My husband, like a lot of people, planted fruit trees because of childhood memories – his family in Germany had gardens and orchards in their back yards, and he remembered how much better an apple, or any fruit for that matter, tastes fresh off the tree.
Me too. My grandmother loved her plums and peaches and apricots, and my grandfather grew walnuts as big as a child’s fist. That was our lifestyle – growing it, picking it, eating it, setting it aside for winter. Our kitchen was full of fruit all summer, ripening on window sills, stuffed into any jar my grandmother could get ahold of. Our living room rug was always full of nutshells at Thanksgiving time. My grandma put the nut meats into salvaged plastic or cellophane bags, and then wrapped them up with old paper bags and string, and sent them by mail to relatives all over the state.
By November our persimmon tree would be covered with heavy softball-size fruit. We ate those right off the tree too – you just have to have a taste for the slushy, mushy, native persimmon. We’d slice them in half and eat the pulp. Some people are pretty disgusted, but the taste is beyond sweet – it’s rich. Not everybody can appreciate a fresh persimmon, but, I never met anybody who could turn down a persimmon cookie – I don’t have a tree, and haven’t made those in years. My grandma made the best persimmon cookies around, and when we moved off to the city, she would load them into an empty cereal box and wrap it up with brown bag paper and string, and send it to us. I remember one mail man, smelling the box, asking us what the heck was in there! We had to show him – he said he’d never had anything like that before, what the heck was a persimmon? We thought he was the dumbest man we’d ever encountered.
But my family never had apples, and my husband was too little to remember anything, so we’ve just been playing it by ear here. Every year we’ve got a few dozen good apples, oftentimes a whole refrigerator bin full, but never anything like this year. The Fuji’s paid off okay, and we’ve got some other little Fuji types coming in, but we have two small trees full of these green apples.
I was just reading a gardening column, supposedly locally written, saying now’s the time to harvest your peaches?
We stripped our peach trees almost a month ago. Something I’ve learned about growing fruit and vegetables – it’s never the same, year to year, you have to learn as you go along, and pay attention. I thought these apples would not come in til later in September, but when I went out there the other day the jays and squirrels were already having at them. So, I take a basket out in the evening and again in the morning and pick what I can carry. I cleaned out the bottom bin in my fridge and I’ll put away as many as I can. I’ve found my garage gets too hot in the afternoon to store fruit very well, so I’ll just keep as many in the fridge as I can and then juice and eat them as fast as I can. The juice keeps great in the freezer, it’s so nice to have so much and not have to be stingy. Store-bought juice is so expensive I feel like I have to dole it out with an eyedropper. And, it’s hard to find juice at the store that hasn’t had sugar added.
When I went outside this morning, Venus and Jupiter were so bright, they looked like flashlight beams. I watched Venus climb the branches of my neighbor’s old Sequoia, until the rising sun blotted her out.
Well, another day, let’s see what happens.