The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The Best Apples to Buy and Grow

The Best Apples to Buy and GrowThe Best Apples to Buy and Grow is one of those small, beautifully illustrated books that clearly can't find room within its pages to tell the reader everything.  But, in this case at least, it does a great job providing depth in its niche --- helping readers choose from among the 1,513 apple varieties currently available commercially in the U.S.

Half of the book introduces the top variety choices of four apple experts, summarized by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  By picking the brains of well-known pomologists from around the U.S. (Virginia, New York, Arkansas, and Oregon), the book's "60 Great Apples" are likely to steer most readers toward locally adapted varieties.  (I'll make a later post with the types of apples that piqued my fancy from this and the other orchard books I've been perusing lately.)

Heirloom apples

The other half of the book consists of basic information you could find in many other sources, but some tidbits did stand out.  Several apple varieties tend to lose points among modern growers for a tendency toward biennial bearing (having a huge crop one year then taking the second year off), but the authors point out that this can be a good pest resistance strategy.  The grafting section also included some simple good advice --- cut scionwood in January or February, graft in February or March, and set out the new trees after the last freeze.  (I'll be marking my calendar for this winter's experiments.)

All told, The Best Apples to Buy and Grow is a fun read, and I highly recommend hunting it down in your local library.  I'll be returning my copy to its original owner, though --- a few pages of notes summed up all of the useful information I'll need to remember.

Our chicken waterer takes the guesswork out of a backyard flock by providing copious clean water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I have a question for you guys, it not about this post on apples although I am interested in try to graft apple trees(two of our old apple trees have a bland flavor and we have another old golden delicous tree that I would like to graft into the two bland trees). My question was which method would you recommend on trying to protect tomato plants from frost, I have covered plants with plastic the last couple years and that works ok, my mother in-law always just turns a sprinkler on over head of the plants and she says that works pretty well, have you tried the sprinkler method? I have soaker hoses on the ground under my tomato plants and was thinking maybe cover the plants with plastic and turn on the soaker hoses? I was hoping you might have some input on this. We are supposed to get down to frost temperatures tonight and tomorrow night then its supposed to warm back up for the next week, I wanted to try to get through tonight and tomorrow, so my plants can have another week or so to ripen. I have 26 tomatoI plant and plan on canning a couple big batches of omish tomato soup and the rest will be canned as whole tomatoes to be used in sauce later on. I would very much appreciate any advise you have for me. Thanks, Bo
Comment by Bo Wed Oct 3 15:49:26 2012

Bo --- Stay tuned --- I'll be posting a lot about grafting this fall and winter. I want to brush up on my skills and do some experiments myself. :-)

As for protecting tomatoes, last fall we used quick hoops to protect our tomatoes. This year, we seem to have skipped the early frost, so we may be able to just let them keep ripening outside until they're nearly all done. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Comment by anna Wed Oct 3 17:56:41 2012

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