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Friday, April 23, 2010

Rennet Apples and Wild Bluebells

Rick Gush
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

bluebells
Photos by Rick Gush

Bluebells

The apples are just about the last fruit trees to bloom in the garden, and they’ve finally started flowering. 

The plum trees bloomed almost a month ago and are now loaded with tiny fruits.  I’m trying to get my wife interested in making some jam or something with the bumper crop of wild plums we’ll get this year. 

I’ll have to put out big nets underneath the trees to catch a significant portion of the falling fruits.  My wife’s not crazy for them, but I am, and a few of the neighbors are too.

I’ve got one apple planted on the side arm of the garden where there is a thin bed at the bottom of a twelve-foot cement wall.  I planted the apple there a few years ago and have been training it to grow flat against the wall.  It’s doing very well and last year we harvested the first fruits. 

rennet flowers
Rennet Flowers

This tree is a Rennet apple, a very common variety among the small farmers around here.  I think it’s common in the south of France also.  Rennet is a very old variety, but has maintained a reasonable market share.  Both the small markets and the supermarkets sell Rennet apples.

The fruit, which keeps very well, looks sort-of like a russet, but the flesh is not as crisp.  The fruits are slightly flattened and covered by an unattractive dull green-yellow skin.  The flesh is neither crisp nor mealy, but very flavorful and perfumed.  The fruits can be huge. We had a few fruits last year that were the size of softballs.  It’s a great cooking apple, but we mostly eat them fresh.

The second photo shows a patch of bluebells that are also flowering at the moment.  This is one of the wild plants I found on the cliff when I first started clearing the slopes. 

The ten bulbs I dug up five years ago have taken well to bed plantings and have multiplied nicely, to the point that I give bulbs to friends as gifts. 

The blue flowers are a nice foil for all the reds and yellows in bouquets, and the cut bluebells last very well in a vase.  We’ve got a big patch of bluebells in the bed where we grow basil in the warm weather.  We can use a lot of basil, so we usually grow almost a hundred plants packed together in a narrow bed.  The bluebells are in the same bed, and they don’t mind the summer basil growing on top of them.

Being an ex-nurseryman myself, I’m always embarrassed when a nurseryman makes a mistake.  The Rennet apple we’ve got espaliered now was supposed to be a local Genovese apple variety with small red fruits.  Oh well, at least it’s growing well. 

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Rennet Apples and Wild Bluebells

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Reader Comments
Enjoyed the article!
Bridgette, LeBeau, LA
Posted: 3/6/2013 9:58:02 AM
The rennet apples sound very interesting.
Tammy, Livingston, TX
Posted: 10/12/2010 5:22:43 PM
That's a lot of basil. The bluebells are pretty
Jo, Muscle Shoals, AL
Posted: 6/13/2010 5:08:24 AM
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