Farm-Fresh, Simple, Effective Skin Care -- Handmade by YOU!

Day 26: Apple Pickin'

There hasn't been time for regular blogging due to beautiful weather. Every spare minute has been spent outdoors working in the garden, or caring for the animals, or cleaning the place for the inclement weather that is surely coming.

This past weekend we went apple picking. It's become a family tradition. We drive up into the foothills and visit several u-pick orchards, returning with pounds of delicious apples. The kids especially love eating the fruit they personally picked.

I find apple trees exceptionally beautiful. We planted one about three years ago. Unfortunately, a stiff wind blew off one main branch and the dog chewed off the other, leaving us with a very misshapen tree. The poor thing is still alive, so I haven't the heart to take it out. Still, this winter we're planning to put in a few more.

Until then, I don't mind the yearly treks up the mountain to the established apple orchards. We love being able to talk with the owners of the orchards, who always share tips on where to find the best fruits and great apple recipes. Plus, it feels good to support these local growers.

Maybe I'll even try my hand at baking (rather than buying) an apple pie!

Homesteader's Tip: Most apple trees need a fair amount of winter chill to properly set fruit. If you live in an area where temps regularly drop below freezing you could probably easily grow apples.

For those of us in the more temperate areas of California, though, this is rarely the case. But there are low-chill varieties that may work well where you live. These varieties need about one-third the amount chill time than others. These trees will be labeled as "Low Chill" at your local nursery.

If you're short on space, you can grow several kinds of apples on just one tree! Branches of different varieties are grafted onto one root stock, or "trunk". One tree can bear golden delicious, fuji, jonathan, braeburn, and more. Dwarf trees are especially great for small gardens.

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