Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's raining apples!

For someone who didn’t lift a finger to garden this season, I’ve got more natural food than I know what to do with!

Our weather pattern wasn’t great for crops, so I’m glad I didn’t go through the usual trouble. Everybody’s gardens produced, just not great, and caused a lot of worrying and griping.

But it was a superb year for wildflowers and fruits.

Our raspberry patch went crazy—we probably put 30+ pounds into the freezer. The blueberries were good, too, but at the time they peaked we were very busy and there was frequent rain so we missed the bulk of the harvest.

But apples!

Oh my. Only once before have we gotten this many, and I was at a loss for how to deal with them. Wouldn’t be a problem if I were a dedicated baker. But I’m not, and even if I were, our household diet has sugar and starch restrictions. So vast quantities of baked goodies are the wrong plan.

Happily, in the two years since the last bumper crop, I’ve acquired friends who both cook and have chickens. So in installments I’ve been handing off bags and bushel baskets instead of lobbing them into the field, dumping wheelbarrow loads in the woods, or taking bag loads to the dump and food shelf.

Why not just ignore them, you ask, or compost them in a heap?

First of all, they’re falling on the lawn in a path of regular travel, both foot and vehicle. We don’t mow zealously so the grass is tall enough to mask many of them. Stepping on one unawares is a fast way to get a sprained ankle.

Second, they start to stink after a while. And attract yellow jackets. And bears. For a few weeks, when the tree dropped only 5-10 a day, the neighborhood raccoon and deer would pass through overnight and clear them up. But that abruptly stopped, and suddenly I had dozens. Then the tree started throwing down 3-4 dozen more each day!

All this from one old scaggy thing that’s never pruned or sprayed or otherwise cultivated. It’s the last tree left anywhere near the house after our pine log-out, and the only place I can hang bird feeders any more.

Actually, this tree is two intertwined. I didn’t know that until the previous bumper crop, when half of it produced red McIntosh apples and the other half produced Golden Delicious. The Goldies don’t start falling until the Macs are about done, making for many weeks of daily pickup and weekly disposal dilemmas. At least this year they are providing more food than waste, instead of the other way around!

(Of course, acrobat kittens don’t help!)