Appalachia Gardening

Goodbye Apple Tree

small pile of apple tree logs

Slightly behind as usual, The Deer Hunter and I went out to prune the apple trees a couple weekends ago. After we finished with the first one The Deer Hunter said “I’m not so sure about that other one.” I said “What do you mean? Let’s just prune it too.” As he walked up to the tree and pushed on it he said “Look how its leaning. I think its dead.” With one hard push the tree toppled over. I said “Well that was easy pruning.”

I wondered aloud if the huge amount of rain we’ve had killed the tree. The Deer Hunter said he didn’t know but was afraid the other tree may be on its way out too.

He got his power saw to cut the tree up. I asked if he was going to use the larger pieces for firewood, he said nope he was going to try to make his own apple chips for the smoker. I’ll let you know how the chips turn out.


p.s. Have you ever heard burning apple wood in a woodstove is bad luck?

canning jars full of food

Come cook with me!

Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, August 23 – Saturday, August 29, 2020
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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  • Reply
    Gary Griffith
    March 13, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    I heard my father say different times it was bad luck to burn fruit wood although I burned some when a tree died. I always suspected it was a superstition started to discourage sorry tenants or renters from using the orchard to provide their stove wood. I heard the old folks talk about seeing a renter take a board off the outside of the house to kindle a fire.
    I have some apple trees grafted from a tree my great uncle transplanted as a seedling and several old time varieties I bought. People don’t seem to realize that the apples available in the stores are there because they ship and store well, and not because they taste good, Any apple you buy today (March) was picked a long time ago

  • Reply
    March 12, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Tipper, thats almost what happened to our cherry trees. We only have 3 little ones. Just bout gone.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you Tipper!!!!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 10, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    I’ve never heard that burning apple wood is bad luck. I’m interested in how the Deer Hunter plans to chip up the tree. Does he have access to a wood chipper.

    • Reply
      March 11, 2020 at 7:51 am

      Ed-He doesn’t have access to a chipper so he’ll have to come up with something 🙂

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    March 10, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Apple used to be the preferred wood to carve by the Brasstown Carvers. Just ask Helen Gibson. It finishes to the perfect color for deer.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      March 10, 2020 at 7:40 pm

      I have some crabapple and bradford pear wood. Would the be good for carving?

  • Reply
    March 10, 2020 at 11:03 am

    I never heard that burning applewood was bad luck, because when Mama’s apple tree died, we got the wood for our stove. Applewood is good for smoking food, especially barbecue.

  • Reply
    Jim K
    March 10, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Tipper, hate to hear about your trees. Seems like it’s harder to grow fruit than when I was younger with all the blights and insects you have to be vigilant of. As a teen all I remember doing to trees in the orchard was pruning.
    I was lucky to have met the late Tim Hensley before he past away, his mission was traveling the mountains of Va,TN and NC trying to find old varieties of apples s suh as VA Beuaties, Johnathans, and Libertys to graft from.
    The big box stores are for of the genetically modified varieties. Tim often remarked how closely the history of the Apple trees was connected with that of man.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 10, 2020 at 10:33 am

    I remember Ben Davis Apple trees and a bunch of others that died in our Orchard when I was just a little thing. There were others in that Orchard, but I can’t remember their Names. They served others that lived there before us for 50 to 60 Years. Daddy showed us how to preserve them Apples by piling them up in a pile and covering them up with leaves and tarpaper.

    When winter came, we were Possum Hunting with our Feists and waiting on them to tree, and you could Dig down into that pile of Apples and have a Feast. It looked like a bunch of Graves, but boy they were Good. They were Old-Timey Apples, you can’t find anymore. How I wish we could re-live those times, and all my brothers and Daddy and Mama were still Alive. …Ken

  • Reply
    March 10, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Tell Ron Stephens we’re not stingy. We’re frugal. Every peeling at our house goes to the garden. I save banana peelings all winter to bury under my tomatoes.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2020 at 9:56 am

    I never heard that one and I’ve never burned apple wood in the fire place.
    When I retired from a steel mill I cut firewood and sold it by the truck load. A little of that wood was apple and quite a bit was wild black cherry. I had no complaints about the apple wood. A friend liked apple the best, loved the smell. Of course all people loved hickory and oak.
    W.I. mentioned sassafras as a medicine which made me think of a job I was bidding on but lost by having no insurance. The tree was a huge sassafras blown down in a wind storm. It was over 30 inches thru. Should have been in a record book. I guess the business didn’t want to be bothered.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2020 at 9:35 am

    My two old standard size apple trees died during the ice storm of 2009 and I used every piece of the cut wood in my stove. Mom’s newly planted Sheepnose Apple Tree was transplanted here after she passed away. The few apples it has produced are always scrawny, but I still don’t want to lose it. I spent a lot of money buying grafting materials that didn’t work. I checked it one day last week and it looks like I have lost the battle to save it. I’m not taking any chances on bad luck like I did in 2009.

  • Reply
    John Hickman
    March 10, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I use a pellet smoker and I WILL NEVER go back to ANY other type of grill, some of my pellets have apple wood in them and most professional bbq places use many fruit woods as it gives a sweet and milder smoke flavor over like hickory wood has a stronger smoke flavor. I have not heard that burning apple wood for heat is bad luck, but it sure makes good smoking for meats on a grill,.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2020 at 8:44 am

    I felt so sad when the ancient apple tree by my house died. It was a small tree, and I left it standing because one of my cats had always loved climbing it, and it still served as a “perch.” When it finally came down (I believe it had some “help” from my hound) it had been reduced to a hollow trunk and a couple of branches, one of which I kept to form an edge to a garden bed.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 10, 2020 at 8:14 am

    The Deer Hunter is demonstrating the country folk’s thriftiness. That’s what I do to. Nearly everything can be put to another good use. Some folks who don’t understand might think it being stingy but that just shows how little they know and how accustomed many folks are to being wasteful.

    When Jaemor Farms over at Lula, GA trims their apple trees they put out the wood for sale by individual stick down at the store. It doesn’t last long. They also sell pecan hulls. That was a new one to me so I had to ask. Turns out the grilling folks use them, some preferring the hulls to solid wood. Fine-ground black walnut hulls are used as a polishing and cleaning agent.

    I had not heard about burning apple wood being bad luck. At a guess though I would say it is an indirect reference to being un-thoughted about the future, such as in eating the seed corn. The wood warms for a day. The tree feeds you for a lifetime and quite possibly your kids and grandkids.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2020 at 8:11 am

    Never heard it was bad luck to use apple wood in the stove but was told too never burn sassafras for that would bring bad luck. Upon further investigation I found the reason was because sassafras was used for medicine. I live in SW VIRGINIA.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    March 10, 2020 at 8:02 am

    And goodbye Good Apple Pie. Never heard it was bad luck to burn apple wood in a stove-Well, let me add a disclaimer:
    If I ever heard it, I have forgotten, which is a good possibility!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 10, 2020 at 7:32 am

    Wonder why they died. Seems like they would be in the prime of their lives. Will you replace them?
    I think wood chips are a great Idea. …leave it to the Deer Hunter to think of it!

    • Reply
      March 10, 2020 at 8:37 am

      Miss Cindy- I do hope to repace it. I need to ask Farmer Tim what kind his trees are.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Never heard it was bad luck to burn in a wood stove, but makes some fine smoke for a smoker, were got us a smoker/grill, last year and using these wood pellets with a blend of apple, cherry, maple and hickory, I’m telling you we will never go back to a charcoal or gas grill it makes for some wonderful tasting meat, whatever you cook on it, ours you can cook slow for the smoke or turn it up and use it like a grill, it’s wonderful.

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