I don't know how many of you are former HOS members, still feeling the pangs of not being able to go to the "All about fruit" shows in the autumn, or the extravagant HOS Scion distributions in the spring that so many of us used to look forward to. Given that it's now September, entering autumn, I've been recently rubbernecking as I go down the local roads observing apples and pears at different stages of ripening. Some of those are in peoples' yards. Some are clearly volunteer seedlings, a few of which may have volunteered from cores literally tossed aside decades earlier. They always catch my eye.
I have about 3-4 particular ones from which I hope to collect dormant scions this winter. Are any of you good folks eyeballing any defenseless fruit trees in your local area? I keep thinking about an old stand of an orchard near Mossyrock that davem mentioned perhaps 2 years ago. I had hoped to go before now but something or other held me up. At some point I had printed a Google satellite photo of the site as well as a printout of the roads. Sadly, I can't find them. Up the road and 'round the corner from home there is also a small, relictual patch of apple trees persisting at the margin of what is now a broad electrical transmission line right of way. I'm a curious guy. I'd love to know what those apples taste like when they're cultivated and cared for. [This is exceedingly obscure, but it's somewhat like Charlie Chaplin in his movie 'Monsieur Verdoux' in which he's about to walk out to the guillotine. He' offered a gin, which he declines. Then, on reconsideration, accepts it: "I've never tasted gin."] Now there's someone who savoured life experiences.
I want to taste a lot of those roadside fruits!
Your memory is surely good enough for my trust. Thank you so very much. I appreciate it! I'll do my best to schedule an excursion out that way on an upcoming weekend. My wife is always telling me that I need to get out and do more walking. [Apparently, hiking in our woods with our geriatric dog is not good enough any more.] I can't think of a better reason for going on a hike than to potentially find some tasty old apples, eat some, and then go back for some scion wood in the hopes of a successful graft. One of the things that I've been needing to purchase is a new GPS unit so that I can do more accurate mapping. Baby steps.
P.S. [if you see it] -- What is the status of our NW bats in regard to the fungal? problem? I'd still like to make a bat house on our property (--my wife's protestations ignored--), but I don't have any recent info on our poor Chiroptera and their plight.
Reinettes - Looking at the google map again, I am 99.5% confident that is the right spot. The fruit trees are in the green peninsula in the mowed field (switch to satellite view).
If possible I would bring a couple of 6' or longer 2"x4" or 2"x6" boards to put on top of the blackberries, then step on them to smash down the berries to make a path. In my experience that is way faster than a machete or loppers. Or if you have a small orchard ladder you could do the same thing by laying it on top of the blackberries, then use the ladder to pick fruit. And of course wear your best blackberry-resistant clothing.
Re: White-nose syndrome in bats, here is a map from March 2020. Indeed WNS is present in Washington but it is not yet widespread in this area. The sooner you can get a bat house placed, the better. There is some hope that our bats are less susceptible because they tend to be more dispersed than in the eastern half of the country. The more roosts they have available, the more dispersed they can be. But in reality we don't really know where most of them go in the winter. I suspect talus slopes and inside or under large old trees, but I don't have much data to back that up.
Thank you very much for the info! Our darned printer isn't currently working, but I found the apple site on satellite image and, along with my Washington DeLorme atlas, wrote down directions to get there. The suggestion of taking a plank to put down over the Himalaya blackberries to get to the trees is pure genius! Now WHY the heck didn't I think of that? That'll come in handy for a couple of other "unknown" apple and pear sites. I'll have to take our pole-pruner, too, just to make snagging an apple easier. I'll probably be having minor surgery sometime in the next month, but I hope that it won't curtail my ability to visit the site this year. Oh yes, and I need to take some flagging material and indelible marker for marking individual trees (discretely) so that they could be differentiated from each other for identification when dormant. [Cross fingers.]
Thanks also for the relevant info regarding our local bats. They tend to get a bad rap from the uninitiated, but think of just how many pestilential, fruit affecting, nocturnal moths they can "take-out" in one evening's flight! Biological balance is everything! I see that critical balance corroding year-by-year.
Reinettes - yes the board method is how I got rid of my half acre of 10' thick blackberries without chemicals or heavy equipment. First I smashed them all by walking on two 2x8x10's on top of the blackberries. Then I used hedge shears to snip all the vines as close to the root as I could reach, repeated weekly until all the vines were dead (the leaves wither pretty quickly so it's easy to tell what you missed). Then I dragged my lawn mower over the mass to chop it into bits. Then mowed several times a year until the roots run out of energy (a couple of years). I actually switched from a mower to a scythe which was much easier (especially on slopes), and peaceful. Now I just cut or pull any remaining seedlings once a year, which are getting fewer and fewer. But I plant densely so there isn't much light at the ground, thus the blackberries (and most other seedlings) struggle to survive.
I found that it was actually easiest to do the board smashing when the blackberries were covered with snow or ice. The weight of the snow/ice helps a lot. Of course things are a bit slippery, but as long as I stayed on my boards I was OK. And yes my neighbors think I am crazy.
The hardest part was approaching the 10' blackberry wall with my boards and walking up the steep angle. Requires good traction and some balance.
I only fell off a couple of times, which was similar to post-holing in deep snow. I never impacted my face or arms on the thorns.
I was pretty amazed at the quantity and variety of native plants that were apparently clinging to life under the blackberries. That half acre is now my permaculture food forest, a dense mix of 150 varieties of edible and native (and edible native) perennial plants.
That is a great idea to label the trees. I use pencil on cut up aluminum blinds. I have several old blinds (probably 100-200 slats - enough for about 12,000 labels - way more than I need) if anyone else wants to give that a try. They are a dark tan so they blend in with the trees pretty well. I use old telephone wire to attach them to my grafts. I have learned over time to make the wire loop around the branch really big, to allow for branch growth. There is something magical about pencil on aluminum blind paint - it lasts forever and is impossible to erase. This label is 10 years old. Sorry I don't know why it is being displayed upside down.
I love that idea of board smashing blackberries. Scythes are fun too. We got rid of ivy at the coast and found many trees and natives.
He (Dave) probably uses chrome, a google browser, which I do as well and it gets me there. This one (of the same place) should work on any browser: https://goo.gl/maps/UABAkUYUZj5D56K87
Dave: you are a very useful guy. You got me started and hooked onto using teasel for my solitary bees. Now I need one of your aliminum blinds before I go crazy trying to figure out things before it's too late. I have some quince from the Rombough grape farms to spare if you want to try some. I have too many. Can you PM me your location or phone #?