Friday, May 14, 2010

Apples on the Web: Trees of Antiquity

The website for Trees of Antiquity, a California nursery, includes photos and short descriptions of 155 heirloom apple varieties, from Akane to Yellow Transparent.

The terse descriptions include occasional flights of fancy: "The raised russetting resembles tiny daggers linked with a fine mesh," for Blue Pearmain.

Descriptions also include such useful information as recommended USDA zone, flowering and ripening times, size, and storage quality.

A complicated search engine promises to help you find the right tree for your orchard or garden, but seems not to work at all.

A nursery sells trees, not fruit, and the bare-root season lasts from January through April. But it makes for a fun browse any time of year.

4 comments:

  1. I find nursery catalogs seldom give the complete "lowdown", for example Spigold is a wonderful apple but among my friends it is considered a shy bearer. It seems that you often have to grow an apple yourself to discover its true attributes, including its flavor. I can buy Granny Smith everywhere, but my own I let hang until mid November for a Granny taste you can't buy.

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  2. Greger, it makes sense that nurseries downplay reasons not to buy what they sell.

    Do you think and agricultural extension service might be more forthcoming, or do they have their own agendas too?

    By the way, reading about Spigold made me want to try one.

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  3. Oh, I know it comes under heading of "sales puffery".
    I think my local extension does a good job, but they know less about most apple varieties than you or me. They advocate picking too early IMHO and follow the "party line". But they do want new info and will listen. It is just that it will be years before someone else asks them about late picking Grannies, for example. Also they are having their funding cut back.

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  4. Ahhh, Akane, I was meaning to mention that to you earlier. On my recent visit to a country market a stall-holder was selling "old-fashion varieties, organically grown". He had 3 varieties for sale - Akana, Fuji and Splendour. Now I was rather dubious of Fuji as an old-fashioned variety since I am sure I can remember a time when Fuji was unknown in New Zealand and I'm not THAT old! Also I had never heard of Akana, and assumed it was a mis-spelling of Akarana, a common Moari word down here. However, when I got home Google implied it was a mis-spelling of Akane, a variety I have never heard of.

    Anyway, those organic old-fashioned apples were an eye-opener. Such small undersize misshapen, gnarled, blemished, mutant looking things. No 'average consumer' would possibly consider buying them having seen a 'modern' apple for comparison. A timely reminder of how far things have come in a relatively short time.

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