14n. FRUIT AND NUT TREES AND SCUPPERNONGS
While there are only a few left in relation to when I was growing up, there were many different trees that produced goodies that we harvested and some made into some great cobblers, etc.
There were 5 sand pear trees out behind the toilet and chicken house that produced some good canning pears for cooking down to make semi-sweet toppings for biscuits. Then, down by the old garden, down the hill towards the pond, there were three what we called “eating pears” that were the best and would be the softest to eat when they got good an ripe. Then there was another tree that had what seemed to be a cross between the eating pears and the sand pears. That tree was loaded down every year. They never did get really soft to eat, but were so moist that when you’d bite into one juice would run down your chin. They were the best for canning and preserves. Those 4 trees were down by the old garden towards the pond from the house.
There is still quite a large area that is the pecan orchard that Granddaddy Wood planted with several varieties of pecans from small seedlings, to paper shells to Stuarts. These trees have never had much care and a number of them were lost when the orchard grew up in other trees before Daddy retired and cleared it back out.
In my part of the place, there are still about 23 trees. Only about half of them produce as I haven’t done much to fertilize, prune and care for the trees as they should have. In a good year we may harvest a couple of hundred pounds of nuts that we have cracked for our use and to give away. We seldom bother to harvest the hard to shell and hard to pick out seedlings.
Another type tree that still produce nuts are the two black walnut trees that are just outside the cow lot. One of these trees blew down and left a hollow stump about 8 feet high. One limb grew out of the top of the stump and still produces. The other tree stands tall and has nuts on it every year. We used to pick up the green ones that were about 2 ½ inches diameter and throw them at the cows if they tried to run away to keep from going into the lots during the summer months. I’d hate to be hit in the head with one of those green ones! The nuts are so hard they must be cracked with a hammer while holding the nut with some pliers. There isn’t much meat in them, but what is there is very strong. They’re particularly good in good ole homemade ice cream.
We never had but one apple tree. It was located about where Lonesome Pine is now. Seldom would any of the fruit on that tree ripen as we’d watch them so long and so closely that when the slightest bit of color came on an apple, it would be picked and quickly eaten.
There were 5 J-berry trees (Improved Mulberry) that were all around the yards. They produced very large, sweet purple berried about 3/8” diameter and up to about 1 ½ inch long. (Sylvia used to tell Lowery and me that they’d get as long as her hand!!!) They really made good jam and cobblers especially if a few were added in that weren’t quite ripe as they’d have a little more acid to them than the really ripe ones did. Of course, anyone could tell when they had been eating them as our lips and fingers would be purple. There is only one of those trees left and I have to keep it trimmed back as it is between the old shop and the new tractor shed.
There was one wild mulberry tree that was in the horse lot. It typically produced the very small berried and we seldom did anything with them.
There were a couple of fig trees out behind the smoke house but the chickens kept them eaten back to where we didn’t get much fruit from them. This is my favorite fruit grown in the area as they cook down into the best preserves imaginable.
The other fruit producer was and still is the two scuppernong vines. These vines were originally out back by the apple tree. In the late 40’s Joe and Fred moved them to the chicken yard that was located north of the old tractor shed. They kinda lay dormant for a couple of years. Finally, Mother told Joe to put some chicken manure around them and dig it in. The very next year they started to produce. Daddy built an arbor that was about 8 feet wide, 6 feet high and about 40 feet long. This was made by welding some of the old cattle gap pipes together into s “U” shape. Soon he widened it by another 6 feet. A couple of years ago, the old pipes and the net wire had rusted out, so I cut them all back and built a new vertical arbor from green house piping. They are much easier to get to for eating off the vine or harvesting some for making some good jelly. It looks like we will have a good crop this year. These scuppernongs are the old fashion golden colored grapes. There are a number of newer breeds that may be a little larger and in different colors, but are not as sweet as these are. I always look forward to about the first of September when they begin to ripen!
There is only one pear tree on the place now. We planted 4 trees about 8 years ago. Two died soon after they were planted. The other two produced until Katrina blew one of them down and left only one. It is loaded with this year’s crop waiting to ripen.
We tried to grow 6 fig trees in the “nasty garden” plot. Three died soon after planting, then a late freeze in 2008 severely damaged the other three. Also, we planted several blueberry bushes that failed to grow in the sandy soil of the nasty garden. So we don’t have lots of luck with newly planted fruit and nut trees.