The Apple Orchard

As if I didn't already have enough on my plate with the garden, Mother Nature just dropped a bomb on me.  Literally.

You see this tree?

Stupid tree....
We've lived here for three years now, and we always thought that tree was a crab apple tree.  The apples were very crab apple-ish, small, bumpy and unappealing looking.  I hated this tree - still hate it really - and two years ago when there was a chainsaw lying around, I begged for it to be cut down.  But DH refused, and after giving this tree some TLC in the form of some fresh mulch this spring, it started producing crab apples on steroids.  Seriously large crab apples.

We ignored them for most of the summer.  Our yard is mostly a dust bowl, and when it's not a dust bowl it's mostly tall, stupid weeds, so we don't have to mow much.  Thus, the apples could sit there - hiding in the weeds - without us really noticing them at all.

Then came this weekend, and DH decided to mow.  He asked me to pick up apples, and I started digging through the weeds/dust bowl and picking them up.

"I'm going to get you a bucket," he said, and I didn't argue, since I already had an arm full of apples and they were rotting and disgusting so I didn't actually want to hold them close to me.

But about two minutes after I started putting apples in the bucket, it was full.

Why?  Because these apples were as crab-apple-shaped as I had originally though.

So then I got to thinking, "How many apples are there down here?"  And I went and got our wheelbarrow to find out.

Well, it turns out there were a lot of apples.  A lot of apples that are definitely not crab apples.

These were all laying in our yard! At the bottom of the hill!!!
Apparently we have an apple tree in our yard.  An apple tree that produces some seriously nasty looking apples.

In the interest of science, I kept some of the best looking apples and brought them inside to conduct some internet research and experiments on them.   My research has led me to believe that these apples are diseased with not one, but two diseases - sooty blotch and flyspeck.

A non-crab-apple with sooty blotch
But the prognosis isn't as grim as one might think.  Both sooty blotch and flyspeck are caused by a fungus, usually from your soil or from the tree, which is no surprise to us since we have already learned that our soil is wildly fungus infected by the amount of massive mushrooms that grow each year.  You can treat it with fungicides in the spring, right after the flower bloom and fall off, but neither disease really affects the taste of the apple in any way.  In fact, I peeled one of these apples, fed it to DH, and he said that it tasted great.

Comparing these apples to dozens of pictures of other apples, my best guess is that they are of the Braeburn apple variety, but obviously that is just a guess.

So now, in addition to the garden, are we seriously going to have a mini-apple orchard as well?  It would be a dream for the grocery budget - produce is where we spend the most money - but do I really want more gardening work?  And can we really rehabilitate this tree?

Only time will tell....


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