Tag Archives: braeburn

Apple and Socks…

I forget which week we’re on, but the lock-down measures remain in place. All for good reason; safety is paramount.

This week, has been about reflecting, about getting my hands dirty and also learning new skills.

The allotment has been on my mind a great deal. There is a lot to do, the plot has been left unloved for sometime. This, does feel rather overwhelming, as I have mentioned before. As such, I want to do little bits at a time, as much as I can.

I have an apple tree on the plot. In fact I have two. One is a Falstaff, the other is Braeburn. Both are currently in beautiful bloom with lovely pink and red blossom. The Falstaff is safe, secure, growing well. The Braeburn on the other hand, would be eight foot tall. However, due to storm damage,and not being staked properly, it is now growing bent over backwards, much like a fictional Japanese willow over a stream. I spent some time this week, propping it up. There was no way, no how, it was going to snap up straight. It is actually wonderfully well established, and happy too. I’ve never seen so much apple blossom on one tree. So rather than work against the tree, I want to work with it.

That was fun. Apart from falling over a raised bed and getting bruises.

Bruises, which didn’t help shoulder strain.

And where did I get shoulder strain from?

Well. Knitting.

I’ve been knitting for ages. Never purposefully though, and never actually finishing anything. So when a colleague told me about her sock knitting, with a member of the ‘Grape Gardening Family’ signposting me towards a book for knitting with flat needles, I had a ‘oh, yes?’ moment.

Two weeks, were spent, in between teaching and counselling, knitting like there was no tomorrow. I kid you not. I had the same brain fury that happens when I have a writing project that is all consuming. I pull the same thinking face too.

Flat needles. I’ve always knitted with these. I do have some circular needles, but they are still a bit abstract; I’ve yet to wrap my head around those. I don’t use DPNs-double pointed needles. That would also be a stretch of the visuo-spatial sketchpad.

Immersed and enthusiastic. I sprained my arm. There was three days sulking, and I have resumed knitting. I will also venture back to the plot too, at some point.

The socks, a pair, were completed. Yes, they are wonky, with one bigger than the other. But I have a pair of socks! Two weeks ago, I couldn’t read patterns, never mind knit socks.

(Yeah, Mama F has been helping too. I sat elbow to elbow with her, explaining the pattern. She’s a much more proficient knitter and crocheter than me, she can knit with her eyes closed. Doesn’t ever use patterns. But socks were new. She has since knitted a beautiful pair, that really are a piece of art.)

I’m really very proud of my wonky socks, and I have three more experimental ones in my needles. I’m using a mixture of bamboo and metal needles. The bamboo are less heavier, more warmer. Smaller metal needles do help with precision and better fitter socks.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple blossom

There are three apple trees on the plot. Two of them, the braeburn and Worcester pearmain are relatively new additions on having being planted last year. The falstaff is something of a resident. In the past, the falstaff has fruited, and last year we may have had about a dozen red apples. That was lovely. the apples were nice. This year though, all three are in blossom, lovely pink flowers, that suggest a possible bountiful  harvest. I was very surprised to see the braeburn in full blossom, I had only seen buds about a week ago. This has to be the biggest tree as well, in comparison to the other two. The worcester pearmain is the smallest. With May only just starting, I am conscious of the fact that here in Birmingham, we get a frost right up to the end of the month. This means, that in the next three weeks, if the temperature drops, and the flowers have not set; then it’s good night Vienna for them all. The blossom looks rather robust, however, so we shall exactly what happens.

The plot, the poly and potatoes

plot

I was going to play on the plot today. If only for a brief spell. What I really wanted to do, was sink potatoes. Yes, already.

I have had fairly dire success when it comes to potatoes. What for others might be a fairly straight forward thing to do, for me, is a challenge. There has been some limited success growing potatoes in raised beds, and that is what I will in a couple of months time. I don’t really want to dig trenches again into the clay. I did that last year, and the seed potatoes were basically eaten by the clay. What could have been a beautiful bountiful crop, was in fact diddly squat of not a lot really. Very few spuds actually came out, and I had planted quite a few. Was rather demoralising really. I don’t particularly want to feel that way again. Last year was the first time for a number of the varieties that I am trying this year.

This year, the spud list is as follows:

  • Red duke of York-first earlies
  • Kestral-second earlies
  • Lady balfour-Main crop
  • Pink fir apple-salad variety
  • International kidney-salad variety

What I have done today, could possibly end with disappointment, as I have set about doing an experiment. I toddled off to the plot, with a bulb planter, a transplanting trowel and a bag of red duke of york seed potatoes. I went into the poly tunnel. The soil in there has already been tidied up and even had poop put into it. It is still horrible clay though, like the rest of the plot. Then over the next hour, I sunk the seed potatoes. I started off with the bulb planter, but didn’t like it, and so the transplanter trowel dug slots for the spuds. Each seed was then popped in. and covered over with the dirt that had been dug over. This is the first time that I have sunk seed spuds undercover, and therein it’s an experiment. It is also rather early. Most people have probably only received their potato orders and are likely to be now chitting their spuds in preparation. There is fleece on hand, to cover the shoots as they come through. I realise that there is a huge gamble when we are still experiencing frosts and will do so, til the end of may. By that time, the spuds should be up and out. Leading to tomatoes and chillies being planted into the poly. I didn’t fancy having an empty poly tunnel for such a long time.

Previously, I have sown kestral and lady, not too bad. Both were okay variety, particularly in light of my spud growing naivete. International kidney got eaten by the clay last year and didn’t work. Pink Fir apple is new this year, as it is such a knobbly looking thing. What I need to reflect upon closely, is where all the potatoes are going to go, and how. I really don’t want to sink into the clay, as that is a short way to write everything off.

Beyond the potatoes, I took this opportunity to walk around and tidy up the raised beds. Three of them, require topping up with MPC. They currently contain leaf mold. These, I suspect will be used to grow potatoes. There are other beds, that would also benefit from topping up, have sunk quite a bit. I can start to work out now, what is going to go where. Mum is going to need a raised bed or two for spinach and fenugreek. Space where running beans and climbing beans might go, is currently covered in black plastic. I don’t want the clay to get even more wetter and stickier. The vast majority of the raspberry canes that were sunk before Christmas do appear to have rooted and remain plugged in. No sign of growth yet on them, though. With the fruit trees, the braeburn apple, falstaff and worcester pearmain have started to form buds. The rochester peach less so. The peach is on persica rootstock. I have done some research about the concorde pear, and it appears that another one near by would improve things. At the moment, I’m not sure there is one near by, and so might reflect on finding another to sink on the plot. The pear treee that I have, has never ever fruited. Even the victoria plum has fruited once upon a time. There are huge great big plum trees dotted on the site, I like to think that may have an effect.