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Apples it is

Janet DelTurco once wrote a delightful column remembering the apples of her childhood.

Apples it is.

This is certainly the time to harvest or purchase apples and there is a huge variety. I always want to buy one of each and do taste tests. The orchards have kept up with new varieties and have Gala, Honey Crisp and others as well as old favorites like Red and Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Macintosh and Cortland. I like to slice and dry apples in a dehydrator for use as snacks that are high in fiber, and removing the water concentrates the sweetness. Northern Spy, Spy Gold and Winesap have proven tasty. My Mom made apple pies for Dad with Northern Spy, she liked its firmness and taste. My overall favorite apple is Ida Red — great in pie, applesauce and for drying, it keeps incredibly well, lasting a year in my vegetable bin.

My neighbor brought an Arkansas Black for me to try, dark red skin and crispy texture. My own trees, one a Pepin, one unknown, produce a thick applesauce that gets combined with rhubarb now and cranberries later.

Try a different variety, apple science is always devising new types.

It’s gotten cold enough that tender plants are turning brown. Zinnias got pulled this week; some of the older, drying flower heads are saved for seeds next year. Peonies are cut to the ground, and mowed if I can, to give the roots a good dose of winter. The same will happen to asparagus stalks when I get the time. Other tender flowers are cut down and leafy parts composted. A big project will be the dahlias, but they are still sort of blooming so they have another week or so.

Lots of other garden and yard chores. The birdbath gets inverted so ice does not crack it. Bird feeders are cleaned and filled, I saw two bluebirds just sitting on one of my feeders! Also, a red-bellied woodpecker, and I hear nuthatches. A variety of seeds are provided — sunflower, safflower, mixed and peanuts. Different foods attract different birds and suet attracts birds that never visit the seeds.

While I had the extension ladder out to clean gutters, the suet feeder got a boost to a higher branch. The suet feeder is on a long line so it can be lowered for refilling, then pulled up high.

Without even considering leaf raking, growing beds need attention. The currents have been overrun with lawn ivy and other weeds and need to be cleaned out. After cutting peonies, glads, iris and other flowers, the weeds underneath are more obvious and get pulled or dug out. Young woody trees like mulberry, elm, oak and ash that have sprouted need to be pulled, cut or dug to remove. I do not want trees growing along the house foundation which seems to be the favorite site for squirrels planting acorns.

Invasives like woody honeysuckle and buckthorn get cut and poisoned whenever they get spotted. And vines! I see Virginia creeper under my deck, unreachable until it grows out, and grape vines in the far back yard are getting cut to make grape vine wreaths. Have some fun along with the outside work. I’m collecting all sorts of drying plant material to put in wreaths.

Enjoy.

Susan Carty is a local gardener and a professor emerita of biology at Heidelberg University.

Contact her via:newsroom@advertiser-tribune.com

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