Sunday, September 12, 2010
Apple Trees and the Original Plan
Stores of Harvest
Richer for harvesting these, my eyes
feast on their play with gold and red.
Sunlight shimmers on their leaves, I am fed.
They are so much more than fruit for pie,
these ripe September apples.
We have other apple trees, trees that we ordered from mail catalogs, trees that we actually know the true names of, trees that we have pruned and thinned. We read all the usual advice on fruit tree maintenance. Almost any Master Gardener or Agricultural Specialist seems to agree, the backyard tree is to be kept properly in control, fettered, pruned, sprayed and thinned to keep nature in check for the highest, most consistent yields.
If I have it all right you must thin to encourage larger apples, prune to cause uniform fruit, fertilize faithfully and watch for and control insects and diseases. In our need to always have more and to have more on a regular basis it seems humans are consumed with interfering immensely with nature.
Yet, The One, we have left entirely to its own devices. We never prune, thin, fertilize, treat or otherwise flaunt our authority on The One. We just let it go. Every other year as apple trees naturally want to do, it bears an avalanche of apples that fall to the ground in a plummet. The next year it has a little crop, just enough for eating.
This causes me to think of something I heard long before I ever tried to read any books on pruning or advice on pesticides. It is something my Grandfather shared with me when I was a child one autumn day as we were out finding leaves for a leaf collection. There, under the trees on a dirt road in Noble County, Ohio, Grandpa taught me what his Grandfather taught him, which is that the fruit and nut trees, such as the oaks, the walnuts and the apples that we were gathering leaves from, bear fruit well every other year.
They do this he said because it keeps the fruit and nut-devouring insects from becoming too plentiful. During lean years a vast amount of the damaging insects dwindle in number. So, when harvest comes along the successive year the insects whose population was greatly decreased by the lean year, hardly make a dent in the crop.
Isn’t it beautiful to think that The Creator and Nature work in such harmony? Yet, because we humankind demand a steady yield every year, we are bound to an unnatural cycle, we prune, trim and force the apple tree to confirm which allows the insect population to increase so we resort to sprays.
I like the original story and the original plan and I am all for it because on big harvest year I freeze, can and process enough apples for two years. On the following lean year I take a break!