Archive for apples

Grafting – 101.1

Posted in grafting, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic farming, Pruning with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2014 by Grouse Mt. Farm

I’m going to try to do a fairly complete series about grafting fruit trees, step by step throughout the spring and aftercare through the summer. For a quick read on grafting, what it is and why do it, check out this link of a blog entry I wrote a few years ago: and look up other resources where ever they may be .

I’ll be working with common fruit trees: apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, cherries and walnuts. Some fruits are easier to graft then others. Apples and pears are probably the easiest, with the soft fruits a bit more finicky (mostly timing) and difficult to get a good take. Walnuts are the most difficult for me, I’ve only had scant success grafting them, but we will try… The techniques are similar with other species then those I’ve mentioned, mulberries and persimmons are fairly easy. If you want to try something else, I recommend looking up the specifics for the species on the web or library etc.

The first step is to collect scion wood (pronounced sign or sine). The wood must be collected when the tree you’re collecting from is dormant, mid to late winter is good. If early is the only possible time, as long as it’s dormant and you provide good storage it should be fine too. If it is collected too late in the winter/early spring, the scion will begin to grow after being grafted before it has fused with the tree you’ve grafted to and in short order exhausting  its reserves and drying out. When all goes well, the tree and scion form a connection then as the wood comes out dormancy it’s tapped in to the tree to provide the energy it needs to grow and survive.

Gathering Scion Wood

Gathering Scion Wood

Moderately vigorous one year old wood is optimum for scion wood. That means a branch that had grown in the previous season. Sometimes called suckers, generally upright growth about the size (diameter) of a pencil or slightly bigger, much bigger just makes for more difficult cutting when we get to the knife work. I’ve marked (rather crudely, I admit) an approximate point where you could cut scion wood from, on this particular tree (this tree was grafted two years previous, note the tape and paint on the trunk).




The second photo shows, in my opinion, optimum sized wood. The piece to right and apart from from the grouping of three is the top of the piece cut, this is usually soft and pithy, it may work , but I usually discard it. The others are firm mature wood ready for storage. I wet a few pieces of newspaper and wrap the scion wood in it, place in plastic bag and in to the refrigerator. Not too wet, but you don’t want it to dry out either, and protect from freezing. AND, remember  to label as to what variety it is, it all looks the same when grafting time comes!

I usually begin grafting cherries in late march or early April because cherry wood doesn’t keep well and begins to sprout while in storage. Apples and pears in April here, and the other soft fruits the third to fourth week in April, during a bit of a warm spell, if possible. The walnuts I’m still trying to figure out, but more towards the end of May when the weather has warmed up. I’ll write about tools in the next post.


Walnuts – They’re here !

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic farming, whats fresh with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2011 by Grouse Mt. Farm

We will have walnuts at the University District Farmers Market in Seattle, this Saturday, October 22. These walnuts have quite a following, we have people asking about them all season. They are good tasting, easy to crack with a well filled nut and good sized. There is a limited quantity, so we recommend being at the market early. We will have more walnuts in the following weeks, some smaller ones and our bigger BIG  nut as well.

Walnuts on the tree, the cracking husk indicates a ripe nut

A couple of years ago we made a short video about part of what we do to harvest and process the walnuts. Here’s a link:

When the husks on the nuts begin to crack is a sure sign that they’re ripe. In a vacuum the nuts would all fall from the tree as they ripen and we could pick them up minus the hull. But with squirrels and Stellar Jays getting the jump on them we have to shake the trees and gather them, husk and all before they all disappear. Once gathered the nuts need to be de-husked. With a nut whose husk has begun to crack the nut pops right out but since I shake the tree, not all the nuts are as ripe so those not need to be put aside for a few days before the husk will  release itself from the walnut. After husking the nuts are quite wet and need to be dried for three to four days in a food dehydrator. If they’re not dried fairly quickly, the nuts will mold inside. We’ve found that if we remove the husks and store the nuts, still wet, while waiting (more then a few days) to put them  in to the dryer they’ll mold. But storing for up to a couple of weeks in the husk they won’t mold. Once dried, then at last: ready to eat!

Walnut Exposed

Also this week we’ll have:

Nickajack, Prairie Spy, Gala, King David, Belle de Boskopp, Macoun (not many), and a few Coxs Orange Pippin Apples.

Hosui and Shinseiki Asian Pears,

Bosc and Abate Fetel European Pears,

Elephant Heart and Italian Prune Plums,

Hardy Kiwis,

Concord Grapes,

and O’Henry and Honey Nectar Cot Peaches (Last peaches of the season)

See you Saturday.

Belle de Boskoop Apples

Walnuts, not yet…

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic fruit, whats fresh with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2011 by Grouse Mt. Farm


Everyone is waiting for the walnuts, but they won’t be ready until next week. With a shortened week due to rain, there isn’t enough time to pick, husk and dry the nuts by market time. Next week for (almost) sure.

Hardy Kiwi Fruit on the vine

We will have this week:

Hosui and Shinseiki Asian pears, Italian prune plums, Elephant Heart plums, the last of the Fantasia nectarines and Honey-Nectar-Cots, and new this week the O’Henry peaches, Abate Fetel European pears, (next week: Seckels and Boscs). And apples: Gala, Prairie Spy, Swiss Arlet, Jonathan, Nickajack, Coxs orange Pippin. We’ll have the little Kiwis again this week and next as well, a few green beans (Romano)

                                                        Shinseiki Asian Pear

Everything is a couple of weeks later then it was last year, which was five to seven days later then is or was usual, due to the late spring and cooler early summer weather. As a result everything is later then we’re accustomed  to. ( Fresh Peaches in mid October?!)

See you Saturday.

Newtown Pippins

Posted in Grouse Mt. Farm, organic fruit with tags , , , on April 3, 2011 by Grouse Mt. Farm

Greetings and happy spring to all!
Winter is definitely over, the last of the snow here disappeared yesterday. Its been a fairly wet spring, and warmish the last few days which has really begun to green things up. Its great to hear birds early in the morning again, its hard not to love this time of year.

Newtown Pippins in our cooler, early April

I just opened our box of Newtown Pippins in our cooler the other day, and they look great. Firm, crisp and tasty for sure. As you can see from the pics , they’re just beginning to turn yellow (ripe). We’ll eat these until they run out or until strawberries start to ripen in June and fresh fruit becomes more appealing. I’m still eating Jonathan, Prairie Spy, Spitzenburg, and King David apples. They’re all good and keep well, but don’t have the long term keeping qualities as well as the Pippins do. Pippins are good off the tree in late October or early November, depending on the year, but they don’t reach their potential until they sit in storage for a few months.

The Newtown Pippin is also noted as being one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apples. It was once widely grown as a commercial apple, but has become eclipsed by the Granny Smith, which in my opinion doesn’t come close in quality to the Pippin.
We store our fruit in our walk in cooler which has the refrigeration unit turned off in the fall, and has air vents and a fan connected to a thermostat to turn the fan off when it gets too cold, nothing fancy. I have a friend who keeps them in outside sheds in Seattle all winter (be sure to put them in containers to keep rodents out) with great results. A cold porch or basement or spare refrigerator works too. In colder climates keeping them from freezing is important.

Last Market (for the season) November 13

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm with tags , , on November 11, 2010 by Grouse Mt. Farm

The market this weekend will be our last for the season. Its a wonder where the time goes,
seems like it was summer just a couple of weeks ago.
We finally got a freeze and a little dusting of snow this week, which melted promptly, but the hills above us are covered.

This week we will have:
-Belle de Boskopp Apples
-Northern Spy Apple
-Newtown Pippin Apple
-Jonathan Apple
-Prairie Spy Apple
-Nickajack Apple
-King David Apple
-Spitzenburg Apples

The fruit is all picked, the water drained from the irrigation system, grass is mowed (to discourage mice and voles from nesting and eating the bark off the base of the trees, while under the snow). We almost have the place buttoned up for winter, I’m hoping to get a lime sulfur and oil spray on next week if its warm enough (for mildew and mites) then let it snow!

A resting Pie Cherry tree

It will be nice to be done with the markets and not driving over the pass every week, though we will miss seeing our friends and customers.
Thanks to all our customers and friends for supporting us! We surely appreciate it and couldn’t do it without you.
See you Saturday.

Fresh on the Market Table for October 30, 2010

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, whats fresh with tags , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by Grouse Mt. Farm

King David Apple

Its getting quiet in the orchard, only a few trees left with fruit still hanging. The colors have been beautiful and still no hard freeze here at our place. We can see snow up on the higher ridges and peaks above us, it won’t be long until its here in the lowlands.
A few new varieties this week:
Northern Spy Apple
Newtown Pippin Apple
-A-Ri-Rang Asian Pear
Also this week:
-Jonathan Apple
-Prairie Spy Apple
-Nickajack Apple
-King David Apple
-Belle de Boskopp Apple
-Spitzenburg Apple
-Bosc Pear
-Hosui Asian Pear
-Walnuts (the last of them)

Newtown Pippin Apple

This Saturday at the University District Farmers Market in Seattle, along with the regular market activities AppleLooza will be taking place. A celebration of Apples, there will be a apple tasting, apple info and an pie making demo. I will also be there demonstrating a low tech method to check apples for ripeness. (See my September 15 post about the subject) Come enjoy and celebrate great Washington state apples!
See you Saturday.

Northern Spy Apples

Fresh for October 16, 2010

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, whats fresh with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2010 by Grouse Mt. Farm

Hosui Asian Pear

Autumn is definitely in the air, cooler days and cold nights (still no frost here though). The weather has been great all week, nice sunny days. There’s not too many trees with fruit on them at this point, a few apples and some Asian pears still hanging.
This we’ll have:
-Gala Apple
-Prairie Spy Apple
Jonathan Apple
-McIntosh Apple
-Nickajack Apple
-Coxs Orange Pippin Apple
-Hosui Asian Pear
-Shinseiki Asian Pear
New this week:
-Spitzenburg Apple
-King David Apple
-Belle de Boskopp Apple
-Mongolian Red Asian Pear
-Bosc Pears
-Abate Fetel Pear

Belle de Boskopp Apples

This week we will have our super walnuts (not our biggest, but our most popular for sure). They have a great flavor, can be easily cracked by hand and the meat can be extracted whole. We recommend getting to the market early if you are interested in these nuts, they do go fast.
See you Saturday.