We harvested our first apples last month and have been harvesting other varieties as they ripen. We still have a few varieties waiting on the treesto be collected. The first harvest was from a tree we have trained over an arch, having bought it as a one year maiden. It is a deep red-blushed beauty called “Scrumptious” which is a rather silly name but I have to admit quite apt. The basket weighed in at 8lb 7oz. – very pleasing!
The other variety that we normally harvest in September is James Grieve, which grows in the company of a clematis over another arch. This tree is a reliable heavy cropper and this year’s crop looked most promising as we waited for it to ripen. We can enjoy the taste of this apple straight from picking and they stay full of flavour for a few months, but it does not store too well.
The harvest did live up to expectations weighing in at 27 lb with a few of the individual fruit being really large as we can see in the picture below of these two sitting on Jude, the Undergardener’s hand.
All the apple, pear and plum trees in our garden were bought as one year maidens and we have trained them into cordons, over arches and as step-overs. Now after ten years it is so rewarding to see them as such productive trees. Of course apple trees are worth growing for their blossom as well, so they are doubly useful to us gardeners.
The apple below is Red Falstaff a variety we have trained as a single-stemmed upright tree. It sits to the left of our greenhouse door, where, coupled with Scrumptious on the right of the door, it gives the impression of being one of a pair of sentinels guarding the doorway. We harvested our Red Falstaff a few days ago and the fruit has developed much deeper red blushed cheeks. In total though the little tree produced only half a dozen pounds of fruit.
The green fruit below is a Bramley apple, the only pure cooker we grow. It is not the best of croppers as we made the mistake of training it as a step-over. Bramley is a tip-bearer so when we carry out the formative pruning necessary with step-overs we are effectively cutting out most of its future fruiting buds. However it does give us a small crop every year, so it has forgiven me my ignorance. We stew this cooking apple and then freeze them to use in pies in the winter and spring. As we do not grow many cooking varieties we tend to use wind falls and any damaged fruit of eaters as cookers or as ingredients in chutneys or mixed with blackberries in jams.
Ashmeads Kernel seen below however is a most successful step-over tree, with a dry textured skin and nutty flavour. This apple is one of the last to be harvested in late October but will not be at its eating best until December through to February, when its flavours will have fully developed.
We grow some heritage varieties which tend to produce fewer fruits but are usually better flavoured, such as Cornish Aromatic, Beauty of Bath, Pixie and King of Pippins.
The photo below shows the unusually shaped, boxy fruit of Cornish Aromatic with its green skin with a few freckles of slightly deeper green.
Any apples whose flavour improves with keeping ,we store in shallow trays with individual fruit wrapped in newspaper to make sure no fruits touch each other. If an apple does go bad when in store then this barrier of newspaper will stop it spreading too quickly.
The act of picking fruit evokes our senses, the touch of the skin as we twist the fruit from the tree, the scent of the fruit in the hand and the subtle variations of reds and greens to delight the eye. And then of course comes the taste, in some cases best straight from the tree in others the tastes matures with age, reaching a peak months after being plucked from the tree. There is also the sensation of the first bite, the crunch, the juice running and the balance of taste between sweet and acidic, and the hints of fruits shared with other fruits, strawberries and pineapples.
Our pear trees were a great disappointment this year. Out of our four cordons only one produced any fruit at all but just look at the size of them!