It’s a wonderful season for apples and so much more!
This time of year is one of my favourites and especially with the great weather we have been experiencing recently. I think we are so blessed to be living in a region with such diverse field and food crops in our different seasons. At this time of year, I especially love that crisp mouth-watering bite of a freshly harvested apple.
Apples have been important food ever since the first settlers brought them here!
The orchard would be considered a Canadian homestead staple. We have a long and proud history of growing apples. They were first brought over by European settlers in the 17th century. Depending on the amount of cleared land and the region, our ancestors would plant a small orchard of apples, pears and maybe plums for a food source in the fall and into the winter months as well as another source of income for the family. Apples were the most important fall harvest for our pioneers. From the early vulnerable varieties, they would dry and preserve them for a source of fruit for the long cold winter. The hardy later varieties would be kept in cold storage and the spent windfalls would be pressed & juiced for cider.
The Pippin, Baldwin, and Greening are few of the early varieties of apples brought here that date back to the late 1600s. Another old apple was the Snow which too has a long lineage brought from France to southern Quebec in the early 1700s. This apple named for its snow-white flesh is said it may be one of the parents of the McIntosh variety.
My favourite apple
Growing up on a century-old farmstead just north of London, the favourite apple I picked from our little orchard was the Spy. This fruit was large, crisp and juicy and the best part is, my Mom would make us delicious apple pie from these apples.
A couple of years ago (according to Agriculture Canada), Ontario was the largest apple-producing province in Canada. Besides growing those good old favourites such as McIntosh, Empire, Spy, Paula Red, Idared, and Spartan, there have been more orchards growing varieties such as Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Ambrosia. These varieties have become very popular and often are the apples of choice for local market-goers.
Grow your own
Growing fruit trees in the home garden can be challenging endeavour as my husband & I have found. Apple growers need:
- two cultivars for pollination to set the fruit
- a location with full sun and good well-drained soil
- the best hardy and disease-resistant varieties for your area.
- proper pruning in early spring (We are still trying to perfect that job!)
- Spraying with a dormant oil combination to maximum fruit production and lessen disease and insect damage
It would be much easier to buy apples from our local grower but where is the challenge in that?! We thoroughly enjoy growing our own and then celebrating our success with delicious fresh crisp apples for eating, baking, and preserving.
More information about apples on our site