Picking Apples

Back in 2011-12 we planted our orchard. They came as one year old maiden whips and though we lost the Damson Merryweather and Greengage to bad weather, we added other trees to replace them and now six years later the trees after careful winter pruning are giving us our first big harvest. In the photo below we are tackling the heavy crop on the Keswick Codling, an early cooking apple that can be harvested from late August onwards. The trick to knowing whether your apples are ready is to take them gently in your hand and as you life them up from their resting place against the branch they should come away easily. If they don't leave them or else you will pull off the fruiting spur which is next years apple!

Picking Apples

Apple pickers

This was the case with the apple, Flower of the Town a few weeks back, I tried to take one off in my excitement and it came away with the spur. This can lead to infections such as apple canker. Bad me. I decided to eat it; it was very tart but today, less than a month later, it is full of sweetness and D clutches one as he harvests away, munching on it and offering it up one to a neighbour's child who looks at it as if there is something wrong with not getting it in a plastic bag. The Keswick Codling has it's fair share of earwigs, and it's a good thing we're harvesting them today as the little buggers are making in roads on some of them. The Apple Fillingham Pippin gives us a lovely basket of eaters. The Plum Belle du Louvain has still not fruited but we hope, and we wait. We had a Greengage at Drovers that did nothing for seven years and then wham! The biggest crop of we've ever had. Harvesting allows you to take stock of an orchard, we will move the Fillingham this winter to the same side as the other trees and away from a vigourous hawthorn hedge. This leaves an opportunity to life all the turf here and replace with wild flowers. The Apples Hunt House and James Grieve will be potted up because they never seem to do anything, and they've had seven years. If they don't do anything in pots they will go to friends lower down in the valley. Some apples just can't handle our garden and the altitude. Nothing goes to waste in our garden if we can help it, even the windfalls are scooped up for pies and juicing.


Apples

Windfall apples

We end up with 24kg of apples (just shy of 53lbs), half of them are cookers from the Keswick, another quarter are windfalls for chutneys and pies (they're not for storing, none of the blemished apples are for storing), and the remaining quarter are wonderful eating apples. We move down into the cottage garden where the cordons are, we summer prune these to keep them as cordons and fans (though the fans have lapsed and we now have to make a careful decision to prune hard in late winter or let them grow into standards). In the cordons we have mainly pippins that are tasty and long storing. We will give some of the cookers to neighbours and family but the rest will be stored and eaten.

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