When other folks are planting flower bulbs for spring blooms, the Johnny Appleseeds among us are planting apple trees. A good place to get them is the Peace Garden at Pisgah View Apartments. On Sat., Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to noon, you can dig up and take home an apple tree for $35.
It’s the garden’s “Dig Days,” and partners Bob White and Bill Whipple claim it’s a way to diversify your 401K — not with cash, but with a “yearly dividend of first-class-tasting, healthy [apples that’ll bear fruit for] 125 years.” Do your math, and that amounts to 88,000 pounds of fresh fruit over the years. Further calculate a per-pound price of $2.50 (if you had to buy them in the store), and that’s a return of $220,000 over the course of the tree’s life. And it starts with that $35, a tree and a shovel.
White pioneered the Peace Garden, and Asheville’s modern Johnny Appleseed, T. Bud Barkslip (aka Bill Whipple), convinced him to include an apple nursery. Thanks to White’s green thumb, many of the one-year-old trees are six-feet tall, says Barkslip, and they’re ready for fall planting. The two men have grown quite a few old-timey varieties, such as “Newtown Pippin,” “Buncombe,” “Rambo” and “Detroit Red.”
Barkslip recommends calling or e-mailing him to find out exactly which varieties are available, since the seedlings are being sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. He also notes that you should dig your holes and get your soil amendments ready before picking up your tree — the apple saplings should be planted within 24 hours of pick-up (or heeled into the soil if you’re not quite ready to plant).
To further sweeten the pie, if you promise to plant a tree at a school or other public space (with permission, naturally), it’s a buy-one-get-one-free offer on the apple saplings. Buyers can also get a tax deduction for purchasing through the Green Works Asheville/Quality Forward/Barkslip’s Fruit School.
You can reach Barkslip via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone, 713-2424. To view the trees ahead of Dig Day, call Bob White at 989-0893 for an appointment. Either contact can provide payment information and directions to the Peace Garden.
— Margaret Williams, contributing editor