The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Tag: Honeygold

Spring Ahead

Spring has arrived about 6 weeks early in Minnesota this year. That’s not to say winter won’t stop by again, but today is the 3rd day in a row of 60+ temps and will be the last day snow can be seen on our property. Even the grass is starting to green up!

Spring is always welcome here. However, Spring on a Hobby Farm means lots of work! And I’m not fully ready to come out of hibernation yet.

The seedlings are planted and growing well: tomatoes, broccoli (which Becca says she wants every week of the summer), lettuce, and a variety of flowers.

tomato seedlings

The chickens are laying abundantly, after about a 5-month hiatus during the coldest months.

Chickens enjoying the warm weather

All the maple trees are tapped and flowing a full 3 weeks ahead of season. I just hauled in 5 more gallons of sap after taking this picture. 30 gallons collected so far, waiting to be evaporated.

Collecting maple sap in buckets

Tapping maple trees started early this year

Since the sap is flowing, it is also the best time of year to graft trees. I made my first attempt, grafting a branch from a HoneyGold apple tree onto the MacIntosh nearby. The yellow HoneyGold was one of a few trees we planted without ever knowing how the fruit would taste. It turned out be delicious! Like a cross between a pear and an apple, but the texture of a HoneyCrisp. Needless to say, we want more HoneyGold and a simple way to expand the supply is to graft onto another tree.

Graft of apple tree

If successful, the MacIntosh will be bearing both red and yellow apples!


A trip to the Apple Store

Apple Store

No, not that Apple Store.

Although ours did have an Apple genius and we bought a McIntosh.

The real Apple Store

Received a call this morning from Leif at the local tree nursery who is helping us plan our orchard this year.  He said the trees were on the lot but they were going fast. So we loaded up the kids and went to a real Apple Store.

Family wandering the tree selection

Looking over the apple trees

Changing plans at a moment’s notice when toddlers are involved is not ideal under any circumstance. But changing them the day before Easter when you have 21 people coming over borders on insanity. It takes a particularly patient and gracious wife to pull this one off.

But sometimes you just need to seize the opportunities that present themselves. At least that’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve learned the hard way that dragging my feet, mulling it over, or looking for a better price too often leaves me empty handed.

Last year, as I was doing all the research on Maple tree tapping, I waited until the last possible minute to buy the taps and sap buckets. By then all the stores had sold out but I was fortunately able to order online (although not in the quantities I needed).

Last year, the winter was incredibly long, pushing the planting season back almost a month. So I put off buying the vegetable transplants until I could actually put them in the ground. Of course, all the gardening stores were picked over by the time I arrived, checkbook in hand. I had to scavenge all over three towns and ended up buying most of my plants at a grocery store chain.

Last year, by the time I found a farmer willing to plant my field the seed store had sold out of the alfalfa mix we needed. We ended up interplanting two varieties but due to weather and other factors the planting never took and we’ll need to re-plant it this year.

With the apple orchard, we had already decided that this was a priority. So when Leif called, I didn’t want to hesitate. Today was going to be the day we bought our trees.

We decided to go with a mix of our favorite eating apples as opposed to pie-making apples or apple sauce apples. And on Leif’s advice we got a mix of breeds to have ripening apples for a longer season. We’ll take delivery in a few weeks, when the ground is ready and we can get some help with the planting.

Here are the trees we bought (pictured in order below): four Honeycrisp, four Zestar, and one of each Haralson (HaralRed), Honeygold, Prairie Spy, and MacIntosh (MacFree).

Honeycrisp Apple Zestar Apple Harralson Apple Honeygold Apple Prairie Spy Apple McIntosh Apple

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