The real Johnny (Appleseed) Chapman

Did you know that September 26 is Johnny Appleseed's birthday? Yes, Johnny Appleseed did really exist and he is a native of New England, born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1774. His real name was John Chapman and he did everything you heard about, including being a well-known gardener, pioneer nurseryman and, yes, apple tree planter. Johnny got his start at a young age working as an orchardist apprentice when only 13 years old. Apples are not native to America, and were brought here in the 1600 and 1700's by English settlers. Johnny's love for this special fruit drove him to plant seeds and trees as far west as Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, so if you live between Massachusetts and Ohio, thank Johnny for your apples.He was also one of our nation's first conservationists. While nobody knows for sure, it's believed that Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman died on March 18, 1845 at the age of 74 after traveling for more than 50 years!

O. C. Smith - Little Green Apples
O. C. Smith - Little Green Apples

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Paul Parent and his (our) Aunt Ruth Soucy apple picking in 2001

If you love fresh apples, now is the time to begin picking them. I thought I would give you some ideas of what to look for and how to handle them. First of all, always select apples that are firm, that have a clean skin and are free from bruises. Fresh native apples come in so many colors, it hard to determine when they are ready for picking by their color while on the tree. When you go apple picking always ask the farmer what types of apples are ready for picking that day. My wife and her sister and I go apple picking every year and  we ask the farmer for his help and he gives us several additional tips.

Pick one apple from the row of apples you select and taste the variety you want to pick to see if the taste is what you want. We picked 7 different varieties of apples so I won't have to see the doctor for at least a week now--and I did eat most of the sample apples I picked that day. Next he told us to pick the apples on the tips of the branches first, as apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards the center. Now grab the apple with one hand and twist the apple off the branch by rolling the apple upwards of the branch and give it a good twist. Don't pull down on the apple or you will break part of the branch containing next year's flower buds, so the tree will be damaged and have less fruit on it.

If two apples are growing together side by side, twist them in different directions and they will come off very easily. Do not climb on the tree, as this time of the year the branches are full of fruit and you will damage the branches with your weight. You could also fall from the tree--and that will not be fun, either. Never shake the branches of the tree, because you could damage the tree and many of the apples will fall to the ground and spoil. Nobody wants apples on the ground, right? Apples with a stem on them will keep longer when in storage so, twist--don't pull. And one last thing--place the apples in your bag; don't drop or throw them into your bag, as bruised apples will go bad faster.

When you get home, place the apples in a cool place like your basement or garage and they will keep longer. Warm rooms will make apples ripen faster and they will also spoil quicker, so keep them cool. Do not wash them until you're ready to eat or cook with them, as they have a protective coating on them that washing will remove. If you're storing your apples for winter use with squash, turnip, beets, and carrots, they will do very well together but keep potatoes away.

All vegetables give off ethylene gas while in storage but potatoes more so, and it will force the apples to go bad faster. Never keep apples near a flower arrangement because the gas they produce will put the flowers to sleep. My first year in college I took a floral design course and my college roommate put his lunch in the cooler with the flowers, unknown to my teacher. He forgot his lunch that contained an apple in the bag over the weekend, and on Monday when we went back to class most of the flowers had begun to go bad; no lunches ever went into the flower cooler again after that.

Here is a question for you: are apples apples and good for both eating and cooking? Actually, apples are broken down into 3 categories; eating, cooking and all-purpose apples. Eating apples typically have more sugar in them; they are larger in size, and the skin is thinner, softer, and easier to digest. They also do not store as well or as long in your basement.

Cooking apples have less sugar in them, they have more of a tart taste, they store well in your basement--and for a much longer time--they have a thick and strong skin to help hold moisture in them and the flesh of the apple is less likely to get soft when cooking. Nobody likes a mushy apple pie!

All-purpose apples are good for both fresh eating and cooking/baking. Use early apples for cooking while still firm or they will not hold up. Here is what I picked last week and why.

Cortland: An all-purpose apple with good red coloration. They have a crispy, juicy, sweet and tart taste to them, are a good firm apple for cooking apple pies, desserts, fresh eating, long keeping in the basement, and great in tossed salads or with mixed fruit because they do not turn brown quickly like many apples.

Crispen: An all-purpose apple with great golden yellow skin, super crispy, very juicy, very sweet and refreshing to eat when fresh picked, great for cooking, baking and roasting in the oven, long keeper in cool basement, great for salads, used for cider and the best apple for hard ciders.

Gala: An all-purpose apple with a wonderful bright rosy- red skin with many lines and shades of red on the skin, just beautiful to look at, firm, very sweet, crisp with a good snap to it, very juicy when eaten fresh--so have a napkin when eating it. The size of the apple is small--great for young children with no waste; also great for pies and pastries.

Ginger Gold: An all-purpose apple with beautiful deep gold skin, great for fresh eating, wonderful for pies and pastries, it does not keep well, so use it up and mix other types of apples in pies for wonderful flavor; it does also have a hint of spice to its taste, unusual and great with white wine and cheese during September. Keep refrigerated until you eat them. These may be hard to find.

Honey Crisp: An all-purpose apple, the skin of the apple is filled with gold and red blotches and it looks delicious, a well-balanced sweet and tart taste to it, crisp, juicy, great for cooking all types of pastries, keeps well in a cool basement, great fresh eating apple with a glass of white wine and cheese, salads.

Macoun: Great eating apple, small to medium in size, great for children, beautiful wine red skin on the apple, nice and crispy, juicy, sweet and tart tasting at the same time, also wonderful for pies and baking, keeps well in a cool basement, great with other fruits in a fruit salad.

Northern Spy: A very large apple, crispy almost hard, beautiful red and yellow streaking skin, all-purpose apple great for fresh eating, wonderful for pies and pastries and stays firm when cooked, juicy, sweet and tart flavor, the best winter keeper apple for a cool basement, easy to peel, late to ripen

Now go apple picking this weekend while the weather is good, buy some apple cider, pumpkins, Indian corn and a bunch of corn stalks to decorate the front of your home. Celebrate Johnny Appleseed's birthday this week. After all, if it was not for him, you would be eating plums instead of apples this weekend. Enjoy!!!
The Andrews Sisters - Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (from the 1942 movie Private Buckaroo)
The Andrews Sisters - Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (from the 1942 movie Private Buckaroo)

How to grow apples in your own backyard!

Several hundred years ago in the mountains of Central Asia, early gardeners found trees that produced a fruit that would one day be grown around the world. This tree was moved from country to country by man because of its flavor, its ability to keep well in storage and its ability to grow most anywhere it was planted without much care. The Romans grew apples and propagated new varieties with grafting techniques. Early settlers in this country and abroad used cross pollination to develop new varieties and this is how the American gardener developed the Golden Delicious apple and other varieties.

Here is what you will need to consider if you are thinking of growing apple trees in your yard this year. First and most important is location! By location I mean an area with FULL SUN all day. Do not kid yourself: the tree will grow in partial shade, but it will never produce the fruit it is capable of. Next is air circulation around the tree, to prevent possible early frost damage to the tree that is in bloom. Circulation of air around the tree will also minimize disease problems during the growing season, but avoid windy locations. Also, if you have the choice of planting on top or the bottom of a slope, always choose the top of the slope as cold air will always move downhill and cause problems early in the growing season.

Drainage is also very important. Your trees should never be planted in soils that will have standing water during the winter and early spring. The soil should be fertile, well drained, slightly acidic, and as deep and rich as possible. Soils that are alkaline and shallow will make the tree struggle.
Here is how to plant your tree this spring. Begin by digging a hole 2 feet deep and as wide as possible. If your soil is not good, dig the hole bigger so you can backfill the hole with conditioned soil when you plant. Use compost and animal manure to condition the soil around the plant. I also add Soil Moist granules, to help hold moisture around the young root system to help get it off to a better start during the heat of summer. Also use the new technology in soil science and add mycorrhizae-enhanced products when planting to stimulate root development.

All fruit trees should be staked at the time they are planted to help keep them in place during windy days and prevent root damage by the wind. Stakes should be left on the trees for 2 years to insure good root development. When you place the soil around the roots of the plant in the hole, firm it in place, but never stamp it down. Cover the planting bed with 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch around the plant to keep out weeds and help retain moisture during the heat of summer. This planting bed will also prevent damage to the trunk of the tree by your lawn mower or weed whacker when you care for the lawn in your yard.

Water regularly for the first year right up to the time the leaves fall from the plant in the fall--water is that important to plant growth. Spring and early fall are also the perfect times to fertilize your tree until it is well established and producing fruit.

Use a slow release fertilizer like Plant-Tone for uniform growth above and below the ground on the plant. Also very important is to add a ring or collar of hardware cloth wire around the trunk of the plant to prevent rodent damage. Make the wire covering a good inch away from the trunk and push it into the ground 1 to 2 inches deep to keep all types of animals away from the tender and sweet-tasting bark. The wire should be 2 to 3 feet high and remain around the plant for 3 to 5 years if you have animal problems on your property.

The type of tree you select will depend on the amount of work you desire and the room you have on your property. The most popular types are standard growing trees that will grow 25 feet tall and wide, semi-dwarf trees that will grow 15 feet tall and wide and the dwarf trees that will grow under 10 feet tall and wide. Taller growing trees require more maintenance, more time by you, and better equipment--but produce more fruit. Semi-dwarf trees will be easier to maintain and you will not have to leave the ground to perform the maintenance; great for smaller spaces. Dwarf trees can be grown in a container or garden and are very easy to maintain but produce less fruit, so you'd need to plant more trees.

Plan a spraying program for your trees if you want good fruit and foliage from the tree. This will begin--before the flowers open--with an application of, lime sulfur to kill off disease spores that overwintered on the plant. I also apply it in the fall when all the foliage has fallen from the tree. At the same time, apply Bonide All-Season Oil to kill any overwintering insect eggs on the tree, both in the fall and spring. During the growing season, use a fruit tree spray every other week to keep problems under control.

New this year is a systemic foliage insect control for fruit trees to keep most all insects off the tree. The product, made by Bayer Advanced and called Fruit, Citrus and Vegetable Insect Control, will offer season-long protection without spraying! It will kill insects and prevent new infections; rainproof protection won't wash off. This product stays only in the foliage and will not enter the fruit.

Here is a trick to accurately time your first applications of fruit tree spray to make it more effective and have better control. Buy 2 plastic red apples with stems on them and tie a piece of string to them. Tie the apples on your fruit tree branch, at eye level and coat them with a thin layer of Vaseline. The red apple will become an insect monitor and when insects arrive, they will be drawn to the red apple. The insects will get stuck on it, telling you it is now time to apply your fruit tree spray and begin the spraying program. This idea was developed at the University of Massachusetts in 1970 by my Orchard Planning teacher, James E. Anderson, and our class--and it helped get him his Doctorate. Today it is used in all orchards across the country and because of this, LESS pesticide is used to grow your apples.

If you're going to do this right, get yourself a good book on growing fruit trees. I recommend The Backyard Orchardist by Stella Otto. Learn all the tricks of the trade from a family-run business that specializes in fruit trees for a living. Planting, pruning, varieties, and harvesting--it's all there and easy to read and understand.

Apples have been around for a long time--it all began with Adam and Eve, so be careful what you eat! Apples are the Tree of Knowledge, The Tree of Life, and in this country it all began as a movement in Leominster, Massachusetts by John Chapman in 1774. John, a pioneer nurseryman better known as Johnny Appleseed, planted thousands of apple trees from New England to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. John was a pioneer and a gardener credited as the inventor of the modern apple; not a fairy tale, but a true person.
Americans eat 19 pounds of apples a year, that's just one apple per week on average and this fruit is Americans' favorite. Think "Mom and Apple Pie." An apple a day does keep the doctor away, as it helps to slow cholesterol plaque build-up, improves brain health and reduces the risk of heart disease. Just because Snow White got a bad apple, do not stop eating apples and apple products; you will be healthier.

Here are a few more apple quotes to remember and I am sure you have heard them before. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." "One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch." "As American as apple pie." Washington is the apple state, the number one producer of apples. If you watched the Wizard of Oz, the bad apple trees did throw apples at the Scarecrow and Dorothy. This spring, plant an apple tree and enjoy your garden. Enjoy!

The Osmonds -
The Osmonds - "One Bad Apple" (The Osmond Brothers)
Apples, Apples Apples which one is your favorite 


This is a crispy red apple with bright white flesh and a refreshing sweet flavor. It is the number I selling apple in the northeast. The apple is crispy and filled with juice making it the perfect snack for the fall.
McIntosh apples originated from Saint Lawrence valley of Canada
Introduced in 1820
Bright red skin with a bit of green and a bright white flesh
Fruit size is small, medium, and large
Great for fresh eating, and cooking
It will store for a month or more when kept cool
Harvest in mid to late season

One of the more successful McIntosh off springs. Cortland has all the usual characteristics, including sweetness and marvelous flavor. Nice colorful apple that is crispy and filled with juice making it perfect for snacks for the fall. Cortland originated from Geneva, New York research center
Introduced in 1915
Bright red and yellow skin with white flesh
Fruit size is medium, and large
Great for fresh eating and cooking
Harvest mid to late season
Will keep for a month or more when kept cool

Undoubtedly one of the most important apple varieties of the 20 th century, both as a commercial crop and in its own right as a breeding stock for many other varieties for good and flavorful fruit in the home grown market.
Golden Delicious originated in West Virginia
Introduced in 1890
Bright golden yellow skin with white to cream flesh
Fruit size is medium to large
Great for fresh eating and cooking
Harvest late in the season
Will keep for 4 to 6 weeks when kept cool

This is one of the most famous American Apple varieties, a sport of the Delicious apple known for its bright red color and unusual shape. The fruit is flavorful and crunchy when eaten fresh.
Originated in Madison County, Iowa
Introduced in 1880
Bright red skin with white to cream flesh
Fruit size is medium to large
Great for fresh eating and cooking
Harvest late in the season
Will keep for 4 to 6 weeks when kept cool

Another Mac apple style variety hybrid for flavor and considered one of the better American apples today. A firm apple, great for snacks and its Flavor is very unique and tasty.
Originated in Geneva, New York research station
Introduced in 1920
Bright red and yellow skin with white to light green flesh
Fruit is medium to large
Harvest late in the season
Great for fresh eating
Will keep for 4 to 6 weeks when kept cool

HoneyCrisp is a crispy and predominantly sweet modern variety from the U.S. This apple is specifically grown for a cold climate market and cold northern states. It is the best apple for a cold climate. Good flavor, sweet to taste, and nice and juicy.
Originated in Minnesota by the University of Minnesota
Introduced in 1960
Red and yellow skin with white to cream color flesh
Medium to large fruit
Harvest mid to late in the season
Great for fresh eating
Will store for 4 to 6 weeks when kept cool

A classic American Apple and widely regarded as one of the best. Jonathan is very Flavorful with good sweet and sharp tasting apple. The tree is precocious and productive tree in the U.S.
Originated in Connecticut
Introduced in 1808
Bright red and yellow skin with white flesh
Small to medium size fruit
Harvest in late season
Great for fresh eating and cooking
Will keep for 4 to 6 weeks when kept cool

This apple is widely grown, an American apple Heirloom variety with very large fruit and firm flesh. The apple is very aromatic and has high vitamin C content. Trees grow well in a cold climate. One of my favorite apples.
Originated in Rochester, New York
Introduced in 1840
Fruit is beautiful and streaked with bands of red and yellow
The flesh is white to cream in color
This is a big apple and fruit get very large
Great for eating fresh, cooking, juice or cider
Harvest late in the season
Keeps very well for 3 months or more when kept cool

A very popular old American apple variety and widely grown for the culinary market. This is one of the original apples eaten by the colonies during the 1700's and it is a great winter storage apple. Great flavor and sweet tasting fruit come from this tree.
Origin is Boston, Massachusetts
Introduced in 1750
The skin of the fruit is red and yellow and the fruit is white to cream in color
The fruit is medium to large
Harvest late in season
Great apple for fresh eating, cooking and juice or cider
Keeps very well up to 3 months or more if kept cool

This apple is very good and popular apple for eating and commercial use. Its good flavor was inherited and its good qualities from its parents Jonathan and Golden Delicious. Eaten fresh it is sweet and sharp to taste.
Originated in Geneva, New York research center
Introduced 1943
The skin is bright red and yellow with white to cream flesh
The fruit size is large
Great for fresh eating, cooking, juice, and Hard Cider
Harvest late in the season
Good keeper 6 to 8 weeks when kept cool

Empire is one of the best McIntosh hybrids apples, with a good sweet flavor and very easy to grow. Its parents are McIntosh and Delicious and Empire has all its best traits including taste.
Originated in Geneva, New York research center
Introduced in 1945
The skin is red and yellow with a nice white to cream flesh
The fruit is small to medium in size
Wonderful for fresh eating
Harvest late in the season

This is the most recognized apple in the world because of its shape and unique color. The Granny Smith apple is Perhaps Australia most famous export. It is also sold all over the world, no other apple can claim that.
Originated in Australia
Introduced in 1860
The skin is bright green and the flesh is white
The fruit size is uniform and medium
Eat it fresh, or cook with it to enjoy its sweet flavor
Harvest late in the season
It will keep 3 months or more when kept cool

One of the most widely grown apple variety that we have today and it has a sweet and pleasant flavor. It is one of the best winter keeper apples that we have today. If you never had one you should and it is the number 2 selling apple in the world. Gala is a cross between Golden Delicious and Kidd's Orange Red.
Originated in New Zealand
Introduced in 1940
The skin is red and yellow and the flesh is white to cream
The fruit is medium in size
Great for eating, and juice
Harvest mid to late in the season
A great keeper 3 months or more

This is the benchmark in apples and from a good tree, in a good year it can achieve exceptional flavor. This is one of the first apples from Europe to be brought into the U.S., also a good partner to use to produce new varieties of apples.
Origin is England
Introduced in 1825
The skin is yellow with red streaks and the flesh is white
The fruit is small to medium
Great for fresh eating, juice and hard cider
Harvest in mid to late season
It will keep for 6 to 8 weeks when kept cool

The lady apple is an old French apple variety with good aromatic flavor and many decorative uses as the fruit is small. The flavor is very good and has many uses in the kitchens. This is one of the oldest apples known to man.
Originated in Bretagne, France
Introduced 1628
The skin is red and green with pure white flesh
The fruit is small, less than 2 inches
Eat these apples fresh, cooking and juice and cider
Harvest in late season
Fruit will keep for 1 to 2 months when kept cool

Fuji was developed in Japan but it's an all American cross of Red Delicious and Rolls Janet. A very attractive modern apple that is crisp, sweet, and full of flavor. One of the best eating apples we have today.
Originated in Japan
Introduced in 1962
The skin is red and yellow with white flesh
The fruit is medium in size
Eat fresh for its flavor
Harvest very late in the season
Fruit will keep for 3 months or more
"Eat an apple on going to bed and you will keep from earning his bread. 1860"
"An Apple a day, no Doctor to pay 1900"
"An apple a day sends the doctor away 1900 century"
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away 20th Century"

How the original saying progressed through time.



Aunt Ruth's Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp is one of my favorite dessert when the apples are ripe for picking. In the next week or so, the apple crop will be ready to pick, so take the whole family apple picking for two reasons. First, because it is a great family project and September 26 is Johnny's Appleseed Day. Have the kids help you make this wonderful recipe and they will not believe how good their fresh picked apples taste. Serve warm and be sure to add a big scoop of "H.P. HOOD'S" Vanilla Ice-cream. My Aunt Ruth's husband and brother both worked for Hoods, so it's the ice-cream the Parent families eats and it's good!

6 cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced. Aunt Ruth used Cortland's and Delicious apple combinations, 50/50. You can also use Macintosh, Jonathan and Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons of granular sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of brown sugar, packed
cup of uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon of ground nutmeg
teaspoon salt
cup cold butter, cut up

1} preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place your sliced apples in an ungreased 8 by 8 square glass baking dish. Sprinkle the apples with the granular sugar and drizzle with vanilla extract.

2} Mix the brown sugar, oatmeal, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add cup of Pecan halves, cut in half the long way and your cut up butter chunks with the dry mixture and blend together until crumbly. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until apples are tender and the topping is golden brown in color.

3}Serve warm with your Vanilla Ice-cream. This should serve 6 people, so if you have a big crowd use an 8 by 16 glass dish and double the recipe. Enjoy!

Days to look forward 

Sep 22 Thursday September equinox
Sep 23 Friday Native Americans' Day 
Sep 25 Sunday Gold Star Mother's Day 
September 26 Monday - Johnny Appleseed Day
 September 28 Wednesday- National Good Neighbor Day

Keep records will make you a better gardener!!


Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.


Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

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