Heirloom Zoo DONE

It’s not a bumper year in our madly mixed heirloom orchard, downhill in “Two Below the Barn.” It opened Saturday 10/13, our best bet on the best time for the best number of varieties to be enjoyable and pickable. Since then there was steady picking even in bum weather. We didn’t hear complaints, so thanks for that!

CLICK for variety chart 


AHEM! We know many of you look forward to this orchard’s opening and plan for it. That’s delightful, except for the very few groups who over-plan, organizing with walkie-talkies and such to get the biggest hauls of their favorite varieties.
We can’t stop that kind of behavior. But we want it clear that we open this unique orchard hoping for the greatest number of people to explore and pick the greatest diversity of apples. So we really hope the get-em-all strategists who have targeted certain varieties in the past will just – stop that.
Oh and BTW, the occasional visitors we’ve already seen tiptoeing down around the barn to sneak some premature picking – we’ve politely assumed they were lost and gently sent them back up … ahem. CLICK for variety chart 

Grafting in trial orchard, 30+ years ago

BACKGROUND: This orchard exists because, during the seventies and eighties, we searched out rare apple varieties that would grow to perfection in our particular fields.  The quickest way to try out an apple variety is to graft a stick of it onto a mature tree of another variety.  The stick (or “scion”) will grow into a branch and bear apples in two or three years. (Growing a bearing tree from scratch takes both several years and precious space.) This way, it’s possible to use a mature orchard to test scores of unfamiliar varieties. It’s how we figured out out which would grow well and reach their highest quality in our fields.
Grafting leads to more grafting – when  a variety totally wowed us, we grafted the whole tree over to it and,  eventually, sent grafting wood off to nurseries, to graft baby trees, to plant our new orchards full of fabulous, hard-to-find apples. George Washington ate this one (Golden Russet)! Thomas Jefferson’s planted this one (Esopus Spitzenberg)!  Some Oregon fruit nut discovered, prized, & propagated this accidental seedling (Hudson’s Golden Gem)!  We needed nasty-tasting varieties that make way better fermented cider than nice-tasting apples ever could (Dabinett, Bulmer’s Norman, Chisel Jersey, & more!)
So now the trial orchard still stands, offering scores of different apples, most for eating but some for cidermaking, not all so great but all interesting, ripening every fall for people to explore and enjoy. For us it’s not just fun but a record of many many experiments and decisions. For most folks it’s an eye-opener! Seeing these apples also implies that other familiar fruits are usually as genetically diverse as apples – wow. Hmm.  Juicy education.
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