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Newton’s apple. No, really.


We went to an apple fayre this weekend.

You know you’re in for an authentic British experience when they spell ‘fayre’ with a ‘y’.

Over 200 varieties of apples were there. Which is nothing. There are thousands of cultivated varieties (and many thousands more of not very useful wild apples).

They have sequenced the apple’s genome and found an apple has nearly twice the genes of a human being. That means apples are complicated and don’t breed clones. I saw this program on apple genetics several years ago, so bear with me if my memory is generic.

If you eat an apple and like it, and plant the seed in your garden, you will get a tree that bears a fruit that almost certainly bears no resemblance to that apple you liked so much. Also, it will be tall and awkward, because natural apples are. If you see a grove of natural apple trees in the wild, they will all bear different apples. There might be a hidden star in there with desirable characteristics. On the other hand, you’re more likely to find sour and awful fruits, as the modern apple shares more of its genome with the crabapple than its true wild ancestor.

For commercial apples, they take cuttings from the successful tree and graft them onto other rootstocks with desirable traits — like, usually dwarf rootstocks that make little, pickable trees. All the modern Granny Smiths, for example, come from cuttings from the original Granny. So really, when you think about it, that apple from Newton’s garden really is from Newton’s garden, if probably many intermediate trees removed.

Yes, I bought an Isaac Newton. It’s in a bag with four other ‘heritage’ apples, though, so I don’t know who’s who. This could be a problem because it’s a cooking apple.


Comment from Crabby Old Bat
Time: October 23, 2017, 9:30 pm

Off topic: Banjo alert! Snap up that vinyl before Uncle Stilton puts it on eBay.


Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: October 23, 2017, 9:47 pm

I’ve always found it interesting that apples were involved in ‘The Fall©’ in Eden, are eaten in the fall, and the fall of an apple was involved in Newton’s theory of about why apples fall.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: October 23, 2017, 9:51 pm

I read that there are still cherry trees planted by Henry VIII growing and bearing fruit. Also read that people run around harvesting the fruit from abandoned fruit trees/orchards.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 23, 2017, 10:14 pm

I have that one on CD, Crabby Old Bat. Yes, I’m serious.

Yes, it’s awful.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 23, 2017, 11:08 pm

Periodically throughout my life I’ve tried to sprout apple seeds. I know it’s a fool thing to do, but I try anyway. The last time I tried, I planted 13 seeds and got six sprouts. After two years, I had six healthy 12″ tall apple treelings (in the original big pot I sprouted them in). I was overjoyed. My goal was to braid three together and shape with with wire, to make an apple bonsai. I didn’t expect fruit; I was just playing and thought I might get blossoms.

Had to go out of town for two weeks and left careful instructions with Husband to water my trees—my three precious citrus trees and my pot of little apple trees. For some reason he overlooked the apples, and when I got home I had six crispy sticks. I pulled one out of the dirt and even the roots were crispy.

But I’m ready to try again, though it’s the wrong time of the year probably. Has anyone here ever tried an apple bonsai? An Issac Newton Bonsai would be a great conversation piece 🙂

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: October 23, 2017, 11:27 pm

@Deborah HH – Sorry, I have no experience with apple horticulture, but I like your apple bonsai idea a lot! Maybe you could sprout Golden Delicious seeds and bonsai the resulting plants. That way there might actually come something good from those awful mealy things.

Comment from Crabby Old Bat
Time: October 23, 2017, 11:39 pm

So, Johnny Appleseed wasted his life?

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: October 23, 2017, 11:52 pm

Heritage apples not hate! Re-enactor humor. Shoulda labeled all those statues of old Marse Robert with that.

I lived in an apartment complex built in an old orchard in Marlboro Mass back before they harnessed electricity.
In the fall one of the trees across from my window would produce red delicious apples on one side, and golden delicious on the other courtesy of grafting of the kind Hillary Clinton cannot do.

Quite interesting to actually SEE it.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: October 24, 2017, 12:59 am

Crabapple trees are pollinators, I read somewhere. I don’t remember why regular trees don’t pollinate themselves but the comment was crabapples were/are used by growers to get better pollination

The only reason why this sticks in my brain is, I had a crabapple tree. Until it grew up into the powerlines. It was good deer bait, and you can make crabapple pickles or something. But it had the fungus and maggots but produced a lot of crabapples.

Looked pretty in the spring when it blossomed.

Comment from Pupster
Time: October 24, 2017, 1:07 am

The house where I grew up had a big crabapple tree, they were super fun to chuck at your sister if you were so inclined, or they were perfect slingshot ammo. In the fall when they were all rotting on the ground they were a huge yellow jacket hazzard, I don’t know why but those little effers loved that stuff and would aggressively defend it.

Comment from Bob
Time: October 24, 2017, 2:41 am

My father’s hobby was gardening, he called it “plant propagation”. I learned a thing or two from him and now I have one of those infernal green thumbs. If I leave a shovel in the ground too long, it sprouts. I have limes, kumquats, jujube, Thai magrut, Thai noyna, Thai wawa, avocados, Fuyu persimmons and pomelo. My beloved wife is continually giving me seeds from sweet oranges to plant so we can have our own sweet oranges. Guess what? 1. They don’t grow. 2. If they do grow, they don’t bear fruit. I gather the commercial groves are grafted.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 24, 2017, 2:58 am

@Bob. I wish you were my neighbor 🙂

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: October 24, 2017, 3:15 am

Pupster: Had a crab apple tree. One January, as snow was melting, heard a lot of chatter and saw about 10 birds flapping around under neath the tree. Saw all these crab apples and tasted one. Alcohol! The snow coverage caused them to ferment and there were a lot of drunk happy birds. Or at least I assumed they were happy.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: October 24, 2017, 3:33 am

In anticipation of stoaty & uncle B celebrating the burning of Catholics in a few weeks (that’s a strange holiday), I’m watching the mini series Gunpowder. Too much torture. Sheesh.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: October 24, 2017, 10:43 am

Yeah, heard the scenes of the actual barf inducing execution tortures induced barf.

There is a reason people thought being hung, drawn and quartered was worth minding the laws to avoid.

There is a reason civilized cultures don’t do that kind of stuff any more, and a reason a few other cultures do.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: October 24, 2017, 2:35 pm

Frankly, I dont see how one could be alive after they cut your genitalia off, cut you open, & cut off pieces of your bowel. You would have to had massive blood lost. Very Kim Jung Un and ISIS like, no?

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: October 24, 2017, 5:20 pm

Wow. I used to go to Renaissance Faires. Never saw one spelled “Fayre,” darn it.

And Bat, Johnny Appleseed really did exist, but he wasn’t planting apple trees for eating. At that time hard cider was America’s fermented beverage of choice.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: October 24, 2017, 6:27 pm

That must have been a’fore the gubmint sent out tha IRS to crush them whiskey distillin and swillin farmers!

No whiskey taxation with representation!

Comment from AliceH
Time: October 24, 2017, 6:42 pm

Skandia: I enjoyed your book very much, and am so intrigued by that universe I want to know more. Is Wolf Hunters: Origins the first in the series? Let me know. I’ve got two fiddy dollahs burnin’ a hole in my pocket. (-:

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 24, 2017, 6:59 pm

Yeah, I’m not sure we’re going to watch Gunpowder, Ric Fan. We understand it’s really gross.

Deborah, I’d be happy to send you the seeds from my Isaac Newton. Although Customs would probably pitch a fit if they opened the packet.

If I can remember which one of these heritage apples is the Isaac Newton.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: October 24, 2017, 7:22 pm

I wouldnt say it is more gruesome than other period pieces I have seen, stoaty. As a period movie, it is well done. It’s just the cruelty of the torturers and the baying crowd that gets to me. It’s hard for me to understand how people could lack any and all empathy.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: October 24, 2017, 8:50 pm

I think they were far more intimately linked to death and dying (and murther and violins ), both gentle and gruesome, on a daily basis than modern 1st worlders can readily grasp.
People didn’t go off to big buildings to die courtesly and quietly out of sight. Animals were probably slaughtered right outside the door on a regular basis.

Also any men who were soldiers or levees had probably been on one end (or the other) of sharp pointy objects specifically and carefully crafted to be stuck into other people’s vitals with malice aforethought as you looked them in the eye with the absolute intent to do serious bodily harm.

They were probably a far harder lot than we are by necessity.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 24, 2017, 9:09 pm

Oh Stoaty—yes please to the Issac Newton seeds. If you can remember which apple it is. I’ll do some research to see if it’s ok to receive the seeds through the mail.

Comment from Formerly known as Skeptic
Time: October 25, 2017, 4:19 pm

Ric and Pupster: I’ve had the combined effect, drunk yellowjackets! Actually they were a lot easier to deal with than the sober ones. Pupster is right, they’re nasty around those apple trees.

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