The Life of an Apple Tree
What is a reasonable life for a tree? Does that idea change when considering what kind of tree one is contemplating?
There are craggy trees by the side of the road abandoned but still bearing blossom and fruit. There are tenderly cared for orchards and trees neglected in city yards and greenways.
Our city has an urban forester and tree specialist just focused on trees until their yearly vacation dates arrive. They have interesting answers and recommendations but they do not pay the bill.
There are two old Western Cedar trees which have rocked and rolled the sidewalk, deposited thousands of needles in my gutters, uplifted the street and could fall on my house in the right wind storm (Plus they block the sun from the solar panels 2 hours a day at high noon.). What is my responsibility to these trees and to the owner?
We had to take out 8 massive fruit and nut trees when we moved into our house 20 years ago. As the major rain storm the day we moved in excited rotting limbs to fall and break during the night in a horrifying thundering nightmare.
4 apple trees remain. One Gravenstein is over 100 years old, very tall and extremely beautiful. The tree has paid its way with applesauce to sell, dried apples to gift, pie to enjoy, and buckets full to share with friends.
With homemade coddling moth traps, a bit of fertilizer, geranium and natural sprays, pruning and lots and lots of water, this tree has been part of our lives. The deer, raccoons, possums, and squirrels love this tree as much as our family. My Mother spent her last days watching the finches, sap suckers, and woodpeckers dance about and the tree cycle through its year of growth and release.
No one is at home to climb and prune this huge old remnant of the orchard. The tree is unable to ward off the moths and apple maggot. The many uncared for trees in our neighborhood re-infect this tree about every two weeks. Even English Ivy is growing up the rotting part of the trunk and coming out of a limbing hole near the top. This tree took $800 of care this year for 2 batches of apple sauce and three pies.
The tallest growth on the tree blocks the solar panels for an hour when it is not pruned.
How does one make these decisions? It is not in any manual or instruction book. Although a true orchardist would have a bottom line not just 3 freezers full of last year’s applesauce.
Are we part of the problem or part of a solution?
We have walked through the decision stages and researched and still we are at odds.
My partner says we should just prune it to keep the panels unblocked and let it go. I vote for cutting it down, renewing it, and preserving the environment for the critters to enjoy and model responsible tree care.
How does one measure the life of a tree? What part does hunger, shade, and beauty play?
We would value your comments on our decision.