Apple Surprises & Morning Spiderwebs

I have just received two young bare-rooted apple trees from Heritage Food Crops Research Trust. They are Monty’s Surprise apples. The Trust sends them out for just the cost of shipping, which was $20 in my case. They also sent more tomato seeds, adding two more tetra-cis-lycopene varieties to my collection (Moonglow and Mini Orange) and three I already have, which I intend to pass on to someone else. I am particularly keen to try Moonglow as they are supposed to be very tasty as well as beneficial. You can read about these nutritious tomatoes here. I am very excited to have these apple trees too. What a blessing! If you haven’t heard of Monty’s Surprise, let me introduce you.

Monty’s Surprise is a high-health apple which has become the center of apple research done by Heritage Food Crops Research Trust in New Zealand and overseas as well. The fruit was discovered by chance on a very old, large apple tree. The fruit itself is large and the trees show good disease-resistance. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Consumption of these apples and products made from them has the potential to lower incidences of diseases including some cancers. This chance discovery in little old New Zealand could have profound benefits for many, many people. You can read more about the research here.

If you’re in New Zealand and would like to be sent a Monty’s Surprise apple tree, feel free to email Mark Christensen at the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust. They are dedicated to sharing these special crops with local communities, which I think is very special and honourable.

The Monty’s Surprise apple trees are grafted onto MM106 rootstock, which happens to be my rootstock of choice at the moment. The Cox’s Orange Pippin apple tree outside our living room window is grafted onto MM106. It has the effect of dwarfing the tree’s size a little bit, to around 4-5m high, of making it more resistant to woolly apple aphid and of increasing its production. The trees arrived bare-rooted and, since I could bust out a baby at any moment, I had to decide what to do with them. I know normal people don’t acquire bare-rooted fruit trees when they’re due to give birth, but that’s how I roll. They are only available in winter and I didn’t want to miss out! Fruit trees have certainly been in more demand since the pandemic began and I have had my mind on Monty’s Surprise apples for a while.

Since I hadn’t chosen a permanent spot in the garden, much of the garden outside of the veggie gardens is rather too weedy right now and I can’t really dig with a spade, that left me the options of heeling them into one of the raised beds in the Veggie Garden until I could deal with them later or potting them up. I opted to pot them up so I can keep an eye on them on the edge of the deck and I don’t have so much pressure to move them on. I’m only intending to plant one of the trees for us anyway. I sure am glad they arrived before the baby!

We are due to get frosts the next couple of mornings, which seems a bit foreign with the weather we’ve had, and it reminded me to share these photos of morning spider webs from last time we had frosty weather. I always enjoy seeing the spiders’ handiwork on frosty, dewy winter mornings.


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