Today was one of the wonderful fall days here in Langley. There were a lot of community events like the Artists Studio Tours, prepping for next week’s Cranberry Festival and the one I staked out, the Apple festival. The weather has stayed warm and sunny and I gently persuaded my 14 year old to join me “Get in the car. We are going to celebrate apples. It’s a family bonding time. One day you will remember this fondly. By the end of this you will be able to tell the difference between damage done by a cutworm moth or just plain scabs. Imagine! I bet none of your friends can do that.” In awe of the implications my son chose not to make eye contact and put on his earphones. I think he needed a minute to prepare himself. I didn’t want to overwhelm him by talking about the tour of the historic apple orchard and that it was on the heritage site of what was intended to be the capital of British Columbia. It is on the banks of the Fraser River at the Derby Reach historical park. It’s where they used to have signs saying, “stay back from unstable cliffs” until too many people went behind the signs to see what was unstable and had accidents. There would be people in Voyageur dress and the chance to get your picture taken milking a wooden cow cut out. I had to be careful not to speed.
You may wonder what this all has to do with pinching pennies and eating from your pantry. Did I mention that the event was free? In all seriousness I was looking for some real information about apples. One of my greatest joys in my yard are my two apple trees. They are grafted hybrids and different limbs can yield different species of apples. There is nothing like twisting a fresh apple off of my own tree, washing and eating it. It is the ultimate in organic, healthy eating, eating locally and saving your budget. In the same vein I planted 6 blueberry plants a few years ago but they have given up in dispair. I was hoping that I could learn how to nuture my garden.
As soon as we arrived it felt like a movie. There were fiddlers, people in period costumes, and tents filled with visitors in their khakis, sweaters and hiking shoes. The first tent had varieties of heritage apple slices to sample. Each apple was labelled for its name, taste and useage. Some were for eating, or baking or storage, or even cider. There were the tours and we got to taste apple pears, Northern spy and just missed out on Banana apples.
The find of the day was the tent with the trees for sale. My heart started pounding. These were heritage trees that had been grafted and carefully grown and were for sale. Even better than that, the staff was there to explain how to plant, prune and feed the trees. I learned that I could prune in the middle of summer. A vigorous trimming was completely all right. Then I saw the handout. “How to care for your blueberries”. I learned that just about everything I’d done to my plants guaranteed a lack lustre harvest. Could it be that I had a glimmer of gardening hope?
In the end I talked to the man at the last tent and realized that the cutworm moth and scabs had both come to visit and there was not a lot I could do but leaf curl, HA! Your day is numbered.
I left with one golden plum tree and one golden russet apple tree. I went to a free event and spent $70.
Thoughts: It is great to try and grow your own food but it needs knowledge to make it work. Putting some focus on producing fruit for my family and friends feels wonderful and helps stretch the staples in my pantry. It will be a while before this is a reality but attending more events where I can educate myself opens up more opportunites to take control of what I can offer. Information sets you up for success.
Time to gather some apples so I can make some strudel. Hhm maybe some apple butter would be good too.