Farmer’s eye of an apple


In the aftermath of losing the farm flock’s matriarch, Gertie, of which I was so humbled by the messages, greetings, etc. on her passing, I’ve discovered something during the seven years I’ve had the farm.

Some things, I can do amazingly well, and others, not so much.

Take for example the fruit trees I planted during that first year. I enthusiastically planted four persimmon trees (two of which were grown from seeds), two apple trees (a red apple and a Granny Smith variety) and two pear trees. I had planted apple trees at my former home in Columbus and had amazing success in getting beautiful fruit without doing much maintenance at all. This would be a no-brainer in getting fruit in about five years, right?

Well, not so much. As Year 4 rolled around, I saw a few tiny buds start on the apple branches that spring, develop and wither away. The same thing happened with the pear trees. No matter, I thought, it was the first year for any fruit and perhaps the trees just needed time to get further established.

Year 5 saw a repeat of lack of usable fruit, and by Year 6, I was looking up natural remedies for getting fruit to grow without being misshapen. The apple trees were growing baseball-sized fruit that resembled some sort of comical monster instead of the beautiful apples that are found in the stores and the pear trees were creating fruit that was the size of peas.

The only trees that were even remotely doing well were the persimmons, which started to produce the sticky orange fruit I turned into pulp that year and made some amazing baked goods for friends and family.

Now, in Year 7, I’m realizing the pears I planted will never produce usable fruit and are not the Bradford variety but most likely a Callery pear, which is also highly invasive and will need to be cut down this year to stop its migration into the field behind the house, which it has already done. Chalk it up to learning the hard way. Thankfully, the invasive plants should be eradicated by the end of the year through diligence and some serious cutting tools.

As for the apples, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for those, too. I’ve been extremely blessed that the neighbor just across the road has allowed me to harvest from their gala apple trees,and these apples will soon make new dog treats. Thanks to a lot of research and talking to experts, I’ll be ready next year with a farmer’s eye when the ground begins to awaken.

It won’t be overnight, but I won’t give up on creating beautiful fruit. Once again, I am taught patience in waiting. Nothing moves fast on the farm, and if you try to make it go faster, you’ll find things move even slower. The apples will thrive, and there will be new pear trees planted.

It is frustrating, however, that the past six years, I found myself trying to nurture a tree that would try to take over the land. I guess it will now make amazing kindling.

Until next time…

Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Send comments to [email protected].

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