Fruit tree update

Baby plums and apples are now forming on the trees in the orchard. The older Victoriaplum in particular has quite a few;

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Victorias do tend to overbear, and if we left all these on they would press together and rot before they got ripe. In the extreme the weight of fruit can break branches off. So I’ve reduced this bunch to just one fruit.

On the Marjories Gage, nature is doing its own thining:

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The undeveloped plums will fall off in the ‘June drop’

Meanwhile, one of the apples has some unwelcome visitors:

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These curled up leaves are hiding aphids. They could be squashed or washed off with soapy water, but its probably best to leave them to encourage their natural preditors

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Big Dig 2016

Despite the changeable weather, fifteen of us were at the garden this afternoon for this year’s Big Dig.

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We managed the first four of the seven tasks on the notice board, but also had time to sit round the fire and chat

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I was asked for the recipe for the oat and blackberry flapjacks I brought. Its based on one on the Carnation website, but omits the extra sugar – its sweet enough!

Ingredients:

350 g softened butter or similar (I used Yeo Valley spreadable)
350 g condensed milk (this stuff is 50% sugar)
300 g porridge oats
200 g wholemeal self-raising flour
100 g blackberries (I used ones picked at the garden last autumn & frozen. You can substitute other berries, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, or whatever comes to hand)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180deg
  2. Cream the butter and condensed milk together (tip: weigh the condensed milk into the bowl)
  3. Mix in the other ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Using two spoons, scoop 4cm diameter blobs of the mixture onto a baking tray, keeping well separated. You should get about two dozen.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until they’re begining to brown. They will have spread into each other.
  6. Allow to cool on the tray and firm up before removing with a palette knife.

 

 

 

Moving Arthur

We’d become a bit concerned that the trees in the orchard area might be overcrowded when they matured, and decided to move one into the main garden. Our choice fell on ‘Arthur Turner’ a cooking variety that was in the middle of a row of four. (Apparently it won an RHS prize for its blossom)  The trees have now been in place for three years, so its more of a disturbance for them than when we originally planted them, but they should still re-establish. This weekend was almost the last time we could do this while the trees were dormant.

Here’s Arthur before the move:

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First we prepared the hole for Arthur’s new home, digging out an area with roughly the diameter of the branch-spread down to two spade depths and adding four wheelbarrowloads of compost to enrich the soil.

Next we removed the turf around the tree, and dug a trench down, carefully digging in until we came to the roots. We dug down and under, to free it, and rocked it onto a tarpauline. We then dragged it to the new planting position.

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We replanted Arthur, taking care to plant to the same depth that it had been before, and then backfilled the hole, treading it down well to exclude any air pockets. Finally we put in a new stake, to keep the roots still while they reestablish, and backfilled the hole where it had been. Now to wait with fingers crossed!

Wassailing

More than forty people joined us for our third annual wassailing in the orchard area, with Sue’s apple cake, some cider made from fruit from the tree on the allotment boundary with Waterworks Road and other refreshments ably overseen by Amanda

The Petersfield Community Choir joined us again to sing a number of traditional wassailing songs.

Emily and Keith then gave a practical demonstration of pruning our apple trees, cutting out damaged wood and crossing branches, and trying to encourage an ideal goblet shape.

So here’s to our next growing season.

November garden

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With the onset of winter, things are dying down, though seed heads still give interest. However, there are winter crops, like these leeks planted earlier

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Path laying

We’re continuing to lay the plastic matting that will form the foundation of a wheelchair accessible path in the garden.

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The idea is that grass grows up through the matting to provide a green path with a firm foundation. Bruce, Lynn & Christoph were busy fitting further sections this afternoon

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Brownies

Brownies roasting sweet corn
Brownies roasting sweet corn

Sheet Brownies have visited us again. On Tuesday 29 September they harvested some of the sweetcorn they planted earlier this year, and roasted the cobs over a fire in the fire pit. They’re planning some other visits, including some star gazing later in the year when its clear