Picking up apples is a good thing
November 8, 2011
By Jane Garrison
Old town Issaquah is about as good as it gets on a sunny day.
On such a day last month, I had the privilege of being a docent at the old Gilman Town Hall Museum on Andrews Street. In the back of the museum on the neighbor’s property is a wonderful, old apple tree, and while nobody had a good crop of apples around here this year, this tree was loaded. They are beautiful, deep-red apples with a subtle, winey taste. You can bet I was thrilled when the owner offered a basket of them to me.
I asked him what kind they were and he didn’t know. He said they were very old; the tree had been there since the early days. These apples looked like McIntosh to me, like the ones on my tree at home. I checked it out, and I’m convinced that they are. McIntosh is one of the older varieties, developed in Eastern Canada at the beginning of the 19th century. They are very cold hardy, tough trees. I have to say that mine in glacial till on the plateau is not nearly as happy as this one in the good, deep soil of the Issaquah Valley.
It impressed me that the owner was picking up the apples as soon as they fell. He said he would make cider from the windfall and didn’t care about a few bruises, marks or even bugs. He was doing something really good by picking up those apples right away. Our two worst apple insect infestations, apple maggot and codling moth, come from apples left lying around on the ground. They both can be controlled organically by keeping the fruit and debris picked up under the trees. That tree had never been sprayed, as far as he knew. The apples he gave me were flawless.
The maggot and the moth overwinter in the ground as worms and emerge in spring as flies and moths. To complete their cycle, they cavort around for a while and finally crawl back into the ripening fruit to lay their eggs in summer. Because of their ability to overwinter in soil, it is recommended that you don’t even throw infested droppings in the compost pile. Send it to the landfill. Yellow sticky traps are available if you need more help.
That day at the museum was magical. It seemed as though I had stepped back 50 years in history. The day was warm, the birds were tweeting and the neighbors were downright neighborly. Life doesn’t have to be all crazy traffic and noisy box stores. Get away from it, park the car and enjoy old Issaquah. It’s even nice on a crisp, cold day in winter.
Jane Garrison is a local landscape architect and master gardener who gardens in glacial till on the plateau.
Master gardening clinics are finished for the year. You can still reach master gardeners through the Center for Urban Horticulture 206-685-5104 and online at http://kingcountymg.org.