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Thursday, 22 September 2016

apple days of Autumn

In late August, I thought the apples were ripening later than last year on my allotment.

I was right. According to English Apples and Pears, the fruit growers association, the apple season began on Tuesday, two weeks late.Apparently, it's due to the late flowering  of the apple trees after the cold weather in Spring .

Well,  I kept looking at my apple trees, Three weeks ago, they still weren't ready despite a vivid rosiness on the apples of one tree, but within a few days they started falling..

Of course , the juiciest have stayed at the top of the tree...but that's not a problem now as I have a trusty helper in the form of this apple picker from Burgeon and Ball. I bought it at the end of last Autumn after not being able to reach so many apples.(Other apple pickers are available!)

I've been picking baskets and baskets of fruit.

The cooking apples aren't ready yet, but I'll be ready for them this year. Apple crumble and apple cakes ago go!

That's the beauty of an apple tree, it's a gift that just keeps on giving pounds and pounds of fruit.

Meanwhile, I hear that the total commercial crop of eating apples will reach  over 150,000 tonnes, and they're in the shops now. There's nothing like the taste of an English apple........

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Allotment days

Our allotments are on land which is owned by a charity trust and set just outside the village, alongside what is a very busy road in the countryside. The land was bequeathed by a kind man called John Loseby back in the 17th century to enable poor people in the village to grow their own food in allotment gardens.


For over three hundred years, the allotments were in full use, even though raised beds weren't in vogue all over those years ago!

By the 1960s though, people had more money, the allotments were becoming less popular, and the majority of the land was let to a local farmer.

Fast forward to 2004, there were a few more people beginning to enjoy the benefits of growing their own fruit and vegetables again  but the farmer had given up the land. So, what to do with it?

It was decided that the land should be converted to natural woodland with a fifty per cent  grant from the Shire Grants Scheme and villagers and well wishers raising the rest. Monica, who is charge of our allotments, still has all the boxes of paperwork from that time, it took so much organising.

Only native woodland trees were allowed , those local to Leicestershire. A thousand trees were planted in all, hazel, birch, alder, field maple, oak, dogwood, holly and guelder rose. Ten years later, the woodland has matured....and swatches of grass are rough mown so we can all walk through the wood....

I love to see the spindleberries  (euonymus europea) even though they're poisonous.

This year, a wild meadow area has been introduced at the far end of the field leading from the wood.
by Clive, a hedge layer who is now also rents part of the field. A mix of corn poppy, white and red  campion, meadow buttercups, lesser knapweed, yellow rattle and much more was sown.

Back in July, the meadow was definitely blue in hue....

Each week, different colours have come to the fore and last week, was very yellow.

Last Monday, many of the allotment holders met together with villagers who'd done so much to plant the wood, to share a glass or something in the sunshine. Sausages sizzled on the barbecue, and it was lovely to meet up with so many people who have helped shape the land, which was left all those years ago so that people could grow their own food.

I'd like to think that John Loseby would have approved of what his legacy looks like today.

How long have your allotments been in existence? I'd like to know....and can you beat well over three hundred years?