Have you visited an orchard this year? Last year? Ever?
Commercial orchards offer more than apples these days. Depending on size or location — you can get a ride on a wagon behind a tractor, get lost in a straw or corn maze, pick a pumpkin, or attend a lecture about apple varieties.
When I was a child, we visited a small, commercial orchard each year. No fancy rides or entertainment. A shed full of the sweet, welcome scent of apples and bushel after bushel set out with names for each type. Fresh cider if you went to the largest. Mother had a list — either written or mental — of which varieties she wanted. Cooking apples found their way into pie and cobbler. Eating apples offered dad a nutritious evening snack. We bought them by the bushel (sometimes a peck) and stored them in the basement. With luck, and planning, we didn’t need to buy apples at the grocer until well into the summer.
Have you ever thought an orchard at the other seasons? Spring brings the blossoms– and maybe a little more if you are reading about Hilltop Orchard near Crystal Springs, WI. (Don’t look on a map — the village is fictitious.)
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The schools are back in session. Those that tried to get a start on the teaching/learning by opening during August may even get an increase in student attention span now that most public swimming pools are closed and that final family cook out (or wash out, depending on the weather) is history.
Now the oral and written reports with the “what did you do this summer” begin. Teachers will receive the usual – a family trip, visiting relatives, a trip to a local attraction, or a description of a day working for parents.
Some of the students have sprouted — gaining inches in height. There’s a reason parents do back to school shopping. Other things have sprouted and gained maturity.
Today’s photo was taken in late May. It looks pretty bleak. A hint of things to come but not a charming vista.
Giving a Hint
Spring and summer have worked magic in the orchard. Blossoms, leaves, fruit set and thinned. Solid globes growing on sunny days and through the warm nights. Roots drinking the warm rain to feed leaves and fruit. Harvest is coming.
Orchards are opening to the public. Early varieties are ready to harvest and others in queue behind. Visit an orchard. Drink in some fresh country air – it will have a note of crisp in a few more weeks. Enjoy. Learn. Savor fresh fruit of the land.
What sort of people start a new apple orchard? One answer is in Hiding Places. It’s available in both ebook and paperback formats.
The apple tree in the neighborhood has blossomed, set fruit, and produced leaves. Now the real work begins. Sunshine, seasonal temperatures, and occasional rain keep the nutrients flowing up through the roots. The marvel of photosynthesis filters a constantly changing stream of air weaving between the leaves.
Don’t touch. Let them grow. Soon enough these snacks will reach mature size and blush as they ripen into sweet, crunchy fruit.
No, not the title characters in the classic Disney movie.
When I was a tiny girl we lived in a small town and had an apple tree in the yard that was large enough to accommodate my swing. My parents took it down – I’m not sure why but it was old and prone to storm damage.
During the years that followed we visited an apple orchard once each fall. The trees were large and planted in rows. The view at harvest included ladders for the pickers to climb and canvas bags worn over one shoulder. Most of our visit was spent in the sales shed as my parents discussed the merits of the different varieties and how much of their favorites to purchase.
A recent drive to orchards demonstrated acres of semi-dwarf trees. They stand as sturdy individuals in rows. Shorter and pruned for easier harvest I’d guess that any ladder required is of the four or five step variety.
According to my source — new plantings tend to be full dwarf. They are trained to a trellis. More trees per acre. A tall man with good reach could harvest without a ladder. And while the example below is from a botanical garden instead of a commercial orchard — the principle is the same.