In the orchards the plum and damson blossom scattered away, superceded by the pear blossom of the trees near the piggery. Now is the turn of the cherries and apples to flower.
Whilst there is good evidence that hand thinning of blossom improves the quality of the apple crop, I can’t bear to do this, so I reduce down the small fruits after the June drop. I would much rather have an orchard full of blossom!
On the subject of lovely things, I bought this pretty auricula for £1.50 at a local plant sale which had been organised to support the continuation of our village library.The local villagers made donations of plants and gardening books; we gave our spare chilli and tomato plants. The sale made a tidy sum for the library fund.
I’m a great fan of going to local plant sales, I think you can find far more interesting specimens than the stuff stocked at the large chain garden centres. Failing that, I like to check out the smaller, independent plant nurseries. Invariably, they are run by passionate horticulturalists.
Back to auriculas. Calke Abbey (NT) has a terrific theatre; I’ve visited the Abbey but never at a time to see these primulas, I must make a diary note for next year.
Photo credit: National Trust
Now, I must find a terracotta pot for my specimen. Could lead to an obsession!
One of the best things about the smallholding in summer and early autumn is the bumper crops of fruit. The harvest started with strawberries, and gooseberries; cherries; currants; blueberries and smatterings of mulberries.
We are starting to pick plums and greengages.
Waiting in the wings are fruits that need a little longer to ripen – melons; peaches and apricots.
Autumnal fruit will end the growing year with a flourish – cultivated blackberries; late raspberries; apples; pears; medlars and quinces.
Fruit is easy to grow and every garden or plot should have some! Possibly the hardest part is making sure the choice harvest is protected from marauders.
Fresh fruit needs little embellishment. Today – grilled apricots with honey and greek yoghurt.
Reading this week: Woodlands by Oliver Rackham
According to DEFRA, 2015 is set to be year of the English cherry, brought about by using new techniques such as growing modern varieties on dwarfing rootstock in polytunnels. Easy to protect from bad weather and birds, yields have increased, from a measly 400 tonnes in 2000, to 3500 tonnes last year. So acres of polytunnels it is if the UK is to stem the flow of imports from Turkey and Spain.
I can’t say that we will be adding hugely to the home produced tonnage although the ‘Lapins’ specimen in the new orchard looks like it could have a good crop this year. ‘Lapins’ is a modern, dark red, sweet cherry, (Stella x Van cross), that was introduced around 30 years ago, and is known for producing decent crops, that is if we can come up with a netted structure to keep the birds away.
As we are not planning on covering the orchard with polytunnels our current thoughts run along the lines of old tennis balls stuck on long bamboo canes with netting tossed over the top…..
Could be a winner!