Monday, May 14, 2012

Mid-May Garden and Orchard Update

Liberty apple blossoming out, May 12, 2012
The apple blossoms buds have started to flower out. In the orchard behind the house planted by George Eaton many decades ago, the Rhode Island Greening is full of bloom. In the orchard by the road into the woods, the Liberty and Prima that I planted some 25 years ago, and the old mystery tree that most recently I've called a Shiawassee, also are filled with bloom. The Liberty (pictured above, two days ago) buds were then just out. The Baldwins are bare of bloom; the Golden Russet is late as usual and so it's impossible to tell what kind of blossoming it may do; the same is true with the Winesap and the Kingston Black. A few of the unidentified old trees also are full of bloom. Overall, it now looks as if it may be an average year for apples--not nearly as poor as I'd originally thought. The cider pressed from last fall's apples has gotten back to fermenting once the cellar warmed up above fifty degrees. I must keep an eye on it and see when the fermentation stops so that I can put half of it in the oak barrel to age for a few months before bottling. And that reminds me that I must get the bottles ready also. If I do it gradually instead of the day before, it won't seem to take me away from other pursuits.

The Shiawassee apple tree was identified as such first by the pomologist Herbert Wave about 25 years ago, based on a couple of ripe fruits and a description of the tree. But a few years ago John Bunker, the apple expert who works at Fedco, tentatively identified it (based on a few ripe fruits that I took to the Common Ground Fair) as Fameuse; and again last year he made the same identification. Looking over the descriptions of Fameuse and comparing them with Shiawassee, I agree with John and from now on will refer to that tree as Fameuse. About 20 years ago I grafted a couple of "volunteer" trees over to this Fameuse variety, with the result that I now have three of them. 

As usual, the vegetable garden is very slow at this time of year. The heavy rains last week washed a dozen or so of the onion and shallot sets out of the ground, and puddled up in the trenches where I'd planted potatoes. When the ground had dried out enough--yesterday--I stuck the sets back in. A few of the other sets had already started so send up their green shoots. The peas are growing, and the greens continue--slowly, with the spinach the most advanced. Three lettuce plants that overwintered under Remay (deliberately this year after last year's accidental discovery) have started to grow again and should be ready to eat in a few weeks. The tomato seedlings I planted are growing very slowly in the cool, damp weather. 

My neighbor Ken Kraul returned the pole saw I loaned him last winter. I saw him trying to dig out thistle from his lawn and we spoke a little while about such efforts. It's good to see such optimism in a young man. Next week I'll have to start reinforcing the fences. This year I may try some rebar as fenceposts to get added height against the deer. 

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