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

Our own apple taste test

Liberty AppleI rustled up another early Virginia Beauty apple along with the first ripe Liberty apple so that Mark and I could taste test them together.  The Liberty we tasted had a simpler flavor than the Virginia Beauty, wasn't as dense, and was sweeter, all of which led to me giving it a lower score and Mark giving it a higher score than the Virginia Beauty.  (We have slightly different apple tastes.)  For the record, here are our variety ratings so far for our homegrown apples:

Early Transparent
Virginia Beauty

Enterprise appleYet to come in this year's spectacular fruiting run is six Enterprise apples from our high-density planting.  I had fun lifting up leaves close to the Enterprise fruits and seeing green spots where the fruit was hidden from the sun, a bit like developing images on sun-sensitive paper. Some people even stick paper shapes onto their apples to create specially-colored fruits, but I let nature do the work for me.

Chicago Hardy fig

Ripe figsEven though all of the apples were accounted for, there was one more fruiting surprise waiting for me.  Last year at this time, the first Chicago Hardy fig was ripening up, but the fruits all looked stiff and green on Monday, so I figured they were running late.  Then, out of the blue, a fig tripled in size Wednesday, and by Saturday there were three ready to eat!  The fruits are huge and numerous this year --- maybe we'll be able to eat our fill for the first time?

The EZ Miser is our second-generation chicken waterer, even simpler to use.

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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 was wondering if there is something you do to your fruit trees each year to help them grow. I have just started doing that espalier thing for my trees. It is their first year, I put in aged horse manure and mulch around each tree. But i was wondering what type of annual chores your do for your trees. Thanks for reading, JOHN

Comment by john Mon Sep 2 08:05:56 2013
I have two fig trees that I purchased last year. They are SMALL...but they had a few figs on them this year. Just wondering how old they have to be to have good-sized fruits. I'm in zone 7B. Not sure what I should be doing to protect them from the winters here.
Comment by Robin Mon Sep 2 08:44:42 2013

Isn't this time of year just the best? Fall berries, apples, cider, halloween, cool mornings and nights, a warm fire...and my favorite: a big fall garden. Nothing is quite as pleasant as working in the garden in the fall! No bugs, no heat, just pure cathartic perfection!

I am very jealous of your fruit trees, as we have just planted ours this March. It has been a fantastic year for them too, with our apples growing from 3.5' tall when planted to over 9' tall now (they are semi dwarf, with a max height of 15' at maturity). I can already taste the hard cider!

Comment by Robert Mon Sep 2 10:09:39 2013
In your tastings and trials, do you have any idea what the columnar apples taste like? For all the recommendations I've seen for them for small gardens (like mine), I've never heard a thing about how the apples actually taste.
Comment by WendP Mon Sep 2 11:00:32 2013

John --- Good question! The answer got so long it will be an upcoming post...

Robin --- The fruits really swell up as they ripen, so if they're not ripe yet, you might be surprised at how big they'll get. You might be interested in this post about how we protect our baby fig trees. As warm as you are, you might not have to protect them at all if you have a hardy variety, or you might get away with just protecting them for the first year or two while they get their feet under them.

Robert --- It is a wonderful time of year! I'll bet your trees will be producing before you know it, even though the wait feels like forever to the impatient like me. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Sep 2 11:24:43 2013
We are excitedly waiting for our first apple ( a honeycrisp)! I didn't get real fancy in choosing our three varieties (honeycrisp, gala, and granny smith), from the local store. Our trees wont be allowed to get too big because of our small place- but Sarah wanted apple trees and I wanted her to be able to experience growing her own. We've got about half a dozen ripening up, and watching them grow has been a real treat for kiddo :)
Comment by MamaHomesteader Mon Sep 2 12:24:26 2013
WendP --- We did a side-by-side taste test for Yellow Transparents this spring --- one fruit from our high-density planting and one from our forest garden. The high-density apple was vastly better than storebought...but the forest garden apple was even better than the high-density apple. That's a small sample size, but I suspect you'll get similar taste results with other varieties (assuming you grow your non-high-density apples with permaculture methods). In the end, if the variety is the same, I suspect micronutrients are the primary cause of taste differences.
Comment by anna Mon Sep 2 15:21:48 2013

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