There is an ancient apple tree growing in the semi-wilderness behind our kitchen. You couldn’t call this tree beautiful; it had been neglected for many years by previous owners and had large sections that had died off. What wasn’t dead was overgrown and ratty looking. Every year, though, it valiantly produced a crop of apples. Here’s a picture of Old Faithful:
When I wouldn’t let my husband cut down the tree completely, he hacked off most of the dead limbs, fertilized, and watered it to see what would happen. This seemed to confuse the apple tree, which flowered in December and produced a mini-crop of tiny apples in late February. We worried that those little apples of confusion were all we would see this year, but we were dead wrong.
This year’s apples were the best ever, and there have been so many of them that we keep filling up a five-gallon bucket in the kitchen with new ones.
I use the lazy person’s harvesting method of waiting until the apples fall on the ground and then going out every few days while I let the dog out and picking them up in my apron. Luckily, the ground under the tree is soft and there isn’t much bruising at all.
Here are some of the latest apples, cut up and waiting to go in an apple crisp:
I think they are Gravensteins, the apple that used to be the dominant crop of the north San Francisco Bay until the vineyards started eating up the apple orchards.