The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Tag: Zestar

First apple

First apple harvested from our orchard

We enjoyed our first homegrown apple from our apple orchard yesterday. The Zestar variety ripens earlier than the rest, by the end of August. It tasted similar to a Honeycrisp but more tart. It was especially sweet since we have so few apples this year, having to pick most of the blossoms to force the roots to establish, then losing most of what remained to wind and worms.

Overall, I’m happy with our orchard’s progress. There were some mishaps to be sure, like the Harralson that got so weighted down with apples that three branches broke. Cedar Apple Rust, a common fungal disease has infected other trees but can be easily treated with a fungicide spray. And of course watering the apple trees every day with 5-gallon buckets for the first six weeks was a chore. But seems like we’ve done ok, overall. From here on out the maintenance decreases and the fruit increases.


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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