Friday, September 16, 2011

Our Glorious Orchard


Glorious orchard? No such thing. We have trees here, trees there; trees that bear, trees that fail every year; trees that have grown into real, honest-to-God climbable trees, trees that look like little more than sticks. And not a whole lot of fruit.


A few days ago, Anna asked how many fruit trees and blackberry canes we have. Well! Let's take a little verbal tour of the Blackrock orchard-that-is-not-an-orchard, shall we?

In the paddock by the house, we have one apple tree that produces a few gnarled, nasty-looking apples a year that we don't even eat. I don't know what variety it is, either. So, it's maybe a little neglected. Perhaps if we pruned it or sprayed it or something, we might get some usable fruit from it. Perhaps if I had the time to do that, I would use that time to do something more fun.

But at least that apple tree didn't get murdered by the sheep, like the other one in the paddock did last year. See, if the sheep (and by "sheep" I mean only the Cotswolds--the Merinos aren't destructive at all) are in there when the trees have leaves, they'll plant their Satanic cloven hooves right on the trunk to reach the branches. So what happens when a 200-pound sheep climbs up a spindly tree trunk? Yup. Snap. And so much for that tree.

Horrid sheep.


Also in the paddock is the Seckle pear tree, which is large enough to withstand sheep attacks and also produces some fruit we actually eat. Unlike the OTHER pear tree in the paddock, which fell victim to the climbing sheep this very summer.

God, I hate those wretched ovines sometimes.


The front lawn is home to two pear trees and an apple tree that we planted last summer. There was another apple tree, but it died. Not because of the sheep, though. They don't go on the front lawn. We have yet to get any fruit from these young trees.

Also on the front lawn is a medlar tree. Don't know what medlars are? Yeah, me neither. Apparently, they were quite popular in medieval times, but I have no idea what they taste like. That tree does produce fruits, but we've never figured out when to pick them. I think they're one of those weird fruits that are supposed to be harvested when they're as close to rotten as they can be without being actually putrid. Sounds appetizing, right? Right. Which is why I don't really get too worked up about the medlars.

Okay! Now to the back of the property!

In the ram pasture we have a plum tree that seems to have a few baby plums on it in the spring, but never manages to get those plums to the edible stage. Also there was an apple tree that did produce fruit, except none of us really liked the apples from that tree, so we never really did much with them. It died last winter anyway, so it doesn't matter. The small Anjou pear tree in the ram pasture also kicked it last winter, which leaves the quite large standard Bosc pear tree that produces a lot of pears every few years and can survive having the sheep in there with it.

Oh, and the mulberry tree is also in the ram pasture.

In the main pasture right behind the ram pasture is a paw paw tree that has INSANE numbers of paw paws on it this year. Once again, I have no idea what a paw paw tastes like, as I've never actually eaten any of the fruits from that tree. Maybe I will this year, just to try it. We also have a persimmon tree in the main pasture that bears well for us. We eat some of the persimmons, but you have to get them at JUST the right stage. If they're even the least bit unripe, the taste and dry feeling they produce in your mouth will make you want to rip your tongue out. And once they're soft enough to eat, they get too soft pretty quickly.

Tricky, those persimmons.

As for blackberry canes, I really have no idea how many we have. Not a ton. In a normal year, there are probably only a dozen or so canes that bear fruit. I'm not a huge fan of blackberries anyway. Too many seeds. Good for jelly, though.

We also have about half a dozen mostly neglected Concord grape vines that nevertheless always produce grapes for us. Cubby loves them. Lately he's been entertaining himself while I harvest things in the garden by standing by the grape vines and eating the grapes one by one. That child's love of fruits and vegetables has been my saving grace. From the asparagus to the corn to the grapes, feeding him raw produce from the garden is the only way I get anything done.


So there you have it! Our sad and mostly useless collection of fruit-producing plants. I guess I'd better stick to the tomatoes.


Anna said...

Sounds a lot like the "orchard" on my parents' farm!
two apple trees that were only good for applesauce,
a cherry tree that we shared with the birds (don't think I ever ate anything from that tree!),
a plum tree that produced about a dozen plums a year,
a peach tree that produced about 3 peaches the whole time it was alive,
tons of blackberries and concord grapes - for jelly and jam,
and wild persimmons we shared with deer.

Thanks for the tour of yours!

Anonymous said...

"A fruit, vulgarly called an open arse; of which it is more truly than delicately said, that it is never ripe till it is as rotten as a turd, and then it is not worth a fart."
This description also gives an indication of the other unusual property of the medlar, the fact that it is inedible until it has begun to rot. This process called "bletting" can occur while the fruit is attached to the tree after frost, or can be achieved by picking the ripe fruit and storing them in a cool dry place. Either way the hard cream flesh breaks down into a soft brown pulp. It is this pulp that is consumed in on form or another. Common ways to eat this fruit pulp is simply sweetened (or not) with port, made into jellys, "cheese "and creams.

Information courtesy of our friend the internet. I'm sorry, I just had to look it up.
I think I'll pass.

Daisy said...

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.
Anyway, it's tomato time.

erin @ from city to farm said...

Ahhh, sheep. Right now, the goats that came with our sheep are making the sheep look like angels. But grr, they really can inspire some vengeful thoughts! Your post made me smile! :)