Author Topic: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?  (Read 28706 times)

Offline ladieu

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40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« on: October 21, 2009, 03:13:53 PM »
Ok so I am new to TSP. I bought some land, 2 acres, a few years ago. On this land I have around 40 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 1 walnut tree, 1 HUGE chestnut tree, and 2 pear trees.  

The previous owner used to sell to local farmers markets or something like that as a retirement.   When I took over the house he had been dead for many years already and his widow had let everything run wild.  Now some of the trees look very sickly and some are looking very strong.  

The majority of the trees are smashed into a quarter acre tract in the rear of the property and then I have a random smattering of fruit trees throughout the rest of the yard.

I was thinking I would remove the sickly ones and then prune the stronger ones. Should I just prune them all and let the sickly ones come back to health? I'm feeling overwhelmed by all these trees!

What is the best way to approach a local farmers market or grocery?  What do I need to do to sell this as "organic"  

Can I prune now with it being so close to winter or should I wait until winter is over?  

I take some apples every year, but 99% of the apples just fall off and rot on the ground and as a new urban survivalist I can't abide all this waste!! This tree situation is stressing me the heck out. This might seem like a dream situation for a survivalist to find himself in, but for me this has all the makings of another full time job.

So do I get out the loppers or the chainsaw?

I posted this also to the  regional board on here. I am in pittsburgh PA

The apples are pretty good. Any apple experts able to identify the type?




« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 03:15:56 PM by ladieu »

Offline ubergeek

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2009, 03:23:08 PM »
Eat some, sell some, can some, make apple sauce, can some apple sauce, apple cider, apple wine...give what you can't use away, or buy some buckets and let people pick a bucket full for $x, just a few ideas. No reason to let it go to waste.

Offline Herbalpagan

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2009, 03:58:57 PM »
You have a gold mine! If you know what you are doing, just prune (no more than 1/3 in any year). If you don't get some guy who knows to come in and do it for you or show you how.
Fruit is good for your stockpile, but you can also make juice (FREE, 100% pure and all your own!)
You can also make a few bucks and maybe even pay the taxes on the land and house with it. That's being a homestead and self sufficient!

Offline KYdoomer

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2009, 04:01:44 PM »
You will want to wait until the heart of winter when the trees are good and dormant.

Trim everything from 3 feet up down near the trunk.  Don't leave stubs.

Don't prune too much on apple trees.

Remove any branches pointing down or contacting other branches.

Your goal is to remove branches that obstruct light.  This is an artform.

Oh and I'd prune the sickly ones and hope they come back.  Learn to can and dry.  When that becomes boring, give them away.  I'll send you my address!  LOL

J
« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 04:06:49 PM by KYdoomer »

Offline KYdoomer

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2009, 04:07:24 PM »
Variety looks like winesap, honeycrisp or some "delicious" hybrid.

J

Offline HelenWheels

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2009, 04:09:03 PM »
Just a thought..

What trees you do cut down, maybe you could cut and season the wood for sale later for applewood smoking chips.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2009, 05:11:39 PM »
Ok so I am new to TSP. I bought some land, 2 acres, a few years ago. On this land I have around 40 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 1 walnut tree, 1 HUGE chestnut tree, and 2 pear trees.  
What is the best way to approach a local farmers market or grocery?  What do I need to do to sell this as "organic"  
Can I prune now with it being so close to winter or should I wait until winter is over?  
I take some apples every year, but 99% of the apples just fall off and rot on the ground and as a new urban survivalist I can't abide all this waste!! This tree situation is stressing me the heck out. This might seem like a dream situation for a survivalist to find himself in, but for me this has all the makings of another full time job.
So do I get out the loppers or the chainsaw?I posted this also to the  regional board on here. I am in pittsburgh PA
The apples are pretty good. Any apple experts able to identify the type?
Wow I consider you EXTREMELY blessed if you're not afraid of a little hard work and it doesn't sound as if you are. I think you got great answers from everyone who posted so far. First I think the apples are possibly called Maiden Blush but I am absolutely not an expert - we had a tree with those and the picture looks similar. Maiden Blush originated back east (Philadelphia I think) although we are in Colorado.  As far as what is organic - don't use any pesticides or treatments/waxes and I think you are well within the guidelines of calling them organic. I'm sure your apples would sell easily.  I know I'd buy some if you were close.  Visit your local farmers market and find out who's in charge and ask what it takes to sell there.  Sometimes you can find this info on the internet by just typing in farmers market and your area as I found this info when I was looking to supplement some of the stuff we don't grow. You could also check the Backwoods Home Magazine website (www.backwoodshome.com) for info as they are a treasure trove of good stuff especially the Ask Jackie column - you can even email her for answers.  She grows a lot of things and I'm sure has some good advice. As far a a second full time job - could it replace your first or if there is a spouse, theirs? Or if there are children could they be recruited to help?  Could you become totally self-sufficient by doing you job and selling apples for a while and then make it your only job? Could you set up a fruit stand on the weekends on your property to sell homemade apple cider, applesauce, etc. and of course ORGANIC apples?  I guess I see infinite possibilities on your two acres.  I know I would try to make it work somehow because this opportunity could take you on the route of becoming a totally self-sufficient ant.  Wishing you good luck and many blessings.  Keep us posted as to how it goes!!  TBM

Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2009, 07:03:39 AM »
Thanks for the pep talk guys. I know I am blessed with this land even though my consumer mindset didn't even consider this an asset when I purchased the house, now after listening to TSP it has my mind swirling but I feel so overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of things I have going on at the moment that it just makes me do nothing.

I have a few trees that have fallen and I did have a lot of interest in friends wanting apple chips or chunks for smoking so that is definitely something people want.  Looks like you can sell a burlap sak of dried chunks of apple wood for $5.

I do have a follow-up question. I was out inspecting the apples this past weekend and ended up kicking up a hive. I got stung 30+ times. Should I go in with some hornet/wasp spray and nuke them or is there a better way to deal with them?

As for knowing what I am doing? I have absolutely no clue! I have no kids...yet. I'll be turning 32 this month so were thinking that kids are a year away at most. It would be great to have this thing going while I have the time now. I'm thinking it might be worth it to pay a tree service to just to do the initial trim and cleanup of the orchard, I had considered that possibility as I have a very strong DIY mindset, but in this case my logic is that the tree service could get me up to that maintenance mode I need to be in and take away a lot of the stress of this endeavor. 

A friend had suggested that the local agriculture departments have tons of free info and pamphlets they can give you that have information on organic fruit trees so I will look into that and post the results.

I'll be researching and compiling a list of local farmers markets. If I have any success I'll report back with the results of this project if anyone is at all interested in how this goes. Also if anyone is in the PGH area feel free to look me up.   

I had a bunch of things I want to make and I'm sure the list will grow. If anyone spots a good used cider press I am looking..




Offline KYdoomer

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2009, 07:36:23 AM »
My advice is to not go near the nest.  You've done the hard work by finding it.  Wait until Winter when they go dormant then go into seek and destroy mode.  There should be no risk of stings.  Its turning colder here now.  I was able to find our yellow jacket queen by sheer circumstance and dispatch her quickly.  You and I may get crap for this but the use for hornets to kill bad insects is much overshadowed by their ability to inflict pain and ruin a good time in the orchard.

While you are calling the local universities, you may ask them if any of their professors would be interested in bringing a class out to your location and having him teach you and them the pruning methods.  Just an idea.  If nothing else, watch the tree service closely, I'm sure they wouldn't mind telling you what they are doing as well.  That way you only need to rely on someone else once and then you'll have that knowledge forever.

I'm jealous though, you've got a good setup.

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2009, 07:42:01 AM »
You could just get some neighbor kids together to pick them.  Then stick a big hand-painted sign at your driveway announcing apples for sale.

Offline SigMan34

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2009, 01:02:38 PM »
ladieu, don't feel like the lone ranger......or fruit farmer. I've been living in my current location for six years with old overgrown, uncared for apple and pear trees (only four trees though!) that were only a pain in the butt due to the drops falling on the ground. Once I got connected to TSP and interested in prepping a couple months ago, I realized I was crazy for not trying to save the fruit.

So I guess you 'n' me better get out the pruning tools come January/February!!! It'll be an interesting challenge, don't you think? I haven't even begun my research yet, but the good folks here have me pointed in the right direction. Check this out:    http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=9784.msg108005#msg108005   
« Last Edit: October 22, 2009, 01:07:17 PM by SigMan34 »

Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2009, 01:12:08 PM »
Yeah for sure man! Thanks for checking in. Glad I'm not the only one eating store bought fruit while enough fruit to stock the grocery store 10 times over rots in the backyard! ha ha.

Keep me posted on your success.

Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2009, 01:18:50 PM »
Just read your thread and subscribed. I ordered that "backyard orchardist"  book a few days ago so hopefully that will deliver the goods.

Once I get these pruned I'll make some videos for the benefit of the community. EIther a "how to" if it works out for me, or a "what not to do" if it doesn't

Either way...

;)

Offline jbritely

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2009, 01:50:26 PM »
There are a few "pick your own" apple farms near me that seem to do very well.  You could keep it small and just offer to friends and family too: come pick some apples.  The bad ones go into apple cider.

Offline SigMan34

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2009, 01:56:47 PM »
Yeah for sure man! Thanks for checking in. Glad I'm not the only one eating store bought fruit while enough fruit to stock the grocery store 10 times over rots in the backyard! ha ha.

Keep me posted on your success.

I sure will. I have to take before/after photos, as well. Too bad I already missed shots of the grass full of half-rotten drops!!!  :-[

My right knee is sore from trying so hard to kick myself in the butt for not getting with this program (and so much more) sooner. Better late than never, I hope.

Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2009, 02:03:46 PM »
you sound more diligent than me. I just run the rotting fruit over with the lawnmower or just let it lay. Sadly the walnuts and chestnuts suffer the same fate. A few years back I harvested a few bushels of chestnuts, now that is just a terrible job. Even with thick gloves those things really get you.  I'm sure there is a better way, I'll search for some youtube videos.

I'll take some pictures of everything I have going on this weekend.  One bad thing is the orchard is fenced off from the rest of my yard, so rerouting the fence is yet another major project, or else I won't be able to drive my truck to that part of the yard (god I'm such a red neck!)


Offline SigMan34

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2009, 02:10:39 PM »
Whoa, you're getting the wrong idea...........I'm not diligent.........the drops were just pitched into the wooded area outside the lawn --- preferably before they turned to mush!   ;)

Hey, hey, don't be using "redneck" in a negative sense around me now!!!  ;D  Some of my best friends and ALL my relatives (and therefore, me too) are rednecks!!!

Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2009, 02:33:29 PM »
ha ha, not a problem. I just never pictured myself as someone who would be driving an old beatup pickup truck around their yard. A pickup truck that never leaves the yard in fact... but I actually digging it so its more of a badge of honor now

Offline mash

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2009, 05:22:24 PM »
Plenty of rural land owners here in Australia have old beat-up Land Cruisers that have not been registered for 10 years, just to drive around the property!

Ladieu, I have to agree with the other people that have answered above, don't cut down any of those trees until you know what you have... With a little TLC one of them might come back strong and turn out to be your best producer!

I ordered this book but have not got it yet... http://www.amazon.com/Apple-Grower-Guide-Organic-Orchardist/dp/1931498911/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256253166&sr=8-1 It's got some good reviews though.

If you got some chickens they would do a pretty good job of cleaning up all the apples that drop. Less work for you, they eat all the bugs that want to live in the rotten fruit, plus you get eggs out of it!

It would probably be fine to call your stuff organic, but you wouldn't be able to call it "certified organic" without getting certification... just a thought.

Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2009, 07:28:10 AM »
Dudes,

took a quick vid of the current state of my orchard. Plan to follow up after I start my prune

Orchard Rehabilitation #1

Offline Dawgus

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2009, 10:29:35 AM »
 We had a similar situation here at home. Next door is whats left of a 5 acre apple orchard. Besides the apple trees, there are blackberries, pears, and grapes. The owner rents the house, and neither he or the tenants do anything at all with the produce. The owner was happy to let me prune and take care of whats left. (several were just too far gone or lost during storms) His tenant mows that 5 acres with a lawn tractor, and I mow with the LoBoy when I can just to help out. (sure its brown-nosing but it helps keep good terms with the owner)
 Every year we pick apples and can applesause and pie filling. The grapes and berries go to jam and jelly, and the pear to preserves. This year alone we got 35 qts of applesauce, 30qts pie filling, 45lbs blackberries, and ended up with over 50 1/2 pint jars of  grape jelly...all for nothing but a bit of my time next door. Last year in one weekend i managed to get 14 5 gallon buckets of grapes.
 I started a small local urban homesteading group in my area,and I barter apples with other members for other produce or items. This year I got honey, chickens, feeders, and even hard cider for trading apples that aren't even mine! You could always try something like this and find locals to barter for other goods, it's worked out great for me. Baret is a great thing many people overlook.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2009, 10:38:07 AM »
Every year we pick apples and can applesause and pie filling. The grapes and berries go to jam and jelly, and the pear to preserves. This year alone we got 35 qts of applesauce, 30qts pie filling, 45lbs blackberries, and ended up with over 50 1/2 pint jars of  grape jelly...all for nothing but a bit of my time next door. 

I'm so jealous!!  So cool that it was free except for your sweat and playing nice! Ah what preppers can do when they think like preppers.

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2009, 10:40:09 AM »
Ladiue,
Where are you in general location to Pittsburgh? Shoot me a PM. There is still a commerical cider press about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh, and there is also a roving tree pruner working these parts who is VERY good. Here is a link from my wife's old blog........
http://grannymillerblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/apple-trees.html

Offline cohutt

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2009, 03:01:22 PM »

Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2010, 07:50:10 AM »
Thanks for the links, I'll be in touch.

Offline Cool Blue

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2010, 08:03:19 AM »
If you need help picking and pruning I'd suggest contacting a local food bank/church group.

Offer to give them half of the harvest for helping you.


Offline Stein

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2010, 10:49:39 AM »
If you need help picking and pruning I'd suggest contacting a local food bank/church group.

Offer to give them half of the harvest for helping you.



That's the line of thought I had.  I would make a few calls to county extensions that may offer pruning classes and offer my trees if they need a place to hold the class.  I would also think about craigslist posts, as we would rather see someone get free apples than watch them rot.

Offline Crispy Critter

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2010, 10:34:56 AM »
Ladieu...and other orchardists. I FEEL YOUR PAIN!

I worked a 400+ peach tree orchard for two seasons here in central Texas. I took the orchard over from an individual who inherited it from her father. He was an amazing orchardist...she didn't inherit her father's passion for fruit trees. So, I entered the orchard of 12+ year-old trees which had not been pruned for 3-4 years. It was my first major pruning job and took over two weeks to complete. I had to develop a method that would vary the physical tasks being performed. I broke the tasks down into the following chores (bear in mind, peach trees are pruned in a 'bowl' fashion, allowing light and air circulation in the middle of the tree as well as the outer perimeter branches and limbs, therefore I was pruning limbs anywhere from 4" diameter to 1/2" diameter "fountain" shoots). Varying my chores kept my muscles from turning into knotted burl from using loppers above my head for 12-14 hours. Breaking this daunting task into individual chores made for pleasant work at whatever pace I could handle. Remember that safety goggles, gloves and hearing protection (chainsaw, chipper) are absolutely necessary for this task. Also, it is critical...I mean absolutely CRITICAL that you do not go into your orchard to start pruning unless you have notified a family member or neighbor (or bring a really smart dog!). I only make this point due to the age and size of trees you will be working with. I'm guessing your experience with the hornets has put you on guard, as well.

NEVER TAKE OUT MORE THAN 1/3 OF A TREE'S CANOPY PER YEAR!

0) create a map of your orchard, carry a COPY with you along with a good pencil - update the map each time you visit; map every tree, path, fence line, irrigation line, sprinkler/emitter, etc.
1) mark limbs for removal with colored surveyor's tape; (whenever I would reach my physical limit of pruning, I'd drop my tools and just start moseying through the orchard, marking limbs which needed removal)
2) inspect each individual tree for disease and/or damage, mark diseased limbs with a different color tape so they can be destroyed; make corresponding mark on your map;
3) inspect mulch depth and irrigation lines/system if applicable;
4) remove "fountain" suckers;
5) remove large limbs from ground/ladder/climbing inside "bowl";
6) remove limbs crossing another or growing in toward center trunk;
7) have a chipper available so you can chip on those days when you simply cannot prune another twig;
8) keep your chainsaw sharp, sharp, sharp!!
9) use a dilute 10-percent bleach solution in a spray bottle to disinfect your cutting tools after finished with a tree (even the chainsaw, though it might not be needed due to the heat generated by the chain and bar...anybody have input on this?) - this solution will help prevent the spread of any disease between trees due to your own actions;
10) take a break every now and then, admire your work, admire your setting (thank your lucky stars if you are so inclined), take a deep breath and get back to it!
11) okay, so not all of these are actual tasks, I just didn't want to reformat my message...it's getting sunny outside and I'm feeling the beckon call of a garden bed needing my attention.

I hope these observations are helpful. If I think of anything else, I'll add it to this thread. I can't wait to hear about your progress.


Offline ladieu

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2010, 07:18:01 AM »
Thanks for taking the time to reply! I'll be doing my first round of pruning this weekend! I'll take some pics and post them here.

Offline Crispy Critter

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Re: 40+ apple and fruit trees. What the heck can I do with these?
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2010, 08:08:56 PM »
One other thing I forgot, try to make your pruning cuts about 1/8-1/4 inch above any terminal buds. (Other orchardists, please correct me if I am wrong. I have only worked with five apple trees in the past.) Proper pruning cuts make for a more productive tree. Cutting too long (i.e. too far away from a terminal bud) creates small sections of dead wood at the end of your branch. Cutting too close has a negative affect on any growth coming from the terminal bud. That said, don't be intimidated. Have a good look at each tree before you make the first cut. Plan on how to make the least number of cuts to create your desired effect. Review your work after you've made a few major cuts. Revise your pruning plan accordingly. I'll post more of my orchard experiences as they surface.