Apple harvest 2011 (2)

October 23, 2011

Not much more time on this today – work and some of the jobs I didn’t do yesterday because I had to work yesterday.

I made a comment previously that the two bi-annual cropping apple trees were both fruiting heavily.  True, to a point.  The Adam’s Pearmain is fruiting heavily, for a year when it normally would not.  But so far I’ve got one tray picked from the tree, one tray of windfalls.  This is rather fewer than I had expected from looking at the tree, although other comments about the size of some of the fruit still stands.  5 more trays of Mutsu (in addition to the 12 gallon containers from yesterday), loads more Mutsu on the tree, but rather fewer Adam’s Pearmain still visible.  One of the unknowns has a large number of fruit, but are beginning to fall.

I’m already running out of storage for the fruit – and they are not well stored as it is now.  Let alone finding somewhere cool.

I’ve also spent a fair bit of time trying to find ways of preserving the apples to last.  Apple puree (mixed with blackberries, rosehips and/or spices for variants) would be a good idea if I had a working empty freezer, and that’s an expensive option.  Many of these puree/preserve recipes also require straining the mix at some point, another set of equipment I don’t have or the time to produce an alternative.

Crab apples are also falling at present, and I know of a few good trees.  I love crab apple jelly – although it is a pain to make because of the straining issue (above).  Why other apples don’t make a similar quality jelly I don’t know.



Apple harvest 2011

October 22, 2011

The Food Programme (BBC Radio 4) pointed out that this year is a bumper year for tree fruit.  As if I did not know, from the orchard at what was parent’s house, and which I am inheritor-presumptive (awaiting probate)

I had no chance to pick the fruit until today, when I only had half an hour, and despite the recent windy weather, most of the fruit is on the trees.  There are quite a number of windfalls.  On occasion I’ve gone out, picked up a windfall,  and baked the apple.  I made the interesting discovery that Adam’s Pearmain turns into an apple froth when baked, just as Bramley apples (‘cookers’ to those who don’t know any more) famously do.   Another (unknown) variety does not.

The photo above shows how heavily laden the Mutsu tree is.  In the half hour, I picked two tubs of 25 liquid litres (~6 gallons) just from a few branches so laden they were pickable by just standing under the tree.  I know I’ve only taken a small percentage of that tree, and there are others I’ve not yet started on.  It is ironic that father was so critical of ‘Golden Delicious’, yet it is one of the parents of Mutsu, which obviously has Japanese parentage as well, from its name.

The orchard has four apple and one pear tree surviving.  Even the pear tree cropped this year, neighbours picked 60% of the crop early – it overhangs their land, (they gave me a slice of the pudding they made from it), but the rest rotted before it was ripe.  The Pear tree was seriously ill, I thought it would die, but in the past couple of years it has slowly started to recover. Two years ago I managed to rescue one pear before it rotted – it was, as I remembered, delicious.  Variety Pitmaston Duchess.  Two other pear trees, Conference and one so long ago I now forget have died, whereas all the apples have survived.  It has just occurred to me as to whether the pear tree is self fertile (which is questionable), or if not, where the nearest pear tree is.

The apples clearly fertalise each other, for all the complexities of apple fertility (di and tri varieties).

There are two apple trees that had been in alternate bi-annual cropping, but both are heavily laden this year – Adam’s Pearmain and Mutsu (aka Crispin).  The other two are a mix.  One has Discovery plus something else unknown, the other is a different unknown.  ‘Unknown’ means that the trees are not as advertised when purchased – one was supposed to be Lord Lambourne, I forget what the other was supposed to be.  It may be that the trees are just the rootstocks, the budding having failed.  So maybe the fruit is ‘M19’ or other rootstock variety.  The Discovery was something my father and myself added (he was showing me how to do it), budding this variety onto the existing tree.

The Adam’s Pearmain is sometimes referred to as a Cider variety, although I’ve never seen it used for that.  The tree is a bud on a dwarfing rootstock from a tree at my paternal grandparents, and the story ran as follows.

They planted a tree, probably a Cox’s Orange, but it died.  The next year, there were shoots, from the rootstock.  It soon started fruiting.  My grandfather sent off some of the fruit to the RHS, who identified it as Adam’s Pearmain.  I vaguely remember the tree as being an enormous glory – shaped just as a child would draw a tree – at the bottom of grandparent’s
garden.   The house still exists, but there appears to be a factory built over where the tree used to stand (the garden is much shorter – albeit as viewed from the road).

Some of the Adam’s Pearmain this year are enormous – I cannot remember seeing these apples this large before.  The Mutsu I do remember was an enormous fruit in any case, although this year are smaller in general, I guess due to the sheer number.

One reason to pick the fruit is because the trees over hang the greenhouse these days, and I don’t need yet more broken glass to have to replace (it’s a tricky job).  But everything is in shadow at this time of year to the sycamores literally inches beyond the end of the garden, and even put the ground floor of the house (30 yards or more away) in shade during the day when the sun passes behind them.

BLMC Morris Marina

October 19, 2011

The BLMC Morris Marina was a car that took a lot of flak in its day, let alone in the cold light of posterity – poor design, poor workmanship, poor just about everything else.  But I have an affection for the model, because that is the car I learnt to drive in, and the first I drove around post my driving test.

I had driving lessons from a school in an Austin Allegro.  But it was with my father, who had been a driving instructor in the RAF, who really taught me to drive, in the family Marina.  In those days, it was still, just, possible to have lessons from a non-registered teacher (e.g. family member) and pass the
test.  Although I did pay for lessons, that I was less than impressed by.

I remember the clutch control lesson with my father.  On a gentle slope, I had to hold the car stationary, just using the clutch and accelerator (no brakes at all).  Then move the car gently forward, then let it slide backwards a couple of feet each way.  All, I stress, on the clutch and accelerator.

On the day of my driving test, in the Allegro, I became suspicious that the instructor was still using the dual contols,so I deliberlately didn’t use the clutch for a gear change – yet the pedal went down.

I passed.  Although the question on breaking distance almost threw me; I knew the number of how far it would take to stop at speed x, but was then asked to point out something that far away….and I’m dreadful at distance estimation… I (hopefully) overestimated wildly.

The pictures are of very similar model(s) to the version I learnt to drive in with a 1275cc engine.

One consequence was that I ended up acting as non-registered teacher weeks after passing my test for a friend (then still legal, not sure if that is still true), because he had a car (and insurance, I hope), I didn’t but I had the licence, so I was his teacher as he drove us to work and back daily.

The Marina was also the first car I had to do roadside repairs on, and limp home.
While newly qualified, driving home, with only my younger brother in the car, the spring that held the throttle closed broke, (note the bad design feature) the throttle fell open and the car lurched forwards.  After the initial shock, I switched off the ignition, which stopped the car.  As I recall, it was a couple of 2p coins stuck under the throttle lever keeping it partially closed and then driving back (including up steep hills) without touching the accellerator,

Some years later, while at University (and, by then, the owner of a Volvo 144), I came across a rather outstanding Marina.  It was sand coloured, but more impressivly, had writing all over it – much of it in arabic script – about a Sahara expedition.  This was so unlikely it could possibly have been true.

Sadly, that was in the 1980s, when cameras were large items, film expensive (let alone the processing), and so was not something I took a photo of.  These days, with a camera phone always on me, I would have taken a few, albeit slightly worried about personal protection.

Even by the impressive rate of attrition of BLMC cars, the Marina has significantly less than 0.1% of the build still in existance.

(The above photos are on wikipedia, so must be GPL; they are the nearest I can find that resemble XBH285N, the car that I not only learnt to drive on, but also learnt to drive with a trailler.).