Ancient apples

These are just a few of the many wonderful apples we have in this country that are sadly often overlooked by the big supermarket chains in favour of a Golden Delicious flown halfway across the globe (before anyone points it out, I'm aware you can get the good ol' Bramley cooking apple, far left, in lots of places but we had 10 others on our market stall for the Apple Day this morning that you wouldn't!)

The large, shiny James Grieve apples are grown on our allotment and their size shows how much they've benefited from being planted next to the hot bed of manure; the other apples were kindly donated by Houghall College in Durham from their diverse collection of native trees. These included Catshead, a strangely square apple which originated in the 1600s and the sharp, small Golden Harvey cider apples which were popular in the Victorian era.

Why not make a pledge to check where your apples come from and try to support native apples wherever you live so we can help preserve our ancient orchards? Also, if you have room to plant just one tree in your garden, make it a native apple: beautiful blossom, lovely trees and fruit to boot - what more could you want? We have one in our own garden - in addition to the 10 different varieties in the orchard/allotment - an old Cumbrian variety which fruited for the first time this year with delicious results.

David has made a bed-within-a-bed for the asparagus (above), so it's easier to keep on top of the weeds and give this crop a heavier feed than the rest of the bed.

Elsewhere, Peter and I managed to sieve some more compost, which was soon used up potting on the cauliflowers in the polytunnel and topping up the new asparagus bed, which also had a generous helping of seaweed thrown in for good measure as the plants love it.

We were able to donate some produce to the primary school's harvest festival this week, including a monster Chicago Warted Hubbard squash to roast for the children's lunch (it weighed in at 2.8kg - our biggest to date).

The wildflower meadow suffered at the hands of some rather over-enthusiastic, if well-meaning, council workers who strimmed the lot and took out all my lavender bushes, the flowers I was waiting to set seed and the thistle which I was planning to leave for the next few months to feed the goldfinches. The reality is they are not supposed to touch that area as it comes under our lease, but a new team and a new manager meant wires got a little crossed but hopefully we've sorted it so it won't happen again.

At this time of year it's not so crucial, just a bit annoying, but if it had been done in midsummer it would have really mucked up our meadow. I think the neighbours would agree that David swinging his scythe a few times a year is a lot more restful on the ears than a team of strimmers every month....
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