Over the past couple of weeks, in between lessons, work, and innumerable outdoor projects, I've been busy researching my newest obsession: heirloom apples. My interest in apples actually goes back several years to when I first read The Botany of Desire (a fascinating book!). However, during our recent "mini unit" for Johnny Appleseed's birthday, my interest was renewed.

I'm finding it absolutely thrilling to dig through old books researching the hundreds (really, thousands) of apple varieties that exist, or once existed. And in my research, I've stumbled upon dozens of equally interesting "rabbit trails," from Roman orchard management, to the history of apples in Kansas. I even learned about the two apples grown by Almanzo Wilder at his Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO (an article about the orchard, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, can be found here), which I found interesting.

Carefully I've drafted list upon list, trying to determine the varieties that I would most like to grow. With equal care, I've drawn up a map of our property...planning out proper spacing and where each tree will go. There's much to learn, and much to do. Finally, this was the list for our initial fall planting:


  • Ayers
  • Moonglow

This spring, we'll be adding the following:


  • Autumn Strawberry
  • Bee Bench
  • Green Horse
  • Ice
  • Haywood June
  • Forward Sour
  • Sal
  • Virginia Beauty
  • Yellow Horse
  • Yellow Winesap
  • Smokehouse
  • Sops in Wine
  • Pink Pearl
  • Court Pendu Plat
  • Winter White Pearmain
  • Ashmead's Kernel
  • Wickson Crab
  • Irish Peach
  • Madeleine
  • Beurre Gris d'Hiver Nouveau
  • Belle Angevine
  • Rousselt de Rheims

All in all, we'll have 35 semi-standard trees, and 20 (?) or more dwarf trees. I'm considering a handful of peach, cherry, apricot and plum trees as well, to add a little variety (and a Medlar tree!). A number of the varieties I've selected (in particular, the 4 French pears) will be a gamble - there was no data to document their success/failure here or disease resistance, so I'm taking a chance on their survival.

This winter, my goal will be to learn as much as possible about organic and low-spray orchard management, including farmscaping and integrated pest management. I'm hoping to add chickens (who will free range in the orchard) and an apiary next spring as well!

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn
sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all
the daylight hours in the open air." -- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Have I mentioned how much I love fall?! It is, hands down, my favorite season. The weather this year, in particular, has been SO lovely - it really is impossible to stay indoors. We've been especially busy as a result (hence the lack of posting).


  • We built a fabulous wild bird feeding station! Using a 4'x'4'x8' post and a 2'x4' cut down for cross beams, it holds four large bird feeders easily.
  • This week will be our final harvest in the garden since the temperature is expected to dip below freezing this weekend (with possible snow!).
  • We'll be pulling everything out of the garden, tilling the soil, and spreading manure in preparation for next spring.
  • Some of our herbs will be potted up for a move indoors during the winter, others will be harvested and dried for future use.
  • We've been planting apple trees! It started with two trees: a Red Delicious and a Granny Smith that we planted in honor of Johnny Appleseed's birthday. Now I've got an order placed for some additional [heirloom] trees, with plans for small orchard in what is currently our back field.
  • The large front flower beds have been weeded and new plantings added. We've done some additional landscaping work around the house, taking advantage of the fall sales on plants and shrubs.
  • We started a large raspberry patch that includes 'Fall Red' and 'Heritage' raspberries. I'll be adding a few 'Fall Gold' raspberry plants this spring.
  • We're preparing a large gooseberry and currant patch, as well as a trial blueberry/huckleberry/lingonberry patch. I've got plants on the way and will need to get them in the ground and mulched ASAP!
  • We ordered our winter's supply of firewood to be delivered.


  • The cooler weather seems to have brought out a serious nesting instinct in me this year. I've been doing some much needed deep cleaning and purging the house of all unnecessary clutter.
  • Stocking up has been on my mind a lot lately as well. This weekend I'll be re-organizing our pantry and baking cabinet and making a list of what items need to be replinished.
  • Laundry has been all-consuming these days. Winter bedding and blankets are being washed, summer clothes put away and winter clothes brought out from storage.
  • It's time to start thinking about Christmas shopping, yikes...

School has been bare bones these days, only the basics. I simply don't have time (or energy) to cover all of the extras I'd so carefully planned for. While I'm a little sad about that, I've also realized that it's a necessity right now. The kids are still learning plenty, and it's not a "forever" change.