Heirloom summer apples

Picking apples, for most people, is thought as something you do in the fall along with drinking cider and eating fresh donuts. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

My two summer apple trees have fruit on them that are ripening right now. As a matter of fact, I’ve been picking a dozen apples every day from them for the past week.

These are a couple of heirloom trees I planted about ten years ago. I couldn’t find my planting notes on them, but I think they’re a variety called “Early Harvest”.

They have smallish apples that are crisp and a bit tart, especially if they’re picked before they are fully ripe. Once they ripen all the way, they lose their texture and complex flavor.

The red color means the apples are about ready to pick.
The red color means the apples are about ready to pick.

My grandmother Rose was an excellent gardener, there was a summer apple tree in her garden. I remember my brother and I climbing that tree to find the very best apple to pick.

My trees are dwarf, which means they don’t take up much space. One tree grows in a circle seven feet in diameter while the other is a bit more vigorous and has a nine foot diameter. I have them planted about 12 feet apart and keep them pruned to a height of eight feet, which means I don’t need a ladder to pick.

Their small foot-print and early maturity would make them an ideal candidate for use in an urban agriculture situation.

Summer apples will never replace our wonderful traditional fall apples, especially considering all of the other types of  fruit ripening right now. However, they might make some nice memories for children or visiting grandchildren!


Cabbage root maggot symptoms

If you have never seen it before, it seems perplexing — one or two dying cabbage plants in among a row of healthy plants. This is the work of the cabbage root maggot.

These maggots are the larval stage of a fly that looks very similar to a housefly, only smaller. And like houseflies, they go though part of their life-cycle as a maggot. They attack all plants categorized in the cabbage family which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and others.

Cabbage displaying cabbage root maggot symptoms.
Cabbage displaying cabbage root maggot symptoms.

During the time when the adults are active, they buzz around looking for suitable plants — such as your broccoli or cauliflower. The female fly lays its eggs right where the stem of the plant meets the soil. When the eggs hatch, the larvae begin feeding on the roots.

Infested plants lose so many roots to maggot feeding that they can’t sustain themselves so, the plant begins to wilt and eventually  dies.

Cabbage root maggots thrive in a cool, wet soil environment. Our early rainy growing season has provided ideal living conditions for this pest which is why you may be more likely to see them in your garden this year. Warmer drier weather will help reduce the incidence of this pest.

By the way, if you’ve ever come across wormy radishes or turnips, you’ve seen cabbage root maggots — they’re the same insect.