We don’t have exactly what you would call an orchard in the market garden. We’ve got one of those already back by the house – twenty-odd trees which are a challenge to keep up with in a half-decent cropping year like this one – sorting, storing, cooking, freezing, pressing, pateurising, ciderising – it takes up days! But we do have apple trees here. Eight, as of this week. Five on M27 rootstock which will grow to about 2metres, and three on M9 rootstock, to about 3metres. The idea is to have a “grazing” corner where we can enjoy fresh apples from the trees when we are working. So the varieties are all dessert apples – early, mid and late season to keep us going for as long as possible – a mixture of new and older varieties – all easy to manage (except the Cox which was a present and the starting point).
For any other apple-obsessives, the varieties are Scrumptious, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Gavin, Red Falstaff, Winter Gem, Christmas Pearmain, Redsleeves and Greensleeves. Our main orchard leans towards heritage, these trees lean towards low maintenance and eatability! Three of the trees have been in a year and we allowed them to carry a tasting sample: the Scrumptious was, well, scrumptious; the Cox was as good as a Cox always is; the three rather large Red Falstaffs are hanging tantalisingly tight – another week or two…
But today. Between the showers. We had a few urgent-feeling jobs to complete – wet or not.
The very last of the potatoes to dig up. How have the “blight-free” Sarpo varieties done? First the Axona; red, big heavy crop and exceptionally clean (mud notwithstanding), no blight damage, no scab (when lots of others have had it in this bed) and next to no slug damage. The grade-out bucket is insignificant and the crop from one row of ten plants is magnificent. Grown from our own saved seeds.
Second the Mira, red, even bigger, but nowhere near so clean. A fair bit of scab, some slug damage, and disappointingly, a few rotten tubers (but Sarpo don’t claim 100% blight resistance). Still, very heavy useable crop. Again from saved seed. And plenty of giant jacket spuds or very lengthy chips to enjoy. We certainly won’t go hungry. And we have already sorted unblemished seed potatoes to treasure for next year.
Autumn planted onion sets to get in and sample rows of two more garlic varieties to plant. The onions were very successful last season; Comred (red!) and Radar (white). We started eating them green in June, lifted, dried and strung up the whole remaining crop in July – and still have a few sound bunches to get through. As for the garlic – Carcassonne Wight and Mikulov from the Garlic Farm – we’ll have to let you know …
Tidying up the greenhouse, watering the polytunnel and nattering over tea/coffee and homemade sticky ginger cake while it showered have kept us busy.
Some leeks need weeding, the brassicas too, the new apple trees need mulching, the dried beans will soon need harvesting, the ex-potato bed now needs clearing of docks and sowing with green manure, the cottage garden needs sorting out (if the triffid nasturtiums don’t get us first!. Gooseberry bushes need pruning, redcurrant cuttings now rooted and growing away need planting out, the “exotic” corner needs clearing of old bonfire debris and digging over ready for bamboo, root crops need harvesting and clamping … etc. etc.
It’s been a quiet day but, weather permitting, we won’t be idle in the weeks to come.
Tuesdays in the Triangle Field (Community Supported Market Garden) are busy, sociable, friendly, relaxed, productive. Volunteers are made welcome, fed, watered and rewarded with produce. Let us know if you would like to join us either regularly, occasionally or just for a one-off pleasure.
Tel. 01743 761418 email: firstname.lastname@example.org