Growing Sugar

Still dreaming about my upscale burrow.  Maybe a nice name would be in order.  So far only Tierra Mia (my earth) has come up.  Especially sounds cozy today with fierce winds 20-30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph.  I am glad I moved 5 tons of concrete block (not free to me labor) because my trailerstead no longer has that icy wind sucking heat out from underneath and feels more stable in the gusts.  This morning’s rain turned into sleet turned into snow.  I have at least 4 inches accumation now and expect up to 12 inches by midnight.  The interstate is shut down to all but emergency travel.  Three more days of snow.

So I get to stay home and dream about spring.  Right now I am dreaming about sugar and alternate types of sugar because I cannot grow sugar cane in these New Mexico mountains!  Sugar is one of those market economy items that is long on shipping and I want my Food Forest to feed me inside its circular economy.

I sprouted six Honey Locust last year and kept them in pots all winter.  I dithered too long and they lost their leaves and are sitting out in the snow.  Now I wish I had brought them inside for another winter.  Boy it is sink or swim in the Food Forest.  Of all things now growing here, Honey Locust is the most likely to give me sweet syrup.

I ordered sugar beet seeds in the summer and will try growing them in 2016.  I have grown standard beets and found them easy, so I am guessing that sugar beets are just as easy to grow.

Apple juice is a good sweetener,  even more so if concentrated, but volume is low.  I have one apple tree, a Honeycrisp.  It is my favorite market economy eating apple but considering there are 6000 or so varieties of apples… I hate to make any big commitment on that.  I need a group 4 pollinator because the closest apple tree is a half mile away.

I choose group 4 Jonagold to pollinate my Honeycrisp.  It doesn’t store as long but is better for cooking, and is good for juicing and cider.  I have never planted a Jonagold but have grown a Jonathan, one of its parents.  I am pegging this one for applesauce.  For moist baked goods using less fat, applesauce is wonderful.  It will even make bran muffins palatable!

Apples are versatile and I want to add a couple more varieties.  I want a Dolgo crabapple which is a group 2 pollinator and will probably bloom about the same time as my Sargent crabapple.  It is a good variety for making cider and pectin for canning.  My kids loved these little apples.  It is hardy to -30°F, a plus on our vicious cold days.  This is an easy little tree that I have grown before.

Next, I would like to try an heirloom variety, a Newtown Pippen from 18th Century America.  It is not pretty but has dense, crisp, and juicy flesh with a hint of pineapple.  It can be eaten fresh, cooked, juiced, and in cider.  It is good to -30°F.   This is a new variety for me and I am looking forward to trying it.  The flavor improves after a month of storage, and is another variety that stores 3 or more months.  Newtown is a group 3 pollinator.

The last one is another heirloom called Lady Apple in the US but Api in France where it originated in the early 17th century.  It is a small tree with small apples, but the apples are aromatic and were used to scent rooms.  It does not store as long but is good for eating fresh or making juice or cider.  It is also a group 3 pollinator.

I cannot eat so many apples, but having such a wealth of space is tempting me to plant all the above.  I have never had more than one tree, because… space… and because older neighborhoods have other apple trees close enough for pollination.

I am pleased to have space for heirloom trees.  Many apple tree species are dying out and I hate to see that happen.  If these survive here in my Food Forest, I may have a heck of a crop.  Late frosts and early winters may play havoc and some may only fruit sporadically.

A gal I know planted a seed from her grandmother’s apple tree up north and has never seen fruit.  It looks healthy so my guess is that her Albuquerque garden does not get enough cold.  Perhaps it will fulfill its cold requirement this year and surprise her with a bountiful harvest next year.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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