Mike here. Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, but I’ve been busy in the garden.
Busy harvesting seven bushels of other people’s apples. Busy washing them, grinding them into pulp and squeezing the ever-lovin’ juice out of those suckers in our cider press.
The latest version of our press from Jaffrey
Other garden chores lately include cutting down the corn-stalk with my machete/corn knife and bundling them for fall decorations, as well as gathering up about 10 pumpkins I grew at our satellite community garden and delivering them to the art teacher at Bonjour School.
That’s the quick and dirty, but there’s a lot more behind all that. So in reverse order:
The pumpkins and corn: I grew both crops, as well as watermelons, on three plots in a community garden that had its first year behind Bonjour Elementary, 9400 Pflumm Road, in Lenexa. Sadly, it may be the last year for that partnership between Bonjour and nearby Lenexa United Methodist Church.
Bonjour is likely to close for good at the end of this school year, which made the pumpkin delivery more poignant than planned. I planted the seeds in June (which was kind of late) rather than let a vacant plot in the community garden go entirely to weeds with the idea that the kids in school could decorate the gourds for Halloween.
That was before any of us knew that Bonjour was on the chopping block. So what was to have been an annual tradition turned out to be a one-time deal. So long, Bonjour, we’ll miss you.
Other donations to the school were the dried up corn stalks that I’m hoping some teachers will use to adorn their room this fall. I brought a couple of bundles home and let the neighborhood know that the rest were free for the taking.
I like free things, which brings us to the apples:
Once again, the squirrels picked our three trees clean. So just like last year and the year before, I scouted out seemingly untended apple trees in the neighborhood that were loaded with fruit.
I got three bushels of nice, tart apples from one tree at an insurance agency, leaving only a few for the birds. don’t think it was an act of kindness, however. The top apples were out of my reach.
Another tree I frequent at an abandoned gas station wasn’t worth picking. It was an off year, made worse by a severe trimming.
So I set my eye on a tree that a fellow scavenger has long laid claim to. Rather than jumping his claim, I knocked on his door and made a deal. Whatever he didn’t pick was mine, and he would square it with the tree’s owner.
Thus another four bushels were secured and I put our 20-year-old, hand-cranked cider press back to work.
Several hours later, I had nine gallons of the sweet stuff in plastic jugs. All but two jugs are now stored away in the chest freezer along with all the broccoli, beans and other vegetables we froze instead of canned this year.
Of the remainder, one jug went to my friend Ronnie as a finder’s fee (it’s sort of his tree because he picks it every year ) and the other one I gave to the tree owner.
Though the way I figure it, she got more than apple juice out of the deal. When fall is through, there’ll be that many fewer apples rotting under her tree.
You can use that as a selling point the next time you think about asking someone whether it would be ok to have some of the apples, pears or cherries hanging from the trees in their yard.
Though if it’s my yard, don’t bother. Rox and I have plans for everything that grows.
Posted by: Mike
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