Archive for November, 2009

Late Fall
November 28, 2009


All the leaves on the Asian pears have turned golden and are dropping off, and the persimmon leaves are also starting to turn.  But except for a couple crabs, the apples are still in full swing.  I’m doing some “late summer” pruning before they start to go dormant.

The tree in front is Goldrush, and it still needs a few weeks.  Sundowner and Lady Williams need about six more weeks.  The roses are thankful the heat is over and will be peaking now through Christmas, blooming even through the rains.  Speaking of which, we got our first real shower since April this morning, along with some very rare thunder (which we paranoid Californians mistake for earthquakes at first).


Silverwood Lake Historic Orchard
November 21, 2009

Silverwood Lake is part of the California State water system and is situated in the northern side of the San Bernardino Mountains.  It was built in the 1970’s on the site of the former community of Cedar Springs, which was razed in order to build the lake.

One of the few remnants of this community is an old apple orchard near the entrance station that dates from about 1900 to the 1920’s.  We were contacted by a State Park Ranger who is interested in preserving and restoring the orchard to honor the memory of Cedar Springs and to display a part of our mountain heritage.  He was kind enough to show us around the lake today and tell us his hopes and plans for the future of the orchard; we had a wonderful time on this perfect fall day, and what better way to spend the day but at a lake playing with apples?

He has a formidable partner in the form of the park maintance head, who also shares a passion for history and nature.  Together I believe they have the energy and ambition to make this project happen, and the resources to back it up.  We’ll be happy to be a part of it and supply whatever trees and advice are needed, and I’m sure there will be opportunity for other volunteers to help out as well, so stay tuned for more details to come!


Pressing Cider
November 8, 2009

We made cider this weekend and taped it for our YouTube channel.

Big Apple
November 4, 2009

Big AppleThis 150 year old monster big apple tree is over by the stables at Yosemite National Park.  Easterners are probably used to seeing apple trees this size, but out here this is a honking big tree.  From what I found on the ground I think it was Rome Beauty.

The Park Service is at a quandry about what to do with these trees.  They consider them non-native exotics, and usually would remove them from the Park.  On the other hand, they are more historic than the Ahwanee Hotel and pre-date it by decades.  They are one of the oldest artifacts from the Pioneers in the Park, and so they still tolerate them.  However they do consider them an unnatural food source for bears, and so enlist a small army of volunteers in August to pick the apples off so they don’t attract bears in the fall.

I would argue this point, but just to my right there was a bear up in the neighboring apple tree feeding his face with apples, and we beat a hasty retreat.

Out With the Losers
November 3, 2009

ShredderI shredded an apple tree today.  Our trees are really small and so it didn’t take very long, and it all fit easily in my electric shredder.  I was able to dig the root ball out in about 10 minutes, and all that’s left now is a hole in the ground waiting for a new tree to arrive in the mail this week.

We live in a city lot and the apple trees must be irrigated almost year round, so I don’t have room for losers.  Poor Lord Lamborne made the fatal mistake of producing inferior apples three years in a row, so I cut it down and shredded it in front of all the other apple trees to warn them what happens around here if you don’t produce (my mother-in-law says she noticed this too and tries to pull her own weight so she doesn’t get tossed out also).

If you’re wondering why I don’t just topwork the tree, grafting another variety onto the rootstock, its because our warm climate stifles the vigor of the tree and more often than not it lacks the vitality to recover.  The scion will send out a nice shoot but the bark on the other side of the trunk dies to the ground and borers inevitably move in to finish it off.  I’ve learned through bitter experience its best to just plant another tree, which will bear in a year or two anyway, even if started from a benchgraft. 

We’re planting Cameo in its place to give it the torture test of our hot climate.  I have about a dozen other trees ordered that will need holes also, and so I’m looking around for other underachievers to pull out to make room.  Tough time to be an apple tree around here…

Apple Hunting
November 2, 2009

Clarks TinyWe went back to the mountain meadow where we bushwhacked this August to see if there are any apples ripening, and things were slim pickin’s.  We walked around for about a half hour before finding the gem in the photo above (yes, there’s an apple there somewhere). 

Clarks AppleIt turned out to be a Red Rome, a mediocre eating apple that still makes pretty good pies.  We were a bit disappointed until heading back and having lunch as the resort in Seven Oaks, we confirmed that they serve the best hamburger we’ve tasted in the mountains.   We need to find some excuse to go back there again.