An Apple A Day, or Two or Three
By: Tom Chatham
On a homestead there are certain things that you may want to grow that will give you the most for your time and space. Next to a vegetable garden a fruit orchard is a very wise investment in your future. Once planted and established a fruit tree requires very little time and resources compared to a garden.
Once it begins to produce fruit it will do so for many years and will increase its yield year after year until it matures. A fruit tree is one of the many ways to leverage your time and money and provide not only food for your family but possibly extra to sell for income.
One of the best fruit trees to have is an apple tree. Apples are very healthy and store relatively well. They are not as susceptible to loss from insects as most other fruits and can be grown in most places.
Apples are a food that can be stored and prepared in many ways. There is probably no other product that you can produce that is as versatile with the possible exception of a potato.
Fresh raw apples
Apple cider vinegar
Starting off with apples it is best to plant some semi-dwarf trees to start producing apples within 3 to 6 years. For longer term it is a good idea to plant a few standard size trees if you have the room. A standard size tree will not begin producing for 7 or 8 years but once it matures will provide many bushels of fruit. Standard trees allow you the opportunity to produce excess in enough volume to sell and produce a reasonable income from the effort.
The volume you get from full size trees will also allow you to produce value added products that will store longer and sell better than plain apples. This will allow you the opportunity to sell apple products most of the winter to even out your stream of income.
The benefit of having a good supply of apples is that you can make other products that are necessary on a homestead. Many products that you process for storage require vinegar. Pickles, salsa and pickled eggs are just a few that come to mind. The medicinal properties of vinegar should also not be overlooked.
Building a homestead means you are building a small factory to produce all of the things you will need. To do that, raw materials that can be used in many ways become essential. Items that you produce that leverage your capabilities and time determine how efficient your homestead will be. Fruit trees are just one way to do that.
Average years to bearing – Standard 8 years
Dwarf 3 to 6 years
Average yield per tree – Standard 10 to 20 bushels
Dwarf 1 to 6 bushels
Space needed per tree – Standard 25 to 30 foot circle
Dwarf 6 to 15 foot circle
Average mature height – Standard 25+ feet
Dwarf 6 to 20 feet
Useful life – Standard 50+ years
Dwarf 20+ years
Ten reasons to eat apples
Bone protection – French researchers have found that a flavonoid found only in apples called phloridzen may protect post menopausal women against osteoporosis and may increase bone density along with Boron also found in apples.
Asthma – One study shows that children with asthma who drank apple juice on a daily basis suffered less wheezing than children who drank it once a month. Studies also show that children born to women who eat lots of apples have lower rates of asthma.
Alzheimers prevention – A study on mice at Cornell University found that the quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimers disease.
Lower cholesterol – The pectin in apples lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol. Two apples a day may lower cholesterol by as much as 16%. This also promotes a healthy heart.
Colon cancer prevention – One study found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 43% lower risk of colon cancer. Other research shows the pectin in apples reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Breast cancer prevention – A Cornell University study found rats that ate one apple per day reduced the risk of breast cancer by 17%. Three apples a day reduced risk by 39% and six apples a day reduced risk by 44%.
Liver cancer prevention – One study shows that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 57% lower risk of liver cancer.
Lung cancer prevention – A study of 10,000 people showed those who ate the most apples had a 50% lower risk of developing lung cancer. Researchers believe this is due to the high levels of the flavonoids quercetin and naringin in apples.
Diabetes management – The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the bodies need for insulin and may help the management of diabetes.
Weight loss – A Brazilian study found women who ate three apples or pears per day lost more weight while dieting than women who did not eat fruit while dieting.