Category Archives: peach

summer’s last hurrah…

We picked the peaches today.

We grow one peach tree, (Peregrine), and like the apricot it does produce a reasonable crop.  Both are planted at the back of the Dutch Barn under a cover which helps to reduce peach leaf curl.

As the trees have grown somewhat since planting, the canopy needed to be raised.  Luckily one of our nephews was visiting and was swiftly roped in to construct the new cover.  After a few days shimmying up the ladder/angle grinding/sawing/drilling and relocating one, (possibly more), false widow spider, the new canopy was done.

I’ll need to revisit the form of the trees over the next week to ensure they are as flat to the Dutch Barn as possible.

From the bowl of peaches, I set aside enough to make a trial batch of jam and the rest we cut into segments and filled a shelf in the dehydrator.

I turned the heater on and in no time the utility room was filled with the scent of ripe peaches which was a rather lovely final wave to the summer.



a bit of the exotic…

Jam is so easy to make and we grow so much fruit that it is no surprise that we haven’t bought any for quite a number of years.  Though, over time, we have learnt which crops we want to devote effort to making a preserve from.

Strawberry – yes; Raspberry – yes, Gooseberry – no.  However top of the list maybe, just maybe, is Apricot.  This year, back in spring, we had all the indication of a good crop….

unfortunately, we have taken a hit from ‘brown rot’, a fungal disease caused by the pathogens, Monilinia laxa and Monilinia fructigena.

Our apricot tree is undercover so I suspect the spores were carried to the flowers by wind.  The first notable sign of the infection has been on the mature fruits.  Even so, as we are making jam we just cut out any dodgy bits.

We planted the apricot is at the back of the Dutch barn to give it maximum heat.  As the barn borders the old orchard, there will always be a bit of a risk from brown rot because we have a number of ancient top fruit standards, including plums.  I don’t clear fallen fruit as avidly from the old orchard as I do from the new plantings – perhaps I need to revisit this as we don’t seem to be visited anymore by the badgers.  They used to hoover up a lot of windfalls.

The peaches, however are completely untouched!




may flies…

May has ended.  It was a month of lots of lovely summery weather and enough rain so as not to feel the pressure of watering the vegetable patches.   From now on we will have plenty of produce gluts from the garden.

We have been picking salads and herbs from the polytunnel since the end of April. I’ll add peppery nastursium leaves and turnip thinnings to tonight’s salad bowl.

Along with succession sowing and planting out, I have been pinching out the side shoots on the cordon tomatoes and removing the lower leaves up to the first truss.

In the heat of the polytunnel, scent volatiles fill the air.  I only discovered this year what a lovely perfume broad bean flowers have.  Having moved the plantings to the far end of the tunnel I was concerned that the bees wouldn’t find the plants.  I shouldn’t have worried.  The pollinators have been hard at work alongside me.  I’m always amazed to see the formation of the pods on the broadbeans.  These tiny beans along with the season first garden peas will be added to a spring risotto – tonight’s supper.

Working in the tunnel is a delight.  I often run my hands through the herbs for a free aromatherapy session – variations on dill, rosemary, thyme and sage. The sweet basil is starting to come through and I have been pinching out the tops of the pot sown Basil ‘Aristotle’ to garnish the risotto.

I have been thinning the peaches and apricots and the gooseberries are fattening.  We already need to think about preserving the abundance – kept in oil, artichoke hearts make a lovely antipasti…

and I shall gather some heads of the elderflower to make a cordial.

Summer is here.


a stitch in time…

saves nine.  So the saying goes.  I used to hear this, mostly when the hem of my school skirt was adrift, (though I usually thought ‘that’s what sellotape is for’).  Why the saying?  We had heavy frosts in the middle of April. Though I fleeced newly planted peas we didn’t have enough fabric to cover all the crops and I’ve noticed that some of the strawberry plants are showing symptons of ‘black eye’.

This has been caused by the frost.  I’ve been picking off the flowers as these won’t develop fruit.  We’ll need to see if there has been any other effects once the strawberries start to develop.   The kiwi also took a hit, certainly on the leaves.

The flowers might not be affected as they were in bud and until the cultivar ‘Jenny’ starts flowering we won’t get fruit from the kiwis anyway.

The apples were starting in flower when the frosts came; I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed for them.  Elsewhere it all looks pretty good.

I will have to start on the thinning soon.



hashtag apricot blossom…

I’m trying to get to grips with apps.  I’d like to be able to take a photo and post to Instagram.  I love the spontaneity of that. I sometimes type in a hashtag to see the reams of photos on a subject – like apricot blossom.  I feel a connection with all those snappers in all those far flung places.

I haven’t figured out how to post to instagram without a fancy phone but here is my hashtag apricot blossom; peach blossom and almond blossom…

I better get out the little paint brush and do some cross pollinating.

Gardeners World is back on the beeb; what a lovely interview with Beth Chatto, (#heroine).

a perfect peach….

Just the one Peregrine peach left on the tree.  At some point, there may have been more but I haven’t been out in the old orchard for a while.

peachSo to celebrate our entire 2016 crop we kept it simple….

peach brk2marrying the sweetness of the white peach and a few of our Victoria plums with salty Parma ham and feta.  Freshly ground coffee completes a very special breakfast.

Reading this week: Beechcombings – The narratives of trees by Richard Mabey


fruit salad…..

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.

DSC_0214currantredWe are starting to pick plums and greengages.

DSC_0639Waiting in the wings are fruits that need a little longer to ripen – melons; peaches and apricots.

DSC_0656DSC_0679DSC_0677Autumnal fruit will end the growing year with a flourish – cultivated blackberries; late raspberries; apples; pears; medlars and quinces.

DSC_0650Fruit 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.

DSC_0682Reading this week: Woodlands by Oliver Rackham