Apple harvest

Today an event took place that I’ve been waiting for since the autumn of 2010. We’d been to an open day at our local organic farm, where I was introduced to R V Rogers nursery near York, which happened to have it’s Apple Weekend soon afterwards.  

The stalls in the barn they opened for the occasion were full of apples, the like of which I’d never seen before. It is in the days before I had my blog, so there are no pictures to show you the glory of so much fruit. Needless to say, however, I tried many varieties of apple and decided upon Orleans Reinette for my first tree.

It being an unusually hard winter, the nursery did ask if I would prefer the tree to be delivered in the spring but I decided to have it before Christmas anyway. Instinct told me that I needed to put in the ground, even if not planted – I had no idea this was a method called heeling in. And it survived to be planted in the spring of 2011.

I understood that I would have fruit after four years. I actually got one massive apple in its third year. Then production took a nose dive. Until last year, when I got a total of eleven apples.

This year, we have been eating windfalls since the middle of August (so probably somewhere in the region of 20 have been consumed already). But today I felt was the right time to pick the remainder off the tree – I even managed to get my daughter outside to take part.

There were 26 apples left on the tree, which for me is quite overwhelming. Insects had had a go at most of them and I would like to work out if there is anything I can do about this. However, we are still going to get many an apple crumble out of them!

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So much red in September

At last, the wadding has found a new home (cf. Waiting for a Freegler, which I posted last week), so that has been one achievement for the day. The other is actually more an achievement for the month.

Normally, whether the crop is small or large, it is usually green in September. It’s usually green in October as well.

On the plus side, that does mean I have tomatoes up until Christmas but, to be honest, they don’t taste that great by mid-winter. On the other hand, fresh out of the garden like the ones above, they are the reason we grow our own!

The plants have all but toppled to the ground. Because of wood in the hugel beds or just rock solid soil, it has been hard to push the stakes into the ground, so it may not be long before it is green tomatoes I am harvesting. Still, I have found that if the tomato is half-rip, indoors it is fully ripe within a day. And it still tastes good at the moment.

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The great nutrient collapse

For a couple of years now, I’ve been getting a daily email from a company called Pocket with news articles from around the world. Or rather news which might be other than political and may not be mainstream views.

Thus, today I’ve been reading about how carbon dioxide might be altering the quality of our food. In short, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere might be increasing the amount of carbohydrate in plants whilst simultaneously lowering levels of vital minerals such as zinc. There might also be less protein in wheat, rice and potatoes in comparison with, say, fifty years ago.

For the full article, click on the link.

Aerial shot of garden 15 September 2017

My parcel of land is too small to have any impact on climate – it doesn’t even get close to offsetting my carbon usage. I can only hope that what I do might have a ripple effect.

In fact, I think it does, in small ways, as I see my neighbours dig up bits of their lawn to plant something else. I’m not sure how much extra carbon this will absorb but at least there will be a bit of biodiversity and something more interesting for predators and prey, pollinators and such like.

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Waiting for a Freegler

A couple of years ago, I broke down our sofa (donated by a neighbour) to make way for a piano. I tried to salvage as much as I could for repurposing, including the wadding, which I imagined using for cushions.

As you do, it went in the loft for safe keeping and has stayed there ever since. Someone who knew someone I know did offer to relieve me of it but that never finally happened. And latterly I’ve been advertising it on Freegle with the upshot that today I honestly thought it was going to be picked up.

Oh well, maybe something went wrong with the emails. And the thought that someone might come to the front door and see camping gear all over the house was enough to get me to tidy it away (due to the inclement weather, I’d been drying the tent indoors). Which was when I realised we had brought a wasp, unfortunately now dead, home with us from the Midlands on Sunday.

On a happier note, the above photo also shows my first conjoined tomatoes. An interesting phenomenon – definitely from one zygote. I wonder how that happens in the world of botany?

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Heuchera gone

I felt quite sad when I looked at the heuchera in the compost bin this afternoon. It’s a healthy plant and would have kept on growing to fill the whole of the front garden, if I’d let it.

I’d originally bought it because it is evergreen and thus would have given me colour in the winter, when there’s not much else going on. That it did, after a fashion. It also looked straggly and unkempt in the winter.

So, the plan is to replace the heuchera with pulmonaria (lungwort), which self-seeded in the back garden. Whether I now keep some in the forest garden or not, I haven’t quite decided. 

It’s apparently edible with some medicinal uses, so it would be suitable on those grounds. For me, though, it’s a pleasure to have something green and with flowers – again at a time of year when the garden is otherwise looking quite barren. Only, I actually like the look of pulmonaria (and my neighbour has commented she does, too).

Anyway, I have until Wednesday to decide. That’s when I plan the next step to happen.

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Positive vibrations

This weekend has been a bit different from usual. We went to our first ever festival, although it wasn’t the music kind. The theme was sustainability and was designed to be suitable for families.

For anyone who wants to know more generally about Positive Vibrations, follow this link. The main thing for me to say here is that we had a great time and have learned a lot.

I’m really pleased that my daughter absorbed some of the information from the foraging workshop we did first thing on Saturday morning. Perhaps one day this will keep her alive, although I am hopeful that energy descent isn’t going to be the catastrophe some predict.

Nevertheless, foraging does give us food which we don’t have to pay for, which might also be more nutritious than even the fruit and veg I grow in my own garden. I say ‘might’ because I don’t know if this is an urban myth or knowledge borne of unbiased research. In any case, I now know more than I did two days ago.

Firstly, I might now not only be able to indentify a lime tree in the future

but should I come across one I might try some of its young leaves.

Secondly, I’ve learned the name of a wildflower which I have in the garden. Willowherb is apparently edible, but I’m not actually sure I want it to proliferate, going on what Gardeners’ World says about it (click on ‘Willowherb’ above for further information). So, until the day I start eating it, it will continue to come out.

Thirdly, I also learned what plantain looks like

and after putting the name in a search engine I realise I have some in my garden, although it is the broader leafed variety.

Again, I do not know when or if I will use plantain. On the other hand, I will probably try out the lip balm, ointment for muscle pain and cough medicine I learned to make later in the day. I even got to take home some of the first two.

I might also try my hand at making the following device, which a fellow festival goer brought along for use over a camp fire. Any idea what is in this?

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Two for the price of one

Over the past few days, I’ve been monitoring the female butternut squash flower which had finally appeared on the vine. I was hopeful it had been fertilised and as it is still there, I assume it has.

However, behind the Jerusalem artichokes I then noticed another fruit. This was just now, so I’ve no idea if it has been there longer than the one pictured above.

Needless to say, I am thrilled, though also curious as to why they have different shapes. Different varieties, I suppose. Or it is a mystery like the one over at Gardening Nirvana perhaps?

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