Go Organic: Seasonal treat of autumn applesBy James Ashford
September 21, 2012
I love the autumn. Keats' season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is one of the loveliest seasons in England, especially if you can get out into the rolling countryside around Berkshire.
It’s doubly good because it is also harvest time and, for greedy gardeners like me, there are lots of seasonal treats to scoff.
I’ve just picked the first of my apples and while the yield is down on last year’s bumper haul the quality is outstanding.
Star of the season is my Egremont russet. This tree was a bit of a disaster last year. It produced a lot of growth and leaves but not a great deal of fruit. So last winter I pruned it back hard and this year it has come up trumps.
The apples have been pristine with hardly a mark or blemish.
My other apple trees have been less productive which is a slight worry.
Last year they were superb with a heavy crop which kept us going until Christmas but this year the apples are few and far between.
Apples can become biennial croppers if you’re not careful, producing a bumper harvest one year and nothing the next.
The remedy is to deliberately limit the crop during the good year so that the tree doesn’t exhaust itself. You do this by removing some of the flowers when the tree is in blossom so that it can’t set so much fruit.
The yield will be lower but the tree should do better the following season.
You can tell when apples are ready to pick because they will come away in your hand with a gentle twist.
The russets are not ready to eat just yet so they will have to be carefully stored for a few weeks to mature.
I wrap them individually in newspaper before putting them into cardboard boxes in the garage where they will stay cold, dark and dry.
Any damaged apples should be eaten up sooner rather than later as they won’t keep and may even start to rot the good ones.
Every variety of apple has different keeping qualities and some will keep for longer than others.