Sunday, 11 September 2011

Ripe for a tart

What's your favourite pudding?

When I were a lad, it were Arctic Roll. Then, when I discovered my palette it was, well still Arctic Roll. I never was the adventurous sort.

Apples were my fruit of choice. I shunned the pear, despite my parents having a pear tree in the garden. The wonderful thing about apples is that if you don't like one type, there's usually another variety that will suit your fickle buds. From the crisp to the soft, sweet to the sharp and then the mighty Russet. The greengrocer is starting to stock up Russets and these nutty wonders are by far my favourite.

But there is a new boy in town, waving its wares through my bedroom window on a daily basis. The tree I have nurtured through the spring is starting to reward me handsomely.

As you may recall from an earlier post I was puzzled at the lack of fruit last year and challenged myself to see if I could entice some fruit with a bit of TLC. I invested in a pruning saw and fully intended to get myself up a ladder.

Having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I took time out to take tips from Youtube and my RHS 'grow your own' book. Essentially these were:
  • Don't over prune, it will distress the tree. No more than a third of the crown.
  • Cut diseased or dead branches
  • Remove crossing branches
  • Aim to let light and air through the middle of the tree
  • Cut above a bud just high enough to protect it, at and angle that doesn't allow water to run on to the bud.
  • Don't use a ladder (unless it's secure...)
  • "large fruit trees need to be pruned by a professional tree surgeon. Don't risk it yourself..."
There's only so much weeding and rose bush trimming a guy without a garden shed or lawn big enough to justify a petrol-driven lawn mower can take before thinking he wants to get involved with something more substantial. So I got up that ladder, saw in hand, told myself all professionals have to start somewhere and got busy in amongst the crossing branches.

As for the pear tree, apparently it's decades old. When I moved in two years ago, it was being strangled by an evil aggressive vine. I spent my weekends thoroughly hacking into that wintering weed, still very much alive, to hopefully limit its antics this summer (but of course it's twice as aggressive).

To both trees I added 'zoo poo' from Paignton Zoo and since then I've let the trees get on with their side of the bargain.  

And boy am I chuffed with the results. For all my failure to protect my crops from snails, wind and my own disorganisation this summer, the time and effort invested earlier this year is starting to prove worthwhile.

Back to the puddings, and whilst I have cravings to make my own apple pie, I've never eaten, let alone made a pear pud. Does anyone have the ultimate apple or pear dessert for me to make, bearing in mind that although I can handle myself in the kitchen, I'm no master baker, caker or dessert maker.

Tweet or facebook a link to a recipe, or leave a message on the blog.

Until then, I'll bask in the fact that my apple and pear trees are happy. And happy because at the end of the day, we all love a bit of TLC

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The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.