Time Lapse

Apple TreeApple Tree Feb 13After many years of benign neglect with intermittent years of savage pruning by people who claimed to know what they were doing, I decided it was high time to give the apple tree in my garden some proper care. But first I needed to identify the variety of apple tree.

Jim Arbury King of ApplesI tracked down fruit specialist, Jim Arbury during the Wisley, RHS Garden annual Apple Fair. Within ten paces of his stall, he’d already named the apple I was holding: King of the Pippins he pronounced. Impressive! I’d taken along photos of the tree which confirmed everything he said about it’s growing habit.

He also told me what I needed to do about some serious pruning but not all at once, it was going to take time.

Apple Tree FruitI love the apples from this tree, as Jim said they are good for eating and cooking. The yield can be prolific on many long thin, upward growing spurs but apparently this is not ideal. Fewer spurs and lower ones at that would mean I get fruit I can reach and even better fruit in time.

 

Pruning Apple TreeI found the right man for the pruning job at the Blackmoor Estate where they’ve been growing fruit trees for almost a century. Peter Barwick is the current Orchard Manager and thankfully freelances his skills out and about when he has the time. With just secateurs, loppers and a saw he finished the job in a couple of hours. Plus I get to keep the wood and clippings for the wood burner I haven’t got yet. With a bit more restorative pruning the following year, it should be in better shape for fruiting.

 

                   I haven’t written a blog post for over a year. I like to think of that time lapse as four seasons gone by which is a reminder of just how long it took nature to produce the contents of my pot of homemade, home grown apple & beetroot chutney, and about as long it took me to write this blog post. But in the case of the chutney, by the date on the label, that was back in 2012, so accounting for maturity that’s eight seasons gone by, or is that false accounting?

 

 

Every Living Thing

In between showers this bank holiday weekend I moved the veg plants into their new homes: the Wall Patch (raised bed), the Salad Basket (trendy hazel wood patio container bought in a sale), overflow of potatoes (Amorosa x 2) tastefully planted in a flower bed alongside the Wall Patch and resembling a burial mound for a departed pet, complete with marker. There is also a Berry Bed (work in progress) for three flavours of currants awaiting a transplant. Note to self: don’t take on too much if as I have discovered you are a fair weather gardener or else put on the wet weather gear and get over it. As for the tomato plants and herbs they are all enjoying more space in the cool cupboard while I come up with an alternative address.

During showers I took to the sofa and carried on reading about a missionary who drags his family off to the African Congo in 1959, intent on taming every living thing:

‘But my father needs permission only from the Saviour who obviously is all in favour of subduing the untamed wilderness for a garden. He beat down a square of tall grass and wild pink flowers . . . and he began to rip out long handfuls of grass in quick energetic jerks as though tearing hair out of the world . . . to hack out a square dominion over the jungle, surely and soon to have tomatoes and beans coming out our ears.’

Well he didn’t get those things coming out of his ears instead it all ended in tears and a lot of things dying.

And I am trying to do the same, without the violence against nature, reading books (not all novels), reading the notes that came with my seedlings and searching the internet. George Monbiot (vegetable evangelist and nuisance to the government) has lots of good advice: keep compost heap hidden at least 10 feet away from your veg or every living thing in the garden will come and help themselves to your food. And why wouldn’t they?

Learning by doing is my preferred method of going about things but a plan is good and taking time to get organised could pay off quicker than jumping in.

So here’s my plan for the Wall Patch and one for the Salad Basket.

 

This is how it looks on the ground and the plan was made after planting (courgettes on the left, broad beans on the right) because that’s the way round I discovered the free trial for planning on the Veg Grow website.

I like the way it provides a space to hold the whole project all together and I can see at a glance order out of chaos, meaning all my scribbled notes and good intentions are now in one place. It’s free for a month and then £15 annual subscription if I decide to go with it.