Something strange is happening in my back yard. In a summer with droughts that rival the Dust Bowl and a prolonged heat wave harsher than any in recent memory, the apple tree right outside my kitchen door is flourishing like never before. That is to say, it's producing a lot of fruit.

We've only lived here for three summers and this is the first that any apples of note have grown on the tree. And my, how they are growing. They are so abundant that the limbs hang low and i have had to pick some that are not ripe just to lighten the load. What could possibly explain such a crop in a year that most other produce is suffering?

And, any ideas for what to do with a giant (50-gallon) surplus of apples? We've made some applesauce out of these tart green cooking apples, we've given away as many as we can to family and friends and Craigslist strangers, but we are at a loss for how to accommodate their sheer numbers!

Related: Pick Your Own Apples: For Suckers?

(Image: Flickr member ell-r-brown, licensed for use under Creative Commons)