Granny Smith apples and the magic of com­post

The Standard (Elliot Lake) - - ENVIRONMENT - By LARRAINE ROULSTON For The Stan­dard

With au­tumn in the air, apples be­come abun­dant - a great time to sup­port on­tario’s fresh pro­duce. The ori­gin of ap­ple brand names of­ten can be in­trigu­ing. For in­stance, if you thought that ‘Granny Smith ap­ple’ was a name fab­ri­cated for mar­ket­ing pur­poses, you’d be in­ter­ested to learn that it was named af­ter a real Granny Smith.

born into a farm­ing fam­ily in Eng­land in 1799, maria ann Sher­wood be­came in­ter­ested in agri­cul­ture. at age 19 she mar­ried thomas Smith who also laboured on farms. to­gether, they raised a fam­ily in beck­ley. in 1838, those with agri­cul­tural back­grounds were re­cruited to aus­tralia to work the farms and teach their skills. as maria ann par­tic­u­larly en­joyed rais­ing seedling ap­ple trees, the cou­ple even­tu­ally pur­chased their own land to start an ap­ple or­chard. it wasn’t un­til 1868, when maria ann was 69 years old, that she dis­cov­ered a new seedling bear­ing green-coloured apples where she had tossed French crab ap­ple peel­ings.

her story is an amaz­ing tes­ti­mony to the magic of com­post. When maria ann ‘Granny’ Smith cooked French crab apples, she would dis­card the cores into her com­post pile be­hind her farm­house. it was there that she dis­cov­ered a seedling un­like any other. Smith, de­lighted with this new green ap­ple’s tart flavour and ver­sa­til­ity, de­cided to cul­ti­vate the tree her­self. Ed­ward Gal­lard, a lo­cal or­chardist, also de­vel­oped the trees from cut­tings taken from the orig­i­nal tree and con­tin­ued grow­ing Granny Smith apples un­til his death in 1914.

Granny Smith apples be­came pop­u­lar in aus­tralia and new Zealand, and were dis­played in 1891 at agri­cul­tural and hor­ti­cul­tural shows where ‘Smith’s seedling’ won the prize for the best cook­ing ap­ple. af­ter be­ing added to the list of fruits suit­able for ex­port, they were in­tro­duced to Great bri­tain in 1935 and the u.s. in 1972. Sadly, Granny Smith passed away in 1870 be­fore see­ing her apples gain com­mer­cial recog­ni­tion.

Granny Smith ap­ple facts:

- Granny Smith apples con­tain a higher con­cen­tra­tion of an­tiox­i­dants than most other ap­ple brands. they also have 20% of the rec­om­mended daily vi­ta­min C dosage, and high lev­els of vi­ta­min a.

- due to a high acid­ity level when cooked, Granny Smith apples hold their shape bet­ter than most other apples.

- once cut open, they tend to re­tain their white colour longer.

- un­der ideal con­di­tions and care, Granny Smith ap­ple trees can live for more than 50 years. they are also one of the fastest grow­ing ap­ple trees.

- Their ideal stor­age con­di­tion is a cold re­frig­er­a­tor.

- Edna Spur­way, Granny Smith’s great-grand­daugh­ter, sur­vived to be 101. She at­tributed her health to eat­ing lots of apples.

- Ev­ery year in ryde, new South Wales, a Granny Smith Fes­ti­val cel­e­brates maria ann Smith’s life and legacy.

With a com­post heap in your back­yard, you too have the op­por­tu­nity to watch seedlings sprout. Com­post feeds the ben­e­fi­cial soil mi­crobes, which de­com­pose or­ganic ma­te­ri­als such as ap­ple peel­ings and dry leaves. rich soil will help your plants thrive. per­haps one day a seedling of yours will be­come the ‘core’ of a suc­cess­ful and world­wide ‘apeel­ing’ new food.

larraine writes chil­dren’s ad­ven­ture books on com­post­ing and pol­li­nat­ing. Visit, www. castle­com­ .


Granny Smith apples first grew out of a com­post pile. They made great ap­ple pies.

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