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Discussion Starter #1
You know, there are some things preppers can do to really increase their odds of survival during a SHTF crisis. Of course, we can store lots of food but that is generally only for the short term. So when one goes beyond eating stores, that means gardening & growing your own food. I like food that comes back every year, all by itself. In the garden, for me that is limited to asparagus but in my orchard I have much more variety. I have over 150 apple trees, peach trees, persimmon, pear, pecan plus lots of blueberries & blackberries. So lets talk apples.

Apples have always been a mainstay with homesteaders. Almost every farm had their own apples no matter what part of the country you lived in. Many folks nowadays think apples are for eating but in the past, their primary use was for pressing cider for drink & for converting to vinegar. Even the deep south, where I live, had many hundreds of varieties that worked well for each specific location. With apples, the only way to propagate a variety is by grafting. If you plant the seed from some apple you like, you will not get that variety but probably some inedible crabapple.

With the advent of better transportation and refrigerator, many of the old, local apple varieties have disappeared forever. Thankfully a few folks have realized what we were losing and have started saving these old varieties and selling them online. Saving this genetic heritage is critical because apples are fickle & very prone to disease. They are actually a rose & if you have ever grown old roses, you know what I mean. Thru many years of luck, trial & error, our forefathers found varieties that would thrive in their locale. You see, a variety that grows well in Michigan could do horribly in Virginia. A variety that does well in the mountains of North Carolina could do horribly in the coastal plain 200 miles away.

There is very little info on growing apples in Mississippi and from experience, I've learned much of it is wrong... or at least wrong for my specific growing conditions. I started out with twenty something varieties and am in the process of removing varieties that cause me issues. I've found some that do incredibly well... and some that do horribly. It would do no good to list my experience because that data is only of use to someone living close to me. Every locale is different. My point is, if you wish to grow apples, do your research & do tests. Cool thing is, if a variety is a failure you haven't lost those years. You can graft that old tree into a completely different variety and because the root system is mature, it will be producing again in a couple of years.

I highly recommend folks grow their own fruit, nuts & berries. Even if you have a bugout location, plant some there. Live in a subdivision, plant something you can eat. Don't plant an oak or some ornamental tree... plant a pecan or a pear. Want some nice bushes as a screen... plant blueberries.











 

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I planted a variety of fruit trees. About half made it. Pears did best then apples. Mulberry did well. The plums and cherries took a beating. Peaches and apricots were completely shut out. Black walnuts and hazel nuts did well. The almonds caught a diseas and died. I planted many different varieties to see what would or would not grow.
 
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Good advice . Besides eating you can make cider, wine and hard cider. Years ago cider and hard cider was a major commodity . I dry a lot of apples for chips , once dried and some sugar/ cinnamon on them they keep for me at least 6 months at room temp in a plastic bag.

Freeze dried and canned foods are great to a point then you have to have fresh fruit and vegetables for long term survival. Eating the same foods over and over again gets very boring especially now that we are so used to a variety of foods.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
I planted a variety of fruit trees. About half made it. Pears did best then apples. Mulberry did well. The plumbs and cherries took a beating. Peaches and apricots were completely shut out. Black walnuts and hazel nuts did well. The almonds caught a diseas and died. I planted many different varieties to see what would or would not grow.
Yep, and the results can vary depending on the year. We had a warm spring here that got everything blooming early & then of course... a frost. I try to mix varieties with different bloom times so that such a frost doesn't take out a whole crop for the year. Also production fruit trees aren't like beautiful ornamental varieties, in that production trees bloom a little over a long time period as opposed to all at once and being showy. So with that frost, some of my trees lost most of their fruit but even then, since they bloom over a long period, even those varieties set some fruit.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good advice . Besides eating you can make cider, wine and hard cider. Years ago cider and hard cider was a major commodity .
Yep, I have grinders and a cider press. I HIGHLY recommend CiderDays in Massachusetts. It is an incredible learning experience on apples & cider with all sorts of tastings, lectures, demonstrations & tours of local orchards & cider operations. Home - CiderDays - Franklin County, Massachusetts

Intersting thing about cider is, up north, it was mainly made for drinking. Down south, with our warmer weather, we mainly used it for making apple cider vinegar. Up north, folks can store food in cellars but down here we really can't... so in the past we used the vinegar to preserve food. As my orchard matures and I get my varieties straightened out, I plan on selling homemade, natural apple cider vinegar during my retirement. Of course, during a crisis, it would be used as in the past.
 

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Theres apple trees all around my neighborhood, and a few starving horses and cows.
Nobody works together.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
One of my favorites uses of the apples is homemade applesauce. This batch was made using Arkansas Black apples, which are so dark red, some actually look kinda black. They are so dark colored, it turned the sauce pink. :) Some of them are in my first picture, in the bushel basket on the left side.





A normal batch looks like this:









 

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I've planted peach, apple and cherry trees in my yard and have had luck with the apples and cherries but for some reason the peaches are not doing well. I tried blueberries but they died after one harvest...I agree with you about having fruit and nut trees on your property and I will continue to work on mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I've planted peach, apple and cherry trees in my yard and have had luck with the apples and cherries but for some reason the peaches are not doing well. I tried blueberries but they died after one harvest...I agree with you about having fruit and nut trees on your property and I will continue to work on mine.
I think the worst mistake many make is they just pick up the trees at the local hardware store. Problem is, they haven't chosen the varieties best for that area but just sell what is given to them. Peaches and apples are rather particular regarding chill hours for your location, which is a somewhat complicated measure of how cold it normally is in your area. Chill hours are roughly the number of hours between the temperatures of 32-45 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter hours above 60 degrees are subtracted from the totals. It is not a measure of how cold it gets as if you notice on the map, in north Mississippi I have as much or more chill hours than say North Dakota. Another factor is pollination. Almost all apples don't self-pollinate... they require a totally different variety. So if you buy 3 of the same apple trees at the store, you will not get good fruit set. And if you get separate varieties, you need to ensure they bloom at the same time.

I never buy my fruit trees locally but do so online. I strongly suggest going online & reading articles from your local agricultural college. They can tell you the chill hours for your area and may can help with variety selection.

 

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Apple trees grow like weeds in Wisconsin. We have 1 that is at least 20 feet tall and have photos of it there in 1960 it still produces a lot of apples. 3 just like we removed because of lighting strikes.
We have other smaller ones.
 

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@Smitty901 (or anyone else),

Anyone know what varieties of apples grow well in northern Wisconsin? It's a little ahead of time now, but we'd like to start planting the orchard either next year of the year after. I want apples to be a staple there, alone w/ whatever other fruit trees will grow will.

Also, anyone know what nut trees grow well in the area?

Obviously, I need to do some serious Internet research, but I was wondering if anyone had any first hand knowledge?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@Smitty901 (or anyone else),

Anyone know what varieties of apples grow well in northern Wisconsin? It's a little ahead of time now, but we'd like to start planting the orchard either next year of the year after. I want apples to be a staple there, alone w/ whatever other fruit trees will grow will.

Also, anyone know what nut trees grow well in the area?

Obviously, I need to do some serious Internet research, but I was wondering if anyone had any first hand knowledge?
Besides internet research, I suggest you visit some local commercial apple orchards and take note of what they are growing.

But even then, you have to be careful. Lots of these commercial operations do lots of spraying to have these beautiful, perfect apples people want to purchase. My point is, with lots of chemicals & equipment, one can grow most any apple anywhere. The trick is to find the varieties for your area that are low spray or no spray. That is where I personally received lots of bad info from my searches. Some apples are advertised to be disease resistant but my experience is, it depends. But since you don't have the heat & humidity that we do down south, maybe that will be less of a factor. But still, I suggest sticking to varieties that have resistance as opposed to something you would find in your store.
 

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If you can find them wolf river . They are a big apple growing great good for eating or baking.
 
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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
This is Enterprise, which is a modern disease resistant variety. Took these pictures this afternoon of a tree out front and not in the orchard. On the proper rootstock, such as MM.111, the tree gets rather large & is my most prolific grower. The apples have a great taste and are rather large. It is a real good storage apple too. I didn't prune it last winter & it is terribly bushy. Even down south, it is a low spray apple and I bet in many locations it is a no spray. The other reason I mention it is I think it is a perfect variety for the home grower/prepper. Most apple varieties have the fruit ripen all at or about the same time. That is nice for commercial operations but can be overwhelming for the home grower. Enterprise is the only variety I have that ripens over a huge window of time... like 2 months. IMO, it is kinda nice to pick a few every few days over a real long time period. Makes a real nice snack while cutting grass out front.





 
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