Posted by: A Part of the Solution | September 23, 2010

More about the Orchard

I have been poring over various tree nursery sites trying to wrap my head around the multitudinous (not to say multifarious) options one has in selecting specimens for an orchard of ones own. As one site rightly cautions, it’s best to pick fruit which will satisfy ones intended market, rather than fruit one likes oneself. Yet I am not interested in giving people what they want, not at all.

What’s that, no gasp of surprise? No, I don’t want to give people what they know they want.  I want to go beyond giving people what they want.I want to give them that which they will prefer to their priorly established tastes once they’ve been exposed to it. I will give them what they don’t yet know they want instead. What they want is an orchard which specializes.

Our orchard will not just provide fruit from early June through to November. Our orchard will not just offer two or three kinds of fruit. Our orchard will become a boutique of renown. I want fruit which is best when manipulated by professionals. I want fruit of unusual characteristic and coloring. I want especially flavorful fruit. I want fruit outside the long-travelling, five varieties norm. And I have the power to make it so.

Unless I hear a great outcry, I’ve decided against the Esopus Spitzenburg. It’s prone to just about every form of blight, every borer, every virus on historical record. I let this one go reluctantly, and with some pain: it was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple. Instead, I will have the Cox Orange Pippen as my most demanding apple cultivar.

I have a number of apples best suited to cider production in my proposed line-up. While it’s hard to gage the future, we do know we’d like to be in a position to produce our own cider when we have mature trees in our orchard. So I have the Arkansas Black, the Sops of Wine, the Summer Rambo and the Grimes Golden all slated to go in.

I have skewed my selection of apples not just for cider, but for baking. I have Braeburns, Lady, and Washington Strawberry as well as Northern Spy and Black Twig in this category. Many of these apples are tasty out-of-hand, but their presence in our orchard is ultimately attributable to their worthiness in the kitchen.

We’re toying with the idea of pears. We like to make things with pears, and pears have a great flavor profile. But if it comes down to it, I’d rather have quince trees than pear trees any day of the year. While the pear tree is lovely, the quince is black and twisted and squat. The quince gives pear blossoms a run for their money, certainly. But it is the difficult, tannic fruit I want. And with it, I will rule the world!!!

Nope. Sorry. I won’t.

 But I will make liqueur and membrillo and jelly and hot beverage concentrate and possibly fruit leather as well as preserves if they’re prolific enough. I aim to bring the quince back into style before I’m done. Watch my orcharding space!



  1. All of this talk of apples and cider is killing me! And I’ve never tasted quince, to my recollection…I need to rectify this, I think.

    • You should start seeing quince fruit in the farmers markets in the next month. Have a look on the web for ID purposes. When you get it home, peel it and core it (it has a ROUND seed ball) slice it and cook it slowly in water to cover with ALOT of sugar. When it’s turned a gorgeous orangey pink and smells like spices and pears, then it’s done. This takes quite a while, like more than an hour. But heavens it’s tasty!

  2. Pears and apples and quince. Why not, you guys have the space and interest. I also vote for cherries.

    • Yo, I hear you. those first three are just the ones that can be planted in fall. The rest (cherries, peaches, apricots and plums) get planted in the springtime. I don’t know why as of yet, but I’ll be finding out when I can.

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