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Harvest time?

Posted by Rob on 21st August 2015 in Other Stuff |

We’ve had a bit of an odd spell with plants this year. Some started out dying, others thrived. And recently, we had a sudden rush to try and buy the right soil, after we found that the wrong soil had started killing some of our hibiscus (and now they’re doing well, including the one that lost all its leaves and looked for all the world like it had been beyond saving).

And the other thing was our apple trees in the back. I’ve been knocking spikes into the ground, trying to straighten one of them with a ratchet strap, and generally taking care of them. And this year, they actually began to grow apples! A good thing, I thought, but when we tried one after the birds started taking a little interest, they were still a little too tough to pick (and too tart for my wife’s taste, though personally I like ’em either way). So, we left them to grow a little longer.

Apple_Tree
The healthier of the apple trees in mid-June, showing early fruit.

In hindsight, this may have been an error, as it turns out that birds are NOT so particular about apples. Yesterday, my wife saw a Steller’s Jay sitting in the tree opposite with one of the apples in its claw, pecking away at it, and so I decided I’d have to harvest what apples were remaining.

And that amounted to — wait for it — three whole apples.

They weren’t quite as tough as the first time, but they were still tart. I think they might’ve made for good cooking apples, or possibly been something that Mum might’ve liked to eat, except that there weren’t nearly enough of ’em. The largest was probably about an inch and a half wide, the smallest closer to an inch, but if I’d left them any longer they’d all have been bird food. So, I nibbled one, and took the other two round to our neighbours to share — not many, I admit, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

4 Comments

  • The Ould Git says:

    The thought, indeed, is what counts. Hope your neighbours appreciated them!
    Size-wise, if those apples hadn’t been so nice and red, I’d have said they were like the crab apples we used to nick from the vicar’s garden round the corner to where I used to live, hard and very tart.
    My Mum used to make jelly out of them.
    For years, I thought we’d been very brave, sneaking in and quietly nicking a bagfull every so often with my friends (we were 7 or 8 years old, I guess), but it turns out, according to a nostalgic chat I had one day with Canon Kent who used to come to St Stephen’s, that his old friend the vicar used to enjoy watching us in our exploits – he never used the apples himself anyhow.
    In restrospect, I think my Mum probably only made the jelly to humour me … she could make really nice jam in huge quantities when we’d been blackberrying, but I only recall maybe a cupful at a time of the crab-apple jelly.
    Sounds like you’ve had about the same level of success with apples as we had trying to grow tomatoes in Lydia street.
    People use a light net over apple trees to protect from birdies, and bend the fruit-bearing branches, apparently, to increase the yield, somehow … but size-wise, I don’t know if any process will help the fruits.
    I’m sure next year’s crop will be better, as the tree gets used to where it is!

    • Rob says:

      The apples were a mix of hue, partly that purple-red, and partly apple green, though some were almost completely green. Your description of the crab apples sounds about right, though — in taste and texture, they reminded me of a cross between Granny Smiths and the sweet pea pods that they used to sell out of the vegetable van in town.

      I originally had designs on making an apple pie of some sort, but given the amount of apple I had, it’d have been a stretch to make one the size of a Christmas mince pie…

  • Marion Ashcroft says:

    The one thing you’ll need to do Rob is net the tree as soon as apples start to appear. I hope the tree isn’t too tall. Many fruit growers use cages. The apples do best left on tree as long as possible to ripen, hence the need to defeat the sweet little birdies!

  • Cloth Ears says:

    You’re doing better than me. Once again, I have succeeded in killing almost everything in the house. One sad plant remains on the front window – and Tinker knocked that down the other day. And, of course, we have nearly finished deliberately getting ro=id of nearly everything in both gardens. Planning to start again. The front will – I hope – be mostly gravel. ( hoped for pebbles, but they are far too expensive) A couple of rocks and bits of wood, and a border at the back. Haven’t decided at all what to do at the back. Just that it has to be easier to keep under control. I do have a bunch of wild flower seeds that need planting in Autumn. Maybe we can do grass and wild flowers.

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