Gardening where the sidewalk ends

When Good Trees Go Bad September 15, 2008

This beautiful old apple tree is planted in the parking strip in my neighborhood.

Street apple tree

It’s lovely for most of the year, with its spreading branches, silvery bark and gently fragrant spring blossoms. Unfortunately, it’s grown to tall for its fruit to be picked easily, even with a stepladder, so during the fall, most of it drops to the ground.

Street apples

The owners put up this sign, hoping someone would cart away at least some of the mess, which is no doubt attracting some fun critters (Seattle is a water city, and where there’s water, boy are there a lot of rats!):

Apple tree sign

Um, I don’t know about you, but rotten-apple pie is not exactly tops on my list of favorite baked goods…

Rat food

I think this is a pretty good advertisement for dwarf varieties. (Obviously, I’m not blaming the tree for growing to its proper size! It’s just in the wrong place.) Fruit trees take a lot of work, pruning, thinning and so forth, and once one gets away from you it’s hard to get it back in check. Across our back alley, some folks had a neighborhood heirloom apple tree bequeathed to them years ago as a smallish transplant – now it’s a great, huge mess to deal with but they’d feel horribly guilty if they cut it down.

What about you – is there something in your garden that needs offing but you just can’t bring yourself to do it in?


8 Responses to “When Good Trees Go Bad”

  1. LindaLunda Says:

    Mmmm YUMMY… rutten appelcake are the best………not…..
    Here in my naborhod the appels dont last at the grownd… the elk and deer would eat it befor it even gets there….

  2. Shibaguyz Says:

    Greetings fellow Seattleites! How did we not run across you before now?? And where are these apple trees? We’ll be more than happy to harvest any apples that need picked. We can get the proper equipment for harvesting from taller trees and would love to can up some apple products.

    You can contact us directly through the email on our blog if you have any more apples to pawn off!

  3. Kanak Says:

    All that waste…made me feel really bad! I’m glad Shibaguyz are on their way! Reading their comment made me feel better!

  4. Hello

    Where I live (in Dorset, England) lots of people with more apples than they can use put them in boxes out by their gates, along with bags to put them in and notices to take them free of charge. At this time of year we take many from these boxes.

    Would your neighbour be persuaded to put them into boxes like this? It is a much more take-away-friendly way to offer them rather than to ask people to grope around in the mush.

    Lucy Corrander

  5. nancybond Says:

    Even gathered up for the compost bin would be a better alternative than apple juice along the sidewalk. 🙂

  6. Megan Says:

    Oh, I had an apple tree that did this, and I never ate a single apple, just picked up the rotten apples and put up with the vinegar smell. I finally had it removed last year. I still have a few trees that probably need to go, but it kills me to take them down, even when it’s the wrong tree in the wrong place. It takes courage.

  7. greenwalks Says:

    Linda –

    Wow, elk!? You must live somewhere pretty rural! We here in Seattle might have squirrels, raccoons or a possum to add to the rats, but that’s about it for apple-eaters.


    Shibaguyz –

    Thanks so much for volunteering to help with those apples. They’re not mine, and most had already fallen to the ground. If my folks have extras this year, though, I’ll let you know!


    Kanak –

    Yeah, what a waste, but they were probably diseased or infested with apple maggots anyway. Apple trees take a lot of care in our zone, unfortunately!


    Lucy –

    I like the idea of boxes. Another neighbor had a profusion of plums one year and put out a box and bags for people to take what they wished. Nice to share instead of waste!


    Nancy –

    Yeah, it was pretty gross. And stinky!


    Megan –

    I agree that it’s hard to let a tree go, even when it’s doing poorly. I’m sure you made the right choice to ditch the apple, if it was not right for your space.

    – Karen

  8. maria Says:

    is it ok to leave rotten apples on the ground to get a better soil?

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