Gardening

Heirloom summer apples

Picking apples, for most people, is thought as something you do in the fall along with drinking cider and eating fresh donuts. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

My two summer apple trees have fruit on them that are ripening right now. As a matter of fact, I’ve been picking a dozen apples every day from them for the past week.

These are a couple of heirloom trees I planted about 10 years ago. I couldn’t find my planting notes on time for this blog, but I think they’re a variety called “Early Harvest.”

They have smallish apples that are crisp and a bit tart, especially if they’re picked before they are fully ripe. Once they ripen all the way, they lose their texture and complex flavor.

The apples range in size from two and a half to three and a half inches. They develop a red blush as they begin to ripen.

The apples range in size from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches.  They develop a red blush as they begin to ripen.

My grandmother Rose was an excellent gardener, she had a summer apple tree in her garden. I remember my brother and I climbing that tree to find the very best apple to pick.

My trees are dwarf, which means they don’t take up much space.  One tree grows in a circle 7 feet in diameter while the other is a bit more vigorous and grows in a 9-foot diameter space. I have them planted about 12 feet apart. I keep them pruned to a height of 8 feet, which means I don’t need a ladder to pick.

Their small footprint and early maturity would make them an ideal candidate for use in an urban agriculture situation.

Summer apples will never replace our wonderful traditional fall apples, especially considering all of the other types of  fruit ripening right now. However, they might make some nice memories for children or visiting grandchildren!

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.