This year's harvest might have been unremarkable in many ways, but there was one very exciting crop: the first apples from my superdwarf Gala apple tree.
I won the tree at a winter gardening seminar a few years ago. It was donated by a local gardener who loves grafting fruit trees and is particularly interesting in superdwarf trees. Basically he grafts a regular apple onto superdwarf apple roots. What you end up with is a regular apple tree that stays very small.
He delivered it to my house the spring after I won it and gave me all kinds of tips on caring for it. I stuck it right in the middle of the perennial garden off the patio. That's not the first place one thinks for siting an apple tree, but I needed a little height in that area and since it will stay plenty small, I wasn't worried about it taking over. Plus, I wanted to be able to enjoy the blossoms up close.
For a couple years it hasn't done much of anything but this spring there were flowers. No heaps of them, but some. And after those flowers came fruit. I had already lost a few small apples to insects before I talked to the grafter at a garden tour and he told me his secret of putting plastic baggies over the fruit. I ran home and put baggies on the four remaining apples the tree and haven't given it much thought since.
A couple weeks ago I picked the first apple. It was umblemished, beautiful and crunchy. It was also just a tad sour because it wasn't fully ripened. Unlike tomatoes and pears, apples will not continue to ripen after you pick them so you need to leave them on the tree until they reach their desired ripeness.
Last week I picked the other three apples. They are delicious! And, like anything else you grow yourself, they taste even better than anything I could have bought at a store or even an orchard because, well, pride adds flavor.
Four apples isn't much to get excited about but the tree is still very young and should produce more and more each year. And now that I know the baggie trick I should be able to enjoy many more of the apples that are on the tree.