Tag Archives: apple

The Promise of Future Fruit

Here are some pictures of the fruit trees from last week. The Magpies seem quite keen on the big yellow cherries, which are ripe despite being yellow. We are going to have to research the variety. The smaller, more prolific yellow cherries are not yet edible. Even the Magpie, which is happy to eat a dead badger from the gutter, won’t eat them.

The strawberries are doing well, and this particular punnet was going to the school caretaker, on the grounds that cooperation is a good thing. They are one of the few things Julia is able to sell from the site, and they will be paying for some of the materials needed for shed repairs before winter kicks in.

There is a good selection of apples, pears and plums around the garden, though Julia has given me (in my capacity as a non-volunteer) responsibility for drawing up a pruning plan for the winter. They are generally in good order but a few are growing water shoots, and most are congested. It’s easily done, as people tend to concentrate on pruning for fruit and neglect to open up the centres of the trees.

There are also several apple trees that were obviously pruned as step-overs but have grown into hedges over the years. Being the owner of a plum tree that started life as a minarette I know all about this sort of thing, and have no moral high ground to take.

There are vines and figs in the polytunnel, a hazel with nuts and, in one corner of the garden,  we havea group of Nottingham medlars. They are a “traditional” tree which means they have no practical use  these days and are grown as a curiosity.  At one time they were handy for late crops but we have imports and chillers to fill thst gap these days. You have to blet the fruit before eating, which means letting it ripen to within moments of it rotting. They dress it up in most articles on medlars, but that is what it means in practical terms.

It will be interesting to see how they go, and to try some recipes with them.

Plans include raspberries and gooseberries, because we can get free cuttings, and finding what is known as “the special plum tree”. I think we’ve probably found it, but we just don’t know it’s special yet. We also need Cape Gooseberries, because we’ve always done well with them and visitors like to try them.

Compared to the farm garden, which was lumpy clay and rubble when we got there, this is luxury.

You also have the bonus that people don’t steal your fruit when you aren’t there.

Piccalilli, preserves and plum jam

Phew, just managed the three P’s. Was just bemoaning the fact that we hadn’t done any pickles when I realised we did have preserves. I say “we” but I gave it a wide berth and spent most of my day pressing apples and tarting up a grant application (yes, the same one we’ve been doing for the last two months – it just came back with lots of nit-picking queries and suggestions). If you want the money, you do the work.

Anyway, it was preferable to working in a kitchen with two women in full preserving mode. Jam making does not bring out the best in my beloved, and as she was trying a new recipe I thought it was a good idea to stay out of the way.

The picture shows Julia and Angela with an array of jars – piccalilli, plum jam, apple and mint jelly, apple chutney and blackberry jam. There are also jelly bags of hedgerow fruits (blackberry, elderberry, crab apple and hawthorn) draining out of shot. They, I’m told, are my project. We could have used sloes and rose hips too but ran out of time to pick more.

We don’t use rowan, despite having them in good numbers, because they are rather sharp. Sometimes we make rowan jelly (a traditional tracklement to accompany game) but there isn’t a great demand for it so we don’t bother these days. Rowan berries host the largest number of insects I’ve ever seen in hedgerow fruit – mainly earwigs and long-legged spiders.

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Angela and Julia with a selection of produce

Just looked up tracklement, as it’s an unusual word and I wanted to be certain I was using it correctly, and find that it’s a word only from the 1950s, albeit based on older words. I first came across it in the 1970s in a translation of Flaubert’s “Saint Julian the Hospitalier”.

It’s strange how things can trigger memories. I’ve seen the word tracklement since then, but I don’t think I’ve ever used it. The first time I do, over 40 years since I learned it, I’m transported back to a story I haven’t thought of in all that time.

The magic of the internet is such that I was able to put Flaubert, mediaeval and hunting into Google and it brought the correct story up.

I’ve also been able to order a copy.