Right now we are in the middle of a rain /sleet/ ice storm. It’s the end of January which officially marks the point when I get tired of the winter weather. I enjoy snow, cold and everything else that comes with winter until the end of January, then I am done with it all. February is my least favorite month because even though I am done with winter, winter does not seem to be done with us.
Although February is my least favorite it’s not all bad because it is the month when I start to get my garden planning under way. Besides pruning apple trees , I also start planning the seed starting process, and the garden layout. This year I will be rotating the onions and tomatoes for sure. I also will be starting seeds with newspaper pots again. They worked very well last year, much better than I thought they would. I also loved not having all those dumb plastic pots hanging around. My herb garden was great fun last summer. If you have young kids, I recommend a herb garden. Cori never complained when I told her to run out and cut me some mint and basil for dinner, and she usually came back with the right ones. I think I will add to the herbs, although a few herbs go a long way and are very easy to grow.
When winter gets you down, check out a few good garden blogs. I have a few very good ones on my right tool bar. Click on a couple if you have a minute. Some of my favorites are The Museum of forgotten Pickles, A Way to Garden, and Garden Betty. Some are already starting their seeds. It’s fun to watch because we are still a month or so from that point. Also go to the library and check out gardening books. That always helps me get through the end of winter. Keep your mind in a happy place, even if your body is somewhere where it’s 10 degrees outside.
The Farm Wife
I have not had to water my garden (even a little bit) since the summer I got married. That summer was dry but not drought or anything. I had a lot of material that year that was newly planted and I just wanted everything to look really nice for the wedding which was at our farm. This year is very dry and my garden is just not going to survive without some water.
My tomatoes are looking so nice. I am still hoping for a record crop. I know the farmer was looking forward to a record crop in the corn field, but those dreams are all but out the window now. There still is hope, it’s not a goner yet.
So what are the rules of watering? I can’t speak for everyone, but out in the country we water gardens and newly planted landscaping material and that is about it. Lawns don’t get top priority. If I start to see signs of distress in my apple trees, I will try to keep them alive. I just hope it doesn’t come to that. The last major drought we had was the summer of ’88 and my apples were not around then.
I do remember ’88. I was about 10 years old and I just remember it being hotter than blazes. We did not have air conditioning and my dad actually wore shorts a couple of times. My dad NEVER wears shorts so that was a big deal. Everyone remembers the summer of ’88. We had several days that hit the 100′s and lots of days in the 90′s. Summer is our fun season, and it’s no fun when you walk outside and can’t hardly breath. We have air conditioning now so it doesn’t seem so bad, but telling the corn and garden that we are comfortable in the house doesn’t seem to do the trick.
We will keep praying and hope this doesn’t turn into another drought of ’88.
The Farm Wife
How many apples were pollinated? I know I totally said that wrong. What I mean is how many blossoms were able to get the job done and get pollinated in my apple orchard. I should be able to tell by now. It has been a couple of weeks since my apple trees were in full bloom. Some bloom later some bloom earlier. Above are 5 potential apples. Of course I don’t want all 5 to grow into a big red juicy apple, but I am hoping one will. I took this picture a week ago so you can’t quite tell yet.In this picture, you can tell which one is pollinated. The one on the right did not get pollinated and the one on the left did. Basically, the one on the left is pregnant and come September will be a nice big apple. It looks so cute pregnant. Just a little bump, not like Jessica Simpson. These are also easy to tell. The middle and the one on the right were pollinated. The poor guy on the left was not. Sometimes you get a great pollination rate and too many apples. On years like that, the branches get really heavy and I will have to thin some out. I don’t think that is going to be the case this year. I am happy to see many are going to be nice apples, but I don’t have an excess. Some trees have very few little apples while others seem to have a good amount. I am quite surprised since this spring had been so strange. It amazes me how plants will adapt and will usually pull through. They’re fighters!
The Farm Wife
They are within days of blooming. I get a little more excited about my apple trees blooming than most rational people. You see, when the apples are ready to harvest, I have a big apple cider making party. The farmer and I found an old apple cider press a few years ago on craigs list. We had a neighbor put a motor on the cranking mechanism because, let’s be honest, cranking a few apples is fun but after about a bushel or two, it’s just not fun anymore. I love how, besides the motor, this piece if equipment is really very simple. You throw pieces of apple in, turn the crank, and apple cider comes out the bottom. If you’ve never made apple cider before, it’s basically just squeezing the crap out of apples.I have 18 apple trees. When the farmer and I were just dating he brought me out to show me this farm. He had just purchased it, and owning land had been a lifelong dream for him so you can imagine how excited he was about this farm he had owned for a month. Showing me the farm, and telling me his thoughts about this field and that hillside. I said “What are you going to do with the apples?” “What apples?”was his response. It was December so there were no actual apples on the trees. He murmured something about selling that part of the farm and went back to telling me about how his grain system is going to be set up. I thought TIME OUT! “What about the apple trees?” I ask him. He explains to me that that part of the property is currently up for sale. I was speechless, what does he mean “up for sale” that’s the best part of the whole farm. We were very newly dating so I didn’t feel it was my place to give him a piece of my mind. So we went on with the tour. He was showing me where him and Cody will have their bird hunting spot… “Maybe you can have an apple cider making party.” I say, like I haven’t been dreaming of this scenario all my life. He looks at me “What?” “The apple trees” I say, “Maybe you can make cider.” He asks “Do you want to go over and look at the apple trees?” “Maybe just for a sec.” Like I said, it was December so there wasn’t much to look at but I could tell they were fairly young trees, but old enough to be producing a decent crop. I asked if he knew how much they produced or what variety they were. He had no idea. I mentioned that maybe he could just think about not selling this part of the farm. He promised he would think about it. I knew that if someone made the right offer the “thinking” would be over. Luckily, like I said, most rational people don’t get as excited about apple trees as I do. There was enough time for me to talk him into keeping the farm together and one and a half yrs later we were married on this farm and the apple trees were gorgeous on our wedding night with Mason jar tea lights hung all over them.
So I guess you can say, I get a little more excited than most rational people about my apple trees blooming.
The Farm Wife
I’m in the process of pruning my apple orchard. I’m a couple of weeks late in doing this, late February is a better time to get your fruit pruned around here. I am having mixed emotions about the weather, on one hand I am enjoying the chance to get my bike out this early in March (last year I didn’t start riding my bike until May). On the other hand, I am so worried about my apples. We have had early warm ups before, there are days in the early spring (April) when we will get into the 70′s, but this is getting into the danger zone. I believe, don’t quote me on this, if you have 5 days in a row
My apples trees in full bloom. This was mothers day a few years ago. The farmer took this pic. It was my mother's day present.
over 70 degrees is the time fruit trees and vines will start blooming. Right now, they are working on their buds not blooms, but this process will all be expedited with these temperatures.
Mothers day, is when my apple trees are just beautiful with all the apple blooms. The bees and bugs are just humming around the trees. It is like a symphony to walk around in the orchard at that time. This year, I don’t know if I am going to get to enjoy Gods symphony. The chances of the weather getting below 25 degrees again this spring are still very high, but this week is all 70′s and above.
If we get below 25 degrees, this will mean no apples, no apple cider making day, no applesauce for my kids all winter. It makes me sort of sad. We have had years with no apples before I guess we will do it again. I know I shouldn’t worry about the things I can’t control, but I can be a little sad at the loss of an apple crop.
The Farm Wife
P.S. Send condolences to “The Farm Wife”.