— This entry was submitted by Darryl

Because I love history and also have a strong interest in genealogy, I really enjoy learning and exploring the old ways of life. I think that this is one of the reasons I am interested in growing heirloom varieties of fruit and vegetables. As a first step, I decided to order some old varieties of apples. While the fruit stock are old, these are grafted onto modern rootstock.

So last Tuesday, seven bare root heirloom apple trees arrived from the Trees of Antiquity nursery down in Paso Robles. They are all organically grown and all are on semi-dwarf rootstock. Here is a description of each variety:

The first one I picked was an Arkansas Black, which has been grown in Arkansas prior to 1886. I read in Foxfire book number 11 that Arkansas Blacks were commonly grown in Appalachia earlier in the last century. The fruit is described as strikingly beautiful, dark purplish-red fruit that turns nearly black at maturity. It is very crisp, greenish-white flesh with a sharp flavor which improves with age. It ripens very late and stores in a cellar well.

This is a picture of an Arkansas Black (Arkansas prior to 1886)
from the Trees of Antiquity website.

I also purchased the “Classic Heirloom Bundle” which consisted Ashmead’s Kernel, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Grimes Golden, Newtown Pippin, Spitzenburg, and White Pearmain.

Ashmead’s Kernel is an old English russet apple dating back to 1700. It has a golden-brown skin and the flavor is said to “explode” with champagne-sherbet juice with a lingering scent of orange blossom. It is said to be a winner in taste tests. Ashmead’s Kernel ripens late and is an excellent storage apple.

Ashmead’s Kernel (England 1700)

Another apple originating from England, Cox’s Orange Pippin produces a medium sized red and yellow, usually striped apple. This apple ripens mid season and is good for fresh eating and cooking.

Cox’s Orange Pippin (England 1830)

Grimes Golden (1832 West Virginia) is a progenitor of the Golden Delicious apple. It has a more complex flavor than its descendant and is said to be an excellent dessert apple. It ripens late and is only a fair storage apple, so it should be eaten fresh, cooked and/or preserved (like hard cider!).

Grimes Golden (West Virginia 1832)

Newtown Pippin was George Washington’s favorite Apple. This yellowish-green apple is said to be aromatic with a refreshing piney tartness. It ripens late and is an excellent storage apple that actually improves with time.

Newtown Pippin (New York 1759)

The Spitzenburg apple was grown in New York prior to 1800. This was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite. The apple has a yellow skin covered with inconspicuous red stripes and russet freckles. The fruit’s flavor is said to be a perfect balance between sharp and sweet. Like the Newtown Pippin it is also a great storage apple that improves with time.

Spitzenburg (New York prior to 1800)

Last but not least, the White Pearmain rounds out the heirloom collection. This is the oldest known English apple dating back to 1200 A.D. This medium size apple possesses light green skin and is usually flushed red on one side. It is mildly sweet and aromatic. It is said to be a great pollenizer of other apple trees and is a vigorous tree well adapted to our western coastal areas. It ripen very late and should store well.

White Pearmain (England 1200 A.D.)

The above information and images were borrowed from the Tree of Antiquities website (www.treesofantiquity.com)

So Friday, I roto-tilled the orchard area where we planned to plant the new trees. Renee and I were able to get them into the ground by dusk. We really needed to plant them that day since a series of big storms were on their way. Now that several days of heavy rain have past, one thing I learned was that I should have only tilled the areas immediately surrounding the new trees. After inspecting the orchard today (Tuesday), I noticed that my tilling contributed to some erosion. Luckily, none of the new trees were affected.

Here are some pictures of our new orchard:

Looking east this is our new orchard . It is hard to see the 7 new trees because
they are smaller than the fence posts. I have tilled the area where the bare root
trees are planted. In hindsight, I should have roto-tilled a much smaller area.
The red building beyond the orchard is our well and Rascal can be seen in

In this picture, you can see three of the new trees (they have the yellow
tags). In the background is Cox’s Orange Pippin, the Newtown Pippin is
in the middle and the White Pearmain is in the foreground.