Photo by Cherie Langlois
Our apples trees have given us a delightful harvest so far this year.
When Brett and I moved to the country two decades ago, we envisioned having a sunny little orchard where we would harvest bushels of apples, pears and other delicious tree treasure each year. Unfortunately, this orchard of our dreams didnâ€™t come to fruition because:Â
- We donâ€™t do â€śsunnyâ€ť all that well here in western Washington. (Most of August and September have been a somber reminder of this).Â
- We didnâ€™t research orchard care or plan our orchard carefully enough before planting our first four semi-dwarf apple tree victims. (The poor little things languished due to too much shade, super soggy ground and over-zealous deer pruning services.)Â
After we eventually moved the two stunted survivors to a sunnier, dryer spot away from the deer and beside our vegetable garden, these heroic trees surprised us by actually growing again. They even started producing a smattering of apples each yearâ€”no thanks to my husband and me, who continued to neglect them while we focused our attention on the farmâ€™s animal inhabitants.
Fast forward to two winters ago: We decided to give our orchard dream another go by planting five new trees, this time taking care about where we placed them and taking a vow that we would care for them properly (or at least try). Two plums, two cherries, two pears and three new apple trees. Take another leap to this past Saturday, and I canâ€™t believe it, but here I am happily plucking a respectable crop of apples from our diminutive new trees, as well as from the two hardy survivors.Â Â
Itâ€™s a perfect autumn day: sky of cloudless blue and golden sunshine warming my back, the apples with their skins of blushed pink or red, green and greeny-gold filling my bowls and pots. Each varietyâ€”Liberty, Keepsake, Chehalis and Galaâ€”has a different appearance and taste, but theyâ€™re all crisp, sweetly tart, fresh and wonderful.
Iâ€™ve always loved picking apples, eating them right from the tree or in fragrant apple pie, and in recent years, turning them into sweet apple butter and applesauce. Iâ€™ve picked apples on aÂ U-pick farm in the valley and from a gracious neighborâ€™s tree down the road, but these are the most apples my very own trees have provided, and all I had to do was step out my back door to gather them.Â I wind up savoring this extra-special harvest experience as much as the apples themselves.Â