As everyone in America knows, the summer 2012 growing season was one for the record books. Extreme heat and drought have dominated the headlines, climate change seems to be creeping into the common lexicon, and those of us who are ‘heavy gardeners, or light farmers” in the words of Utah Phillips, probably encountered many surprises this season. Starting back in late winter/early spring we had temps pushing the eighties in March!! The cherries, plums, and apples started blooming a month early and then most people here in Minnesota growing fruit trees got zapped by a hard frost (for those unlucky souls or should I say trees – more than once) and lost the majority of their blossoms!! We had good rains through May and June, and then in July and August the drought hit us and the Japanese beetles came and unleashed their hellish fury on our gardens!
Into October the drought continues and the gardens are winding down – in the next two to three nights we can expect frosts that will kill off most of the sensitive garden plants. As the season wanes, I can look back, and amidst the setbacks and strange weather, I feel like we did a good job stewarding our little ½ acre homestead. The quality on most of the vegetables this year was very high. Some highlights include the garlic, potatoes, carrots, salad mix, peppers, and tomatoes. Because of the spring frosts, we lost most of our tree fruit of the young trees, but one apple made it, and it proved its worth.
Gold Rush is an apple developed at the University of Purdue, and was released to the general public in 1992. It was developed with the intent to be resistant to numerous apple tree diseases, and also relatively cold hardy. Gold Rush is a large, conical, golden/green apple, with a blush of bronze on the sunny side of the apple. It is an offspring of Golden Delicious and has incredible storing properties – up to 7 months!! It can be eaten fresh, but is also used for baking, and an exceptional addition to cider. According to the Purdue website –
“ The fruit is characterized by a complex, rich spicy flavor with a high degree of acidity and sweetness. Acidity moderates in cold storage, resulting in exceptional overall quality after 2 to 3 months. The apple retains its complex sprightly flavor and crisp, firm texture for at least 7 months at 1 C. The cultivar has been rated consistently as the highest quality apple after storage of all selections or cultivars tested at Purdue Univ.”
Unfortunately, we only harvested one of these apples this year. It is the first apple harvested off of Son of !Frankentree! I received the scion wood two years ago, and it was the first successful graft I performed on Son of !Frankentree! Looking at the Gold Rush branch, it looks like that number could increase to about a dozen next year. Most likely I will be grafting up trees of just Gold Rush because it really was that good. The trees are suppose to be great producers that are an excellent choice for the backyard or hobby orchardist. If this one apple can be proof of that, I’m a believer! On a side note, having a tree that has multiple cultivars grafted onto it is a great way to experiment with new varieties. Next year, assuming there is no killing frost at bloom time or any of the other calamities that can affect fruit production, I will hopefully be getting Karmijan de Sonneville, Hall, Coe’s Golden Drop, and Steele’s Red all off of Son of !Frankentree! Pretty cool stuff if you ask me! I hope everyone’s fall harvest is going well – Peace & Cheers!