides.

We spend a lot of time weeding.

Raspberries and tomatoes

Weeds are one of the biggest challenges for organic growers — which we are not — but we do what we can to¬†reduce our use of synthetic pesticides.

I’d better get going. I can hear the weeds growing in the berry patch.

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