Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Apple Guy

Our apple tree appointment was yesterday. Bob Hartman himself was our guide for the morning. He has been breeding/growing trees for 37 yrs! He was AMAZING! I swear, he has forgotten more about apples than I will ever know.

We walked about his place and he would pull apples right off the little trees that we were considering buying and cut them for us to taste. He gave me a pen and a roll of tape to mark the ones that I liked so I would know them when I was ordering (pic above). He talked about varieties that are good for organic gardening (not susceptible to Apple Scab) and then what flavor and storage hardiness we wanted.

When I told him I wanted a smaller type of tree he started to throw out numbers... Most of which I had no clue what they meant; P22, B9, M111... huh? I sat there quietly, until he realised that he had lost me and he said that those are the root stock that the trees are grafted onto to make them smaller. He asked me what sized tree I was looking for, and I said one I could reach most of, but I didn't mind if I had to use a ladder for some. And he said the root stock I wanted was the B9 or Mark... which grow trees about 40% of normal size. I just nodded and asked if that was under 9ft tall... and he said yes with this twinkle in his eye. That twinkle came back when we were tasting the apples too. He would always taste them with us... he said it was "quality control"... but I think he just really loves apples.

It was an amazing apple education. My head is still full. One thing that really shocked me though was that he doesn't preserve his apples. He just eats them raw. I asked him which ones were best for apple pie filling and apple sauce... he said that he thought it was the tart ones (which I already knew, I was fishing for a specific variety) but he wasn't sure because he never makes the stuff! An apple guy who doesn't make apple pie. I thought for a moment about asking him to ask his wife. LOL!

I ended up picking three 3yr old trees... but two are grafted to have two different varieties on them. I got one Gravenstein, one Keepsake with a Liberty graft, and one Florina with a graft of Sweet Sixteen. I specifically picked the second double tree because the Sweet Sixteen is an early apple that is Bob's favorite...

"But you didn't taste that one." he says

"I trust your judgement... you are the apple god." I reply.

And again, he got that twinkle in his eye.

The best part of the whole trip was him telling me that since I bought three trees I got a fourth for free!!! I decided that I had enough apples and picked my favorite from my parents old yard: Italian Plum. I have NO idea where I am going to put that baby, but I am crazy excited about it. It was a heavenly homestead day. :)




Lise said... cool is that? I want the apple god to come visit me! (But he'd have to find some sun first; nearly impossible in my yard). Our favorite apple farm advises us to use a mix of apples in our applesauce...multiple flavors to make it more complex. Always works to make something delicious! And I like to throw in some really really red ones to make it pink.

Shirley said...

Gotta love walking knowledge!

Simple Mama said...

Wow! What a wonderful bit of knowledge to have at your disposal. I must find someone like that in the Portland, Oregon area.

Insanely jealous of your apple trees you will be growing. Good luck and sending green thumb vibes.

Jenny said...

Val~ how cool he was so informative! I'm sorry I got lost in mid-terms this week. But I got a 92 on my apple orchard test! Everything you just mentioned sounds like you have it under control. I've heard great things about the Liberty variety. It's great that you were able to get top grafted trees too.
Now I think you'll be needing some bees...

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Jenny: I think you are right. He has three bee hives off his yard for his garden and trees. But first I have to dig four 2X2ft holes in my yard to put the trees in and find somewhere local that has manure compost. :)

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

So cool!! Totally jealous and trying to figure out where I can plant a mini orchard in our yard!! : )

Dina said...

sounds like an incredible meeting! yay for your new trees. I would love that!!

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

How fabulous! You know, meeting someone like an apple god is really a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm so happy to see you had full appreciation of this moment because I am insanely jealous!! Can't wait to hear more about your apple trees and see how they grow. How lovely!!

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