Apples: History, Folklore, Horticulture, and Gastronomy

Title: Apples: History, Folklore, Horticulture, and Gastronomy
Author: Peter Wynne
Published: 1975 by Hawthorn Books
ISBN: 0-8015-0340-X

I've been considering planting a fruit tree somewhere on my property, probably in the front yard. Apples seem like a good choice. For one, they grow pretty well around here. With the cold winters we get, that's a pretty important feature. Plus there's a lot you can do with them. Pies, sauces, cobbles, juices, canning, even baby food. Oh, and I guess you can eat them plain too. So I picked up this book at the library to learn a little about apple trees and see if that's really what I want.

The book starts with a history of apples. There's some good information in there, although it's a little hard to find among the boring details. I glanced over most of this chapter.

The good stuff comes in the second chapter which describes how the plant operates. Turns out that apples aren't that different from you and me. They have a mother and father and inherit qualities from each, which means that apple trees grown from seed don't produce fruit like their parents. In fact, most seeds produce poor apples from a human point of view. That's why most apply trees are grafted from well-liked varieties.

Continuing on, the author describes a number of the most popular American trees. That section was exactly what I was looking for. He describes 22 types of apples, some which are quite common and others that are less so. I'm considering the Jonathan because it's a really good apple for desserts. But I want to grow something that I can't just walk down to the store and buy. Seems more fun that way. I'm considering a russet apple since those types have declined in popularity given their less attractive appearance, but can still be yummy.

Chapter three is then all about caring for trees. It tells about the different sizes of apple tree. Did you know that the reason some trees are larger than others is because of the rootstock to which the desired tree is grafted. Smaller roots lead to smaller trees.

The rest of the chapter I didn't try to memorize since I'll have plenty of time to learn as I go, plus I'm not too sure how much is still accurate since 1975 especially in the realm of pesticides. You'd think this guy works for a chemical company with the number of sprayings he recommends. I'm sure my local nursery will have all those details when I need them.

That pretty much sums up the book. It's a good introduction to apples, but I don't think it's worth keeping around as a manual. There are a number of recipes at the back, but who's to say if they're any good or not. I think this book helped me decide that I do indeed want to get an apple tree. I'll look to my nursery for the rest.


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