Wednesday, February 8, 2017
For the Love of Apples
With the hunting season over and the woodcock flights not yet arriving I've been busy pruning apple trees and cutting scion wood both for my own use and to trade with other grafters across the country. I get a lot of use out of my ARS pole pruner.
The majority of my trees are 3 years old and are at the age where I can decide what will be left to become major limbs.
I find grafting to be a very interesting hobby. Although many old apple varieties have been lost to time there are a small group of people that have kept many old varieties alive. Their names and the history behind them are what I find fascinating.
The Scottish apple Bloody Ploughman takes its name from a ploughman who was shot stealing apples from the Megginch estate. His wife threw the apples into the rubbish heap and a seedling grew into an apple tree that bore fine tasting fruit.
The Limbertwig family of apple trees saved by the late Harry Morton who sought out old homesteads in the Smokey Mountains where these trees were first grown from seeds. Brushy Mountain, Swiss, Caney Fork, Ruby, and Red Royal are just some of the Limbertwigs varieties that I have grafted.
Arkansas Black which originated in Arkansas in the late 1800's. A very hard apple which keeps long into the winter and improves with age.
Court Penu Plat, an old French variety first recorded in 1613 and was probably cultivated by the Romans.
These are just a small sample of the 100+ varieties I have grafted over the past 3 years. I realize that at my age I probably won't see these trees reach full maturity, but I feel the need to plant them so that hopefully some future apple lover will enjoy these unique varieties and perhaps even gather scion from them to keep these special trees alive and thriving.