A Typical Apple Harvest From a Small Apple Tree.

This is how I envisioned the first apple harvest from my own small apple trees would be.

Karen Bertelsen in red rose covered vintage dress, sitting on grass with a basket of ripe apples.

Sitting on a lush field of green surrounded by antique wicker baskets spilling with fresh, crisp apples. These apples would magically transform themselves into pies. Obviously.  As I floated across the grass towards home, wicker basket nestled in the crook of my arm, I’d glance over my shoulder at the wonder of the world that created this feast of sweet fruit. . Also I would look super-cute.

This is how it actually was.

Sorry to shatter the dream.

I did end up getting slightly more than one apple from my very first true apple harvest but it wasn’t much more than one.  I got 11 apples.   Of the 6 varieties I grow I managed to salvage 2 varieties.  The rest were stolen by a band of ne’re do well squirrels.

In defence of my dream, the apples I did get were gorgeous.  Big, healthy fruit without a single blemish.  My main harvest was of Jonagolds, a sweet eating apple with a barely there tartness.

How did this happen?  How did I go from 70 apples on my tree to 11?

This is a Typical Small Apple Tree Harvest

Like this:

  • In early June I thinned my apples to one apple per cluster to improve the quality of my apples.
  • After thinning I was left with 70 apples on my 2, small espalier trees.
  • Every apple was bagged with a ventilated plastic bag to keep disease and critters off of them.
  • Early July I  noticed the apples were so hot in their bags because of our scorching summer that the skin on some of them was scalded, so I removed the bags.
  • Enter critters, stage left.
  • One morning in late July I glanced out my kitchen window to see an apple sitting on my neighbour’s fence. Weird. I wonder why she left that there.
  • The next morning I found an apple under my tomato plant.
  • That night I found a  half eaten apple in the middle of the road.
  • A few days later, looking down upon me from my roof was a squirrel.  With an apple.
  • This continued off and on for the next few weeks until I finally tangled my espalier trees up with  deer fencing so squirrels couldn’t get to my apples.
  • And then I found more apples scattered around the neighbourhood.
  • I tightened up the knot of fencing around my trees and hoped for the best.  Squirrels are more tenacious than you might think. And smarter. And hungrier.

By the end of the season I had 11 apples left.


When you consider both the size of the trees and myself there’s really no reason to be disappointed. I can only eat so many apples and wouldn’t have anywhere to keep baskets upon baskets of them for long term storage anyway.

So really it’s kind of a good thing that I only got 11 apples. Although a few bushels may have been just the nudge I needed to move to an actual farm where I’d have farmhands neatly lined up in military trenches ready to shoot squirrels.


When I first picked my apples I shared a picture of them on Instagram and everyone wanted to know if I had picked these apples myself WHY would they have stickers on them???

Good question.

Before picking the apples I put a sticker on them to indicate which type they were so I wouldn’t get them confused.  J for Jonagold, M for McIntosh and ? for Don’t know what the hell this one is, I found it on the ground.


My 9 apples are now stored safely in my refrigerator. Only 9 because I ate two of them.  If I don’t force myself to eat them right away, I’m the type of person who will continue to save these few apples I’m so very proud of, until they just rot into a liquid puddle of squoo at the bottom of my fridge.

I shall now formulate a plan to get me through next year’s harvest with at least 30 apples and no dead squirrels.

I’ve already taken care of the most important part of it all – I’ve ordered a new vintage apple picking dress.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←


A Typical Apple Harvest From a Small Apple Tree.


  1. Colleen Connor says:

    I planted espalier combo apple and pear trees this past spring. What is all this talk about bagging the fruit? I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Oh and all the squirrels and chipmunks I am dealing with right not for my bulbs, it is like fighting the Caliphate. The resident ones met their maker (not sure how, found a few dead ones) but the replace soldiers are much much worse.

  2. Marna says:

    Those darn squirrels! They do still a lot and don’t finish eating what they start on, then go on to another one or something else! I have dogs that love squirrels, and will kill them if I don’t scare the squirrels off (birds too). Luckily the dogs aren’t always out, and we do use netting on some things. So far they don’t like my Meyer lemons.

  3. Jacquie Gariano says:

    I just love your posts. So funny. We have a city lot but my daughter gets the most out of it. (I have a black thumb, only allowed to weed and harvest) We have a peach and appacot (sic) tree and have had many years of feeding the squirrels and birds. Tried a lot of things and some worked, most not. The birds really love the strawberries and tomatoes. We have discussed an apple tree, but live only 2 hours away from Apple Hill in Placerville, CA. So since they have apples, apple cider, fudge and other great treats we take our granddaughter and go there. There are so many things to do with apples: apple juice, apple butter, applesauce, frozen apple pie mix, apple muffins, apple cider doughnuts (my favorite) that we do come home with a lot.
    Keep up the good work and keep writing your blog, we all seem to love it a lot.

  4. Bessie says:

    I fight with Squirrels every year. -Enter garage sale.– find small trap. Put peanuts in trap–set by best place to get them . Catch squirrel — Take to area by river . Release . Caught 28 this year and gave new home. No more chewed up bird feeders , tomatoes, apples or zucchini. — I see one at feeder this morning .
    Time to get out trap.

  5. Meg says:

    What gorgeous apples! I love your apple posts!

    We had a big old tree in my yard when I was a girl. It must’ve been 45 feet high. When it came down in a storm, the guys who cut up the wood almost didn’t believe us that it was an apple tree. The surfeit of blossoms were to die for in the spring, but it only ever had inedible woody buggy apples. I’ve been yearning for a gorgeous apple tree ever since.

    • Karen says:

      Well. Get yourself one! ~ karen

      • Meg says:

        Oh yes! As soon as I have a yard to stick it in! I’ll have my container plants til then. :) *…goes to research if you can keep apple trees in a bucket*

      • Meg says:

        *update* I’m VERY SILLY. of course there are people that grow apples in containers.

        I mean, I guess I was focused on having one outside. I even have lemon trees indoors so it’s not that I’m not unaccustomed to plants in pots.

        *off to research and go buy a container apple tree or two*

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