Tag Archive | harvest

Apples

I have probably just done one of my least favourite gardening jobs. It feels kind of criminal to be taking off apples when they seem healthy, but this is a good time of year to thin apples out so that the tree can concentrate on growing really good ones and not be over burdened with undersized fruit that we wouldn’t want to eat anyway. 

Thinning out ensures only healthy fruit stays on the tree and has lots of room to grow. It’s an easy task, even if it does sometimes mean sacrificing a few for the good of the many.

Start with those that are obviously damaged or diseased, and then those that are still very small. Next thin each spur down to ideally one apple, or maybe two if they’re on opposite sides.

As one would when harvesting, gently squeeze and twist the individual fruit, so as not to disturb the others. Sometimes they make the decision for you and fall off anyway.

So despite my ‘waste not want not’ view of gardening, I think I have helped the crop along nicely. And I have some lovely additions to the compost pile!

Next was a bit of light summer pruning, with the help of the BBC Gardeners World blog. This popped up on my news feed this morning, so my plan to tackle the trees today seemed even more serendipitous. 

http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-prune-apple-trees/

Slightly more of a technical challenge, but well worth doing as it helps to let in lots of sunlight and fresh air to the middle of the tree to prevent disease and help fruit to ripen up.

So a productive morning.  Luckily I had some nice company too.

Planting a Foraging Hedgerow

It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, and it probably comes from my early family life of making the most of what we had, waste not want not etc. Food for free (or a little effort) has got to be a good thing, and although I could never live totally off grid or try to be completely self sufficient (travel, tv, wifi etc you get the picture) I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of harvesting and making food from whatever I can find growing wild.

As much as the hedges around us already have a lot of what I like to use, I feel we are competing a bit with the birds, who often grab the elderberries before I can get them, and the farmer who is fastidious in his hedge trimming, much to the detriment of the blackthorn, blackberries and hazels nearby.

I also like the idea of having everything in one space, not being lazy, just practical. Anyway, we have a fence that needs replacing with rabbit wire and a hedge there would also help break the wind a bit and add to the veg patch we are slowly developing. Perfect solution.

I’ve read a bit, researched a bit, spoken to the garden centre owner and am also plumping for a good dose of suck it and see beginners luck. This garden and house are our forever home and therefore a long term project. I think I am going to learn more from the mistakes I make as much as the books I read. As long as there aren’t too many and it doesn’t put me off!

Anyway, this is the week it is going to happen. I have some spare cash (before the Christmas spending begins) and a gardener lined up to help dig the holes!

So my wish list is:

Black elder – more interesting than the usual elders and we already have a few of them around. (for Elderflower and berries)

Blackthorn (sloes)

Crab apple – edible obvs for jelly

Damson – to replace the one we had to take down

Hazel – for the cobnuts and hazels

Plum – why not?!

Quince – jelly and jam

I have a couple of dog roses already for hips, but in theory any rose hip can be used for syrups etc.

We also have a blackberry, which produces the most amazing plump fruit, and is already holding a corner position at one end of the planned hedge, so I am cultivating that.

The lovely people at Wiggly Wigglers in Herefordshire were really helpful with some great advice. After I made a quick email enquiry I had a call back from them within the hour and some very good tips. Followed up by an email with the planting guides they send out with their Edible Hedge Pack. A great help.

So we’ll see how they get on… updates to follow.