Turkeysong

Experimental Homestead

Apple Head: from punk to the plunk of falling apples

punk apple

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Our society has little of use to offer kids when they are coming of age. Whatever the reasons, our lack of any kind of real transition into adulthood is not consistent with traditional cultures.  When I was about 18 and trying to figure myself out I couldn’t see that there was nothing in my human environment that I could use to move toward a life that made any sense to me.  I had become increasingly interested in ancestral skills and learning about nature.  The things I wanted to learn were very obscure and the life path offered to me by convention extremely distasteful.  I had read about Native American youth doing multi-day fasts as part of coming of age trials, the so called vision quest, and decide to go on a four day fast in the woods to help me sort out my path.

crass

The CRASS, as seen in this documentary, are sort of a group of freeloading bohemians, but they still had a focus on action and doing something, including having a physical place in the country where they grew food and shared stuff. That got my gears turning.

I had been very much a social discontent from a young age.  I was raised to ask questions and I latched onto the rejection stance of punk rock.  If there was one message to take home from punk it was that everything was not okay.  This was at a time of false optimism in America.  Ronald Reagan’s head was bobbling around on television telling us everything was great, except that there was an evil empire called Russia that wanted to wipe us out and we might all be blown to bits at any moment by them, or by ourselves, or more likely both.  We walked around thinking any day could be the day the bombs started flying and the world ended.  (BTW, For all we know, that’s still the case.)  I wore inappropriate clothing and slogans, went to protests and was just generally making sure people knew things were not alright damnit!  It didn’t take long for me to start realizing that whining was not a very useful tool for social change and that symbols such as clothing, music and language did not take the place of action.  In fact, being whiny and contrary turned out to be less fun than one might imagine!

This is me with Ali and Pete on a rock climbing field trip in high school. It was GW's birthday (now president's day) and I just thought I should remind everyone that he was a slave owner. You can find all kinds of apologist crap online trying to excuse him a little because he was good to them niggers, (though accounts vary as to his treatment of his slaves) but it still makes him an asshole first and the president second.

This is me with Ali and Pete on a rock climbing field trip in high school. It was GW’s birthday (now president’s day) and I just thought I should remind everyone that he was a slave owner.  I figured that made him an asshole first and the first president second.

hear-nothing-see-nothing-say-nothing-a

This live Discharge video is pretty awesome!  I can’t resist putting a bunch of punk links in this post :D

Somewhat earlier when I was even younger, influenced by some of the punk bands I was listening to like Crass, Crucifix and especially the song They (lyrics) by Antisect, and also just because it was logical, I found myself more and more convinced that there was no solution to the worlds ills that made any sense other than changing the way that I actually lived.  Switching my view of problems from a primarily external view to a more internal view gave me a chance at some kind of empowerment rather than wallowing in helplessness at the hands of the Ronald Reagans of the world, or whomever.  In other words, change the things you can change and get your ducks in a row, which is more than enough to stay busy!  This epiphany lead to an interest in self reliance.  At about 16 I traveled across the country with some of my family.  I remember looking in every book store that I could find in various cities for any books on homesteading and related topics.  One store was an anarchist book store.  I was not impressed.  If anarchy was sitting in a stuffy bookstore wearing black clothes and reading philosophy and politics I’d pass.  I came home empty handed.  My sister and I also visited the punk scenes of D.C., Boston, Quebec, Atlanta and Austin that summer and while it was fun, they seemed to consist mostly of a bunch of drunkbag wheelchair butts on the fast track to burning out.

From dehumanization to arms production for the benefit of the nation or it's destruction... One of my favorite punk bands, Crucifix, like the vast majority of punk bands, mostly piled responsibility for the worlds problems on others. Easy to do when you are a seemingly powerless kid. Still, they were mostly right, it's just better to concentrate on the stuff you can actually do something about. Otherwise, what credibility do we have to complain?

From dehumanization to arms production for the benefit of the nation or it’s destruction… One of my favorite punk bands, Crucifix, like the vast majority of punk bands, mostly piled responsibility for the worlds problems on others. Easy to do when you are a seemingly powerless kid. Although they were mostly right, it’s just better to concentrate on the stuff you can actually do something about. Otherwise, what credibility do we have to complain?  Crucifix live at the On Broadway in San Francisco for the few of you who actually like punk rock this is a gem in the rough!

So that sets the stage for my vision quest.

I walked up a small redwood sheltered creek in a desolate State Park that I frequented.  I had my sleeping bag and some supplies.  I hung my pack in a tree, took out my contacts (which meant I couldn’t see shit unless it was right in front of my face, another level of isolation) and with my sleeping bag and a water bottle sat down in a circle of logs and such which I arranged so that I would have definite boundaries.  I drank water from the creek as much as I wanted, but otherwise I stayed put and ate nothing.  This was not a strenuous exercise like many traditional coming of age ordeals are, but for a relatively privileged kid to make a real effort to go through discomfort for personal growth is worth something anyway.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I have never been inclined to be religious, so I wasn’t expecting something mystical to happen, but I think I figured a profound epiphany of some kind would be convenient.

It is remarkable how being hungry and having no distractions can focus the mind.  The key word there is HUNGRY, because what grew in my mind the most in those 4 days was a mini food empire.  I thought of every food plant I could, making mental lists over and over so I would remember them.  I thought about how and where I would plant them and how many.  I visualized a farm or homestead dripping with fruit and nuts, crawling with animals and stocked with preserved foods (There was definitely some thought into where to put the skateboard ramp too).  I’m sure I worked out some personal stuff as well, but I don’t recall because it was ultimately food self reliance which was the core of the vision that grew up in me.  Dude, self reliance was where it was at!  I wasn’t content to be livestock and that’s just what I felt like being dependent on an industrial food supply.  Nothing could have been more clear.  Food bearing trees played a major part in this mental edifice which was, I realize now, the early stirrings of a life long interest.

All around the country there are groups of fruit enthusiasts who get together periodically to trade fruitwood cuttings and rootstocks and such.  Some people collect cars, guns, ceramic statues of cute animals… we collect fruit and nut varieties.  Although my interest in this area was born largely out of practical goals and a desire to affect my life through action (and still is), I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t driven also by motives that might be considered less practical.  That’s  okay, we all need some passionate interest to get us through the day.  Mine, lately anyway, (ok, one of them) is apples.  We have lots of other fruits here at Turkeysong.  I’ve planted well over 100 fruit and nut trees, vines and shrubs in 6 years and more are on the way.  There are almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, pears, nectarines, peaches, plums, persimmons, cherries (yum), feijoa (A.K.A. pineapple guava pronounced fay jo ah with a soft J), figs loquats, grapes and I’m sure I’m forgetting some… but mostly apples.  I have somewhere around 200 unique varieties of apples growing and more being grafted this year.  Apples!  No dude!, Apples!  I want to grab you and shake you until it sinks in  A…A….A….A…A…A…A…P…L…L…L…L…L…E…S….S…S…S DUDE!

King David

King David (again)

This has basically been written before.  Back when people took their fruit very seriously.  Paragraphs and essays extolling the virtues of the apple bespeckle the literature of the last couple centuries and were, I feel sure, well received.  Now I’m not a religious man to say the least, but it is apparent there is some comfort in the converted being preached to in order to affirm that yes belief X or god X, or whatever, is indeed righteous or to be feared, and so on.  I personally love to read essays on the virtues of the apple and will now try to channel the inspired persons of the past who spoke of apples with the gratitude and reverence due them.  Forgive me any errors or inconsistencies.   The truth occasionally falls casualty to something more interesting.  So without further delay, I present to you some unabashed apple propaganda…

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, cats, dogs, hogs, cattle and poultry of various descriptions.  raccoons, opossums, bears, mice, deer, packrats, voles and birds of many kinds.  I have not been asked here today at all, let alone to speak on a subject which others before me have eloquently and thoroughly addressed.  Yet I find myself compelled to address our subject nonetheless, for if I plumb the depths of my motives I feel unsure that it is not necessary; that there may not be some persons in the audience who yet remain lost and in need of a light to find the path; that there may not have been something missed which I might point out or remind one of; and more selfishly, I admit that I simply desire to add my humble voice to the throng in order that I shall not have to contain my own malignant enthusiasm.

Apples.  What more virtuous fruit of temperate regions?  I wager there is none!  The apple: possessed of more flavor variations, a longer season, a greater variety of legitimate uses and broader form in shape and color than any other fruit outside of the tropic regions, and possibly including them.  It can be cooked in savory and sweet dishes alike, dried for the winter, drained of it’s saccharine juice, fermented to cider, distilled into brandy, soured into vinegar, boiled into syrup,  cooked down into apple butter, canned as sauce, and of course eaten out of hand.  Other fruits can be treated the same, but not with the versatility of the apple.  During our partnership with the Apple, we have developed its possibilities to a greater degree than any other temperate fruit.  We could make perry from the luscious pear, squeeze the poor plum of its juices for wine, dry the berry and tuck the cherry into a crust of pie; some may even exceed the apple in a sort of sensational deliciousness, but no other fruit matches the apple for its breadth of suitability for various uses, and it is an imminent suitability at that.  Some Apples are tart, some are sweet, some hold their shape when cooked and others fluff into a delicate froth, all to be chosen from for conformation to our tastes and desires.

Just grind and squish. It seems too easy!

Just grind and squish. It seems too easy!

Nor is the apple so cloying as many fruits.  Where the peach the pear the cherry and the grape, can cloy in their rich juicy sweetness, the apple invites eating over a longer season with less tendency to wear out its welcome on the palate.  Large quantities can be consumed, especially if met with at the dining table as well as eaten bite by bite fresh from the hand.  The apple is wholesome food.

Contributing yet more to the welcome which the apple finds with humanity is its breadth of variation in flavor.  Hidden in the genes of Apples are a broader range of flavors than in any other temperate fruit.  Flavors of banana, mango, fennel, almond, strawberry, raspberry, nuts, pineapple, citrus, cherry, rose, vanilla, spices, herbs, pear, wine, “apple”, melon and more can all be found in apples accented with more or less of acidity and sugar.  These flavors, sugars and acids wait to be further mixed together, by breeding and by chance, into infinite combinations to both suit and broaden our tastes.  From the easy edibility of the understated yet harmonious flavor of the Golden Delicious, to the epiphany of the balanced rubinette, to the sensational cherry bubblegum of Sweet 16, to the compelling symphony of flavor in a perfect Golden Russet or the fruit punch flavor of Grenadine, we have them not only in one species of fruit, but with grafting we can have them from just one tree!  Can any other fruit boast this palate of flavors?  I think not.

Newton Pippin

Newton Pippin can taste of watermelon candy and can be had in fine quality out of storage through the winter months.

And all of this over a longer season than any other temperate fruit.  Beginning as early as June in some regions, apples can be plucked ready to eat from the tree from early summer through late winter and probably further on.  While the fine flavored Kerry Pippin is a fond memory of August heat, the Granny smith still clings steadfastly to the tree in mid winter accumulating sugar and flavor.  Granny’s fair daughter Lady Williams clings yet longer to the branch being unsuitable for eating until the end of January.  These fruits and more like them show clearly the possibilities inherent in the apple for an increasingly extended season of fruit straight from the tree.  Add to this already long season the outstanding keeping ability of many of our winter apples and we can, with a little planning and good storage, have quality apples for most, if not all, of the year.  Many of our apples can keep through the winter safe in their protective skins.  Some will keep into spring and even until the following harvest.  The breeder is hard at work developing ever later keeping apples which will come out of long storage in the finest condition and who knows what the limit may be.

In our apples we also have an unprecedented range of form and color.  Solid colors in red, yellow and green.  variously striped with pinks, oranges and reds, washed with flushes and blushes, possessed of sublime translucency or impenetrable opacity, unblemished skins smooth and shining, hanging in un-presuming matte or covered in dusty bloom, overspread with russet and speckled with dots large or small.  The King David demands attention in its redness, the Yarlington mill invites examination with it’s watercolor layers of translucency and cracked map of russet, while the intense red flesh of the Grenadine shines pink through a thin skin covered in speckles.  Artists have time and again been moved to capture the beauty of the apple, It’s bending and refracting of light, its depth and its colors.  Just google apple painting if you doubt me.

Ribbed, smooth, round, lopsided, oval, flat, green, red, yellow, speckled, striped and all manner of nifty...

Ribbed, smooth, round, lopsided, oval, flat, green, red, yellow, speckled, striped and all manner of nifty…

In these varied colors we have apples which can weigh a pound or more, apples the size of large grapes, and everything in between.  They droop from the twig variously in the shapes of cones, pears, ovals as if pulled by gravity, ovals as if to defy gravity, flattened like a doughnut, or merely round.  They are symmetrical or lopsided, ribbed, or blocky.  Long stems or short stems, clinging to branches or hanging at the ends of drooping twigs.  The trees are willowy or stubby and short jointed, a few feet tall to tens of feet tall.  The smallest ones give us dwarfing rootstocks on which to grow miniature trees.  The bark varies nearly as much as the fruit in color and form as does the outline and growing habits of the tree, from a single spire 2 feet in diameter to spreading branches which may even grow downward, instead of horizontal, let alone upward.  They provide us with pleasant shade and deep intriguing orchards that have lured and moved poets, lovers, scientists and children.

Yes, the Apple.  It represents wholesomeness and good things in American culture, a symbolism which is not arbitrary, but which has grown naturally out of it’s virtues.  One could go on cataloging the Apple’s traits and virtues but that could only suggest the possibility of the poetry of the apple, a poetry that we can feel, but which our attempts to express must be mostly inadequate.  We may be better satisfied to hint at the romance of apples rather than to attempt outright description.  Flowery and detailed renditions will likely fail to impress and we had better stick to tracing the subtle, sublime edges– delicately suggesting the outline of a feeling and leaving the imagination to fill in the rest or to just wonder.  Still, spreading trees hanging with fruit or dressed in spring blossoms,  dappled light, tantalizing memories of juicy crunching flesh, washes of vibrant flavor, juice flowing from presses and scents of all kinds stir the feelings and can move one to communicate with our limited symbols so that others might see the beauty and value we have witnessed.
Autumn Days, engraved by the Brothers Dalziel published 1882 by Frederick Walker 1840-1875
The Apple, guided by man’s hand for millennia into ever more varied form and function is at once servant and king, a humble savant, dripping with abundant beauty, inspiration, pleasure and utility in return for so little!  We chop it’s branches and it grows the more.  We throw filth and waste on its roots and it bears forth a miracle of abundance; each dropping fruit bursting with sugar and juice, a miracle in its own beautiful and practical package.


Apples survive in their variety only with our thoughts and our actions.  We either live a culture of meaningful food, or lose it.  Thousands upon thousands of varieties of apples are already lost forever and we lose more every week to the bulldozer, to neglect, to age, or with the passing away of the only person who remembered the name of that old tree by the woodshed, or even cared.  But the bulldozer, the physical neglect, and the fact that we die are not the real enemies of the apple , it is more that we have stopped cohabiting with the apple.  What was once like a spouse, a lover, a child, a sibling, a grandparent, a friend, with which we lived intimately and relied upon, is now reduced to a commodity.  The apple will not thrive without our love and respect, but will instead be reduced to prostitution, it’s production banned to the industrial farm, painted in bright colors and put on the shelves where we can buy her in an attempt to find the love we’ve lost.

photo by Peter Howe

photo by Peter Howe

The apple has fed us and made our lives better for eons, and it is a tragedy that we have all met with so many poor specimens, and even more so that poor apples have simply become the norm.  If apples do not improve, we are at risk of losing our faith in them, as some already have.  But the truth is that when properly selected, grown and handled, the apple is awesome.  If you think you don’t like apples so much, I don’t blame you given what is usually available for sale, but maybe you haven’t met the right one at the right time.

Photo by RasksoS

Photo by RasksoS’

An apple renaissance is afoot and promises to make available to us more and much better apples.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.  Seek out new and interesting apples.  Engage in the simple act of talking about them with friends and strangers.  Support the farmer taking a chance on growing small lumpy apples that taste amazing.  If the apples at the store are no good, don’t buy them, but demand better.   Best of all, Improve your life, improve the lives of others, take care of those who come after you, plant an apple tree.

I stoled this picture off the innernets... sorry.

I borrowed this picture off the innernets somewhere… sorry, and thanks.

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August 18, 2013 - Posted by | Food and Drink Making, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts | , ,

13 Comments »

  1. Here, here my dear friend! The most capital of articles yet put forth by the fine gentleman of Turkeysong! Most inspiring and straight to the point – we need more apples the trees they grow on, and the people who tend them.

    We are getting our first real harvest of Harelsons this year. They are a few weeks away from being done, but man do they look good already! The Rubinettes and the Honeycrisps are bit ugly, but I think we will find a few good specimens that will be fine eating. Keep up the great work Steven!!

    Comment by autonomyacres | August 18, 2013 | Reply

    • thanks Andy, but I knew you’d like it. I might as well have written it just for you! totally check out that Crucifix video. One of my all time favorite bands. Every track ever recorded is good, three albums and a couple things off compilations. Too bad I never got to see them. I saw a few great shows at that club though. Rubinette is outstanding when it’s good. I have chestnut crabs and William’s pride right now, but tons of new varieties coming on!

      Comment by Stevene | August 18, 2013 | Reply

  2. Couln’t agree more, though I was more of a metal fan myself ; )

    ( yeah, I know the lyrics were mostly sexist bollocks but like the guitar playing)

    I’ve planted a mere fifty varieties so far but have plans to plant many many more AND have a go at breeding my own – what could be more fun? Love this blog!

    Comment by Shadiya | August 18, 2013 | Reply

    • I’m totally a metal fan now, but pretty intense stuff like Deicide, Goatwhore and Cradle of Filth. As punk decayed in front of us in an incredibly short space of time, metal was there to coddle us with it’s cynicism and negativity being that way just for the sake of it. The new metal grew out of punk anyway. Slayer, probably the most influencial group on extreme metal was listening to the same American hardcore punk that I was. It was what a lot of the kids growing up listening to early “metal” wanted it to actually sound like… more intense, more violent, more irreverant, not just the imagery set to tame music.

      I’ve found that I just have to plant a shit ton of apples to find what really is going to work here. Plus, the more apples I try, and the more good apples I find, the pickier I become! So, I need even more. I don’t just collect them for the sake of collecting. I can’t wait to cull most of them out and either try more, or just settle on the one dozen, or two dozen keepers that I find. Do you know what parents you are going to use? my take is that we should use mostly varieties that breeders haven’t used, or take the best of modern apples and cross them with apples that breeders will never use, like russets and random intensely flavored apples. I’m becoming more and more interested in small intensely flavored apples like wickson. I assume you read my apple breeding blog posts. My seedlings this year are doing very well. I had 100% take of the grafts onto dwarfing stocks, and they grew very well. Just have to find a place to grow them out now. Please let us all know how breeding goes for you! Hopefully I’ll still be here in five or six years when you have some results! ;)

      Comment by Stevene | August 18, 2013 | Reply

  3. Thank you for this wonderful expose into your past and path. Having been a punk-rocker/metalhead/hippy/skater/freak earlier in this life, with a fascination for ancient traditions and survival. I love the parallels in our stories…. from anger and blame… cynicism and helplessness… to personal responsibility and growth… to an orchard! I’ve started my apple collection very slowly, holding back my apple obsession while not having the space or place to put in roots, but have been branching out (hah), rooting, and have a life goal to plant an orchard of hundreds, both wild and grafted, to preserve, experiment, and maybe “discover” or breed a new variety. So I enjoy all your apple posts and it was great to see how you’ve gotten where you are philosophically.
    However, my first introduction to fasting and altered awareness was through my Islamic parents…. And at my highschool, “apple heads” were, for some reason, what the “freaks” called our arch enemies: the jocks/hicks. I hope that the youth of today are more accepting.

    Comment by Arianna Helen | August 19, 2013 | Reply

    • Arianna: Cool, we should hang out! Freak is generally a positive term around here. It seems like a natural progression that we went through, but I think a lot of people were just in it for the ride and sort of merged into traffic eventually. That’s a lot easier in some ways. I’ve gone from being a complete liberal, fascist, proseletizing (sp?) prick to rarely telling anyone else how they should live their lives. I’m not beyond pointing out what is obvious to me, but not to someone else, but I’ve found that over all it’s better to keep my mouth shut and set an example instead.

      I’m finding that very few of the apples I plant do well here. If you can possibly pull it off, try to trial as much as you can ahead of time. If you have any trees you can graft over, you can easily fit 100 varieties on a medium sized tree just for testing and most of them will begin to fruit in 2 to 3 years.. Another option is to do the oblique cordon system, which I hope to write about soon. They can go as close as 18 inches apart in a row only 2 feet wide. Good for trying out new stuff since they fruit within 2 or 3 years as well. You can always start full sized trees and graft them over, but it will set you back a couple of years when you re-graft. I don’t know what experience or access to tasting you have already, just saying it’s good to know what’s great first. I’m glad to share scion wood with you. I have over 200 varieties, though quite a few are turning out to be mislabeled. Where are you settling?

      Comment by Stevene | August 19, 2013 | Reply

      • 100 varieties on one! That’s exciting news to me. I’m moving to small urban house in Santa Rosa that I’ve been working on over the summer. Visions of an urban food forest! There’s an old tree there with three varieties (gravenstein, pippin, and granny smith) which does well. There’s not a lot of room for more trees so we have to be selective and small scale. Taking out some less desirable trees (privet) will give a tad more space later this year but will probably plant persimmon and pear. The rental I’m transitioning from had a little old tree of unknown variety that I did some frankensteining grafts on as experiments and practice. Some new ones took this year and a gravenstein from last year fruited this year, really fun. I have several root stocks in pots that I’ve grafted, in various stages. I do most of my tree planting at my folks property in Potter Valley but it’s a bit of a commute for me to do any serious ongoing work there right now, so I limit what I do to what is manageable for them, mostly sticking to fulfilling their requests (lots of olives!). My mother is a permie and master gardener so is pretty happy with any help. It’s possible it will be the location of my experimental nursery so you make me think I should be grafting more there to see what does well. I know pears do very well in that valley, not sure about apples.
        As far as tasting goes, when talking about hundreds (or thousands) of varieties, my experience is relatively quite limited for sure. I was excited to see some different varieties in the markets this year and made it a point to try every one, though wish I had taken notes!
        You’re in NorCal right? I’ve gotten scions from the exchange in Boonville.
        Looking forward to your post on the oblique cordon system. I figure if I have another 40 years here, I better get to work :)

        Comment by Arianna Helen | August 21, 2013

      • Apples do well almost everywhere if you find that right varieties. that’s the trick. My evaluations should be useful to potter valley since I’m out of Ukiah. I’m west, so it’s a little cooler probably, but it still could be a starting place. There are probably few or no varieties that would do well for you, but not for me, assuming you PV is considerably hotter, so my success will be a good starting place for you, and I can make some suggestions to try already. Honestly, almost all the apples I’ve tried out of our coop have been a disappointment. I usually take a few bites and feed the rest to the chickens. Every once in a great while I’ll get something good, but usually they are picked too early, over watered, stored too long, or just probably not suited to the environment they were grown in. I hope your experience has been better than mine. Too bad, they have a lot of heirlooms in the fall now. I have to admit to having become extremely picky though. I don’t finish a lot of apples I start eating here either. Other than tasting there and occasional farm visits, I don’t get to taste many apples in their prime, which is why I’m growing so many. If you happen across a really good specimen, at least you know you like it, but a bad example of any apple doesn’t prove much about the potential of the variety to be good.

        In a small yard like that, oblique cordons would seem to be pretty ideal. the row will be literally 2 feet wide as tall as you want (6 to7 feet and you can reach everything, but they can be grown higher and tended with ladders) and as long as you want. They can also be put up against a wall or fence with a little space in between, though with apples overheating might be an issue in our hotter climates. Pears are very well suited to restricted forms too. Sunburn is an issue for both. Not sure how to deal with that yet.

        As far as working onto an existing tree goes, it does require attention and maintenance, and there are limits. I have 140 varieties on frankentree now, but it’s a little crowded… then he’s not that big either. Some of them are too far in the shade to do well or too high to tend easily. On the other hand, some people go over two hundred and obviously you can fit more on a larger tree. Just try to give each one a little space to grow into. As you figure out what you like and don’t like, they can be culled and replaced.

        Re: persimmons, I’m really into the dried persimmons now. tonia turned me on to them. Actually, I made them before, but once I tasted the ones from asia and we dried some properly, I got a lot more interested. What a great food source from a reliable tree that requires almost no care. Very cool. They sure grow slow though and they are hard to get off to a good start. My 6 year old tree finally has a few fruit on it, and it’s still quite small. It’s hard to find foods we can grow that are that calorie dense and satisfying. They’re like gummy bears or something. I’m thinking of investing more in persimmons for drying. I think I like the flat ones better, though I’ve been told that Haichiya, the acorn shaped ones, are good for drying. There are some amazing you tube videos on drying persimmons. The trick is to get the search engine to start searching the asian words in asian characters to find the good ones. here are a few links.




        There is a large USDA collection of persimmons that I think can be ordered by anyone for free. I haven’t had any luck dormant grafting them yet, but may try it again this year. Harmony has a selection of persimmons, but I, and many others, have found commercial bare root trees to be dicey. Still probably your best option.

        I took a lot of scions to the boonville exchange this year. I sometimes go to Sebastopol too, but I find less and less there each year, so it’s basically not worth the trip anymore. I like the boonville exchange. It’s free and there are seeds too. If you want to come by and talk shop and taste apples when you’re around Mendo sometime, that might be fun. You can reach me through the contact link on the turkeysong blog. Also sell at the Ukiah farmer’s market some Saturdays, just not consistently. I may have a few apples to sell there this year depending on how soon the blue jays stop hammering them and start eating acorns instead.

        Comment by Stevene | August 21, 2013

      • Awesome juxtaposition between the hand peeling of persimmons and the robot peeler. I love hachiya persimmons when they are so ripe they’re almost rotten, sweet and soft as pudding. Haven’t tried either types dried, so certainly will try that.
        Something happened to the bare-root persimmon (from Harmony) that we planted two seasons ago. It mysteriously broke at the trunk, either from another tree’s branch falling on it (though not really any evidence of that) or possibly from a raccoon trying to climb up it. It suspiciously broke right at the graft so I wonder if it was just weak. The base, root-stock, is shooting up suckers and I’m not decided what I’ll do with that yet. A nectarine next to it is seriously stunted by it’s little branches getting mysteriously broken off. There’s practically a raccoon infestation that might end up as hats.

        Comment by Arianna Helen | August 27, 2013

      • Ariana: You might as well try grafting one of those persimmon suckers. There are lot’s of scions available at the exchanges. I can’t tell you what the trick is though, since I haven’t had a lot of luck. The trick with the persimmon drying though is to get them when they are still hard. You can peel and dry the soft ones, but they don’t taste as good.

        Comment by Stevene | August 27, 2013

  4. Thank you for your work! I would love to hear your thoughts/experience/suggestions on the oblique cordon system. I have one tree today but would like to have 10 or 20 and it looks like oblique cordon is the way to go.

    Comment by Ben | August 21, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks Ben: I haven’t evaluated the oblique cordon system thoroughly, but it does seem promising. I started sketching out a post on it and hope to get that done before the new year, if not a lot sooner. I think it’s going pretty well for me. the space it takes up is so minimal and the fruit is huge and well colored. adding many varieties to an existing tree works very well too though… or both!

      Comment by Stevene | August 21, 2013 | Reply

  5. I couldn’t agree more about rites of passage, nor our very humble but ultimately deserving of being well lauded, apple. You have given me much to think about regarding rites of passage though and I wonder whether there is something I can work in to help my eldest son (just turned 5) to pass from the rites of preschooler into school aged boy (we’re homeschooling but I think a rite of passage might be a wondrous and helpful thing for him) as well as when my 2 sons and daughters reach maturity (we girls automatically have a rite of passage into womanhood although the journey into legal adulthood is still lost I feel). Anyway, I ramble, but thankyou for this post. My little brain will be a-ticking over it all day and on.

    Comment by rabidlittlehippy | August 28, 2013 | Reply


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