Welcome to the Jungle
Dubber Hanson says he makes a great deep-dish apple pie.
He said the secret is plenty of cinnamon. But maybe it’s the fresh fruit from three apple trees in the backyard of his Highland Green home.
“This is what got me hooked,” said Hanson, 67, before he plucked off one of the tree’s pale green, medium-sized apples and took a bite.
“Just two more days,” he said. That’s when it will be harvest time, judging by the sweetness of the apple in his hand.
The tree came with the house when Hanson bought it 10 years ago. He didn’t know it was an apple tree. When it blossomed in the spring, he expected crab apples.
One year, he had to use two-by-fours to prop up its branches that were laden with apples.
“There were a thousand apples on it. No exaggeration at all.”
Now Hanson has three apple trees in his north-facing backyard. They include a MacIntosh and a Norland. He also has two cherry trees, a plum tree, a pear tree and an apricot tree.
“Everyone used to call it the orchard. Now they call it the jungle,” the urban fruit grower said on Thursday.
A few apples are scattered on the ground under his Norland tree. The apples came early this year.
“We’ve got fruit dropping. You’ve got to watch them like a hawk.”
Only one apricot remains dangling after a bumper crop.
His family used to call it “dad’s apricot stick” because it was so spindly and didn’t produce much.
“Three months ago we were out here and I said, ‘Come fall, I’m just going to saw it down. Cut it up for firewood.’
“I think that tree can understand English. It went to work,” Hanson said with a laugh.
The small pear tree in the backyard won’t have much fruit this year. But one of two trees in front of his house has about 100 pears ripening.
“The pears are small. You just pull off the stem and eat the whole thing. The core is so tender. They are absolutely delicious.”
He can’t understand why people would plant anything but fruit trees.
He said summers without fruit on his trees are the worst. A late frost can kill blooms. Hail can also knock fruit around, marring its skin, even though it still tastes good.
“You never know what to expect. The fruit this year is a lot smaller, but I’ve never seen it ripen so fast.”
The plum tree in his backyard didn’t produce this year. Harvests can be unpredictable, he said.
“All of sudden — wham — you’ve got fruit just dripping off.”
Hanson said he’d like to see more people grow fruit in Red Deer. They could learn from each other and have someone to turn to when they encounter problems.
“We need to have some dialogue around this town.”
Maybe someone has experience with kiwi. Hanson has been waiting three years for the vine in his front yard to blossom.
“I haven’t got anything. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get kiwi fruit.”