Apple Tree Branch Cutting Is Alive!

Several weeks ago, I was trimming apple tree branches that crisscrossed other branches and branches that seemed not in keeping with the tree’s overall form set forth by the larger, older branches. I saved 2 of these cuttings with the thought that they were long and sturdy enough to serve as stakes for a surrounding tomato plant whose vines needed some support. I simply placed these 2 apple tree cuttings into the nearby large soil-filled container and watered that container (which is already occupied by a raspberry plant – many players here!) as usual each week. As it turns out, one of these branches has now sprouted new green leaves – it’s alive! I hadn’t planned on the cuttings serving as anything else but a support for a tomato plant – and a good way to repurpose a tree cutting. Without any extraordinary effort at all (just soil and water), I may have (we’ll see how it goes in the future) inadvertently propagated at least 1-2 apple tree saplings that may one day fruit. Wow! It’s from my 3-in-1 apple tree, so I am not sure which apple(s) might come from these 2 cuttings, but I’d simply be happy if they fruited at all. But now I’ve got to think about how and where to accommodate this and possibly the other branch should both successfully develop into apple tree saplings in their own right. I have a bit of time to come up with a plan. A lot of exciting activity is going on in my food garden right now!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:


Apple Tree, Caged!

Nearly a year ago, I noted how the sparrows in my area had descended upon my helpless (but prolific) 3-in-1 apple tree. I recall losing up to 50% of this tree’s fruit to them, which is quite an astounding feat (well played, birds). The tree is still relatively young, so the loss was significant. Following through on my thoughts from last year, I decided that today was the day to cage the tree, using stucco netting (also known as chicken wire), wire cutters, and a few pieces of twine. One apple was already knocked down (but not victim to the birds, happily – it was sweet and delicious). Several apples are nearing ripeness and I didn’t want to lose the chance and then more fruit this time around.IMG_1480

The handiwork is a bit basic, but I wanted it to be a simple project, which it was. I wrapped the tree with netting with a circumference just out of the reach of bird beaks – I know how funny that sounds! I wrapped another round atop the first one since the tree is taller than the height of the netting. I also put a layer of netting on the top. I secured the layers in a few places with twine, with a few tied in “bows” or “rabbit ears” so that I can open up the cage in strategic places to get to the fruit. The design is easy to remove and expand as the tree gets bigger, and I could do it myself, in about an hour. I’m already so happy looking outside and thinking about all of the fruits that I will get to enjoy this year!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

Apples Are a Favorite of House Sparrows

Keep your eye on the sparrow! My 3-in-1 apple tree has produced apples that are proven winners to the neighborhood house sparrows and at least one very bold northern mockingbird. Apparently they are quite delicious! They are tearing through the fruits, almost daily so I have to stay vigilant so that I can still pick edible fruits for my own enjoyment. The rust-color specks on the leaves in the background are oxidized apple bits after the birds fed off of this one apple just this afternoon. The pecking must have been wild and a bit cartoonish! The apple in this photo was intact just yesterday. I expect that the birds will finish it off tomorrow. And it wasn’t even fully ripe!IMG_3307

Long ago, I accepted that in terms of my fruit trees, most of the fruit would go to the house (me) and some to nature (birds and critters). I think that’s right to some extent, to be a good partner with nature. But as seasons like this prove, this seemingly rabid feeding frenzy by these energetic birds has to be managed so that the scales do not tip the other way. This hadn’t happened in previous seasons much because the tree had not produced so many fruits before, and all at one time, so, in a way, it’s a signal that this tree is successful. I am very glad. In the future, however, I will need to be vigilant and prepare to do some bird abatement around my apple trees. I’m envisioning the use of inexpensive nylon webbing to create a bit of a canopy to significantly reduce apple loss. I will thin some of the fruit and will leave some in an area away from the tree for the birds to enjoy.

A bit of good news to report: The two newer apple trees that I have shown signs of improved health, as both have produced new green leaves and very young future apples! It’s been so disheartening thinking that I may have to consider removing one or both of these trees because they have been stricken with cedar apple rust and fighting against it. I’ve not applied any further fungicide this year. I just removed rusted leaves as they appeared and watered the trees – just a generous dose of tender loving care and it seems, as of today at least, that they have responded in a positive way. I hope this is the start of a healthy trend.

As with my roses, I do not want to prematurely sign a “death certificate” to my plants. I want to give them a lot of time to improve and have their health restored. It’s such a big decision to remove/kill a plant, for me anyway, since each plant is a member of my beloved garden community and I am looking at my garden with a long-term perspective. Should these trees survive and thrive, I know that I will be rewarded with a garden overflowing with delicious apples for many years to come. That’s a warming thought!


CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

The Sweet Perfume of Freshly Cut Homegrown Apples

A sensuous experience! Believe it, all of these petite, wonderful apples will be part of my dessert for lunch tomorrow. It’s an 8-ounce container! They are courtesy of my 3-in-1 apple tree. In previous years, the tree produced fewer, but larger apples. And I’ve still not gotten into the routine of thinning the fruit, either, ever since I planted the tree. This season, the fruits are smaller in size, even though they’re blanketing the few relatively modestly-sized branches – many steps above a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree!” Still, even in its relatively young age, this tree produces such flavorful apples. Moreover, and it’s not mentioned enough, when you cut into a homegrown apples, the perfume. I had to close my eyes for a few seconds and repeated. This further reflects well on my decision to plant apple trees. Growing up at my parents’ home, we had one apple tree that never got very big at all and not very productive. Not until I gIMG_3306ot a home of my own did I recognize that I had dearly yearned for an apple tree. This one tree has been a dream come true. This is the one fruit that I can eat every day and not get bored, especially if they taste this good!

The two newer trees have been struggling a bit, fighting off cedar apple rust, and one, I’m anxious to say, might not survive it. It has neither leaves nor fruit currently. Should it perish, I would most certainly consider adding another apple tree in its place. The second of the other struggling trees is in leaf and I’m hoping that it will produce healthy fruit. Mentally, I’m prepared to sacrifice both of these trees if it looks like they’re too ill to make it, and pragmatically, to ensure the health of my garden as a whole.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

Happiness is a Homegrown Salad

It really is as simple as that! After a long afternoon of yard work, I rewarded myself with a delicious salad, freshly picked from my back yard. I removed a few of the outer leaves of a mature buttercrunch lettuce and a small apple from my 3-in-1 apple tree. After washing thoroughly the lettuce , I refrigerated it for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, IMG_3243I washed and roughly sliced up my apple and made a vinaigrette from extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I tossed everything together and enjoyed a wonderful salad.

Earlier in the day, I had planted my last packet of buttercrunch lettuce seeds in my raised row bed gardens. I’ve been doing that every few weeks not only to have a steady supply of lettuce but also as insurance in case the previously planted batch did not germinate very well. It is a good and delicious task to grow various crops to discern which ones I actually enjoy eating on a regular basis. I love lettuce and apples!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:


Apples in the Cold Months for My 3-in-1 Apple Tree!

It looks like my 3-in-1 apple tree is well on its way to a full recovery from its recent bout of cedar apple rust (fungus). After treating it with a fungicide spray, the rusty, infected leaves have subsided and my tree is now covered with healthy green leaves and emergent apples. This is such a relief, since I have never used fungicide on my plants before and was not sure of the results.IMG_3139

What I am quite excited about is that my tree is gearing up to produce another round of apples, hopefully to enjoy early next year. This tree, though young and rather small, has been impressively productive, blessing me with some of the most delicious and flavorful apples I’ve ever tasted.

I predict that I will be enjoying baked apples and fresh applesauce in no time, along with other delicious culinary possibilities!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

CAUTION: Commercially available fungicides have varying degrees of toxicity, so use care when applying them to your plants and trees, and spraying when them only when they are dormant, that is, when they are not in fruit.

Do Not spray fungicide on fruit and Do Not eat fruit that you suspect may have been sprayed with fungicide – they are poisonous and may be hazardous to your health if consumed.

Spotless Ladybird Beetle on My Golden Delicious Apple Tree

My fruit trees attract a lot of visitors, but I am usually not home when they are, or have a camera to capture the moment that they are there.  I caught a lucky break this evening. I found a solitary spotless ladybird beetle (Cycloneda sanguinea) exploring my Golden Delicious apple tree.ladybug

In the past, I’ve seen another type of ladybird beetle in my backyard, the seven-spot ladybird beetle (Coccinella septempunctata). Both of these ladybird beetles eat aphids, so they are good and valuable garden friends!

It’s interesting to know the types of visitors in my backyard, if only to not dismiss them as some ordinary “bug” and to recognize the good work that they do!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

Apple Trees: Golden Delicious and Beverly Hills

What a great way to usher in the new season, with two new apple trees! I just got home after an unexpected find of a clearance sale at my local gardening store. I spotted the last two remaining apple trees and scooped them up! The one on the left, with the under-ripe apple hanging from it is the Golden Delicious apple tree (sweet apples)  and the other is the Beverly Hills apple (somewhat tart apple, like the McIntosh).

I already have a 3-in-1 apple tree (I am fairly certain that the apples that I have been eating all week have been the Anna apple – I’m still not sure what the other 2 varieties are since I bought it as bare root and although the label said 3-in-1, it had 5 name tags attached). The flavor of my apples have been wonderful, which I attribute to the quality of my backyard soil.IMG_3042

As time goes on, I find myself wanting to focus on just a few crops that I know I can grow well. Following the success with my one apple tree, and knowing how much I enjoy apples, I thought it was a good idea to become really good at growing apples. I enjoy eating apples year-round, but having a variety of sweet as well as tart apples gives me more opportunities to enjoy fresh apples as well as making them into sauce, pies, baked, and cooking them in many other ways. Having been burned several times by store-bought apples that looked normal, but turned out to be bland, it seemed a natural to grow my own, including varieties that are not usually found in stores.

Within the next half-hour, I will be planting them directly into the soil in my backyard. These two trees look to be healthy and I am very hopeful that my apple harvest will increase exponentially in no time!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

Apple Tree Has More Fruit, Needs More Support

This season appears to be very fruitful for my young but very mighty 3-in-1 apple tree. It is now weighted down heavily with young fruits. This has added stress to the tree because it has so few branches. To relieve the stress, I inserted a shepherd’s hook next to the tree and have tied to the hook, with green plastic garden tape, the branches that need the support.IMG_3008

When the apples are rather small (and lighter in weight)  is a good time to install these supports. Attempting to do this when the apples are much larger and heavier  increases the risk that the branch(es) may break.

As shown here, your tree need not have too many branches or be really old to produce a satisfying amount of fruit. One of simplest pleasures is to pick ripe apple when it is still warm from the sun.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

Apple Tree is Buzzing with Bees!

Spring is nearly here and bees are already visiting my garden. They have been spotted on various plants  but I’ve managed to capture one as it was visiting my 3-in-1 apple tree, in the center of the photoIMG_2956. Its friend also visited the tree but was camera-shy!

What I have found over the years is if I keep weeds around a bit longer, especially flowering weeds, they attract bees.  I think it is a good trade-off to have a less tidy garden in exchange for having more bees in my garden, which is essential for the health of gardens. If seen from this perspective and managed, weeds can serve a positive role in the garden.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

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