We all know what rubbish weather we’ve had for an excuse of a summer this year – but it has taken its toll on nature and the garden. So this week’s nature notes come as a look at fruit. In our village we are lucky enough to have an apple-pressing business, where you can take your surplus apples and for a reasonable price have them pressed, the juice pasteurized so that it will keep, and bottled. Last year there were so many apples we had a few extra bottles done – just as well as this year’s apples do not look good at all! In spring I took pictures of trees laden with blossom – and then it rained, and rained! Some of the blossom was early enough and has set – so we will have fruit from a couple of varieties, other varieties it’s a case of spot the apple. On top of this, some that did set well have now started to split. Whether this is because of a the repeated pattern of a few hot dry days followed by a week of wet I don’t know, but the toll on the apples is high. Add in that apples which seemed perfect but are unfortunately close to a suitable perching-upon twig, are being attacked by the birds – now, before they are ripe!
And before I move on from apples – fallen ones also provide a feast for other wildlife. First the rabbits come along and nibble them, characteristically leaving one chewed flat side. Then the wasps find this opened juicy treat, then as evening comes on the slugs come out to
play gorge. Last summer we also had a glut of bullace ( a wild plum that grows in our orchard hedge) and I created a microwave recipe for making jam from them. This year I won’t have enough to make jam from them that’s for certain, and again, many are splitting before thay are fully ripe.
And even in the green house the trend goes on – the grapes are a wipe-out as they have split this year too – and though the interior conditions are controlled the ‘watering’ isn’t as the roots of the vine are outside in the ground, as recommended.
Inside watering is controlled – and even though the grapes are in a bad way the cucumbers are going bananas – and growing like grapes in bunches. So much so that I have made sweet cucumber pickle from some of the excess. And in my usual way, having an ingredient missing (celery seeds), I substituted another (cumin seeds) and have created a ‘warmer’ cucumber pickle. If you are inundated with cucumbers the recipe is on the Recipe drop downs from top bar.
The winner of an ecopy of ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ for correctly identifying the caterpillar last month goes to Liz Gentil and the caterpillar was the voracious Mullein Moth caterpillar Cucullia verbasci
And for my FWT cheerleaders the results for the past week are – weight the same and measurements the same as last week. Could it be the picnic party I went to on Saturday? We will see next week.
Again– an urgent message for DeborahKennedy2@…. please contact me back before 10/9/12 after which I must deem that you have refused the prize offered and make a re-draw.
Finally – your last chance to claim a free e-copy of my novella LEAVE TO APPEAL just follow the link, details near end of page.
What changes in nature have you noticed with the changes in weather? How do you deal with excess produce in the garden? I love to hear from you on the blog – click on the title if you are reading via the email and it takes you through to the main blog where you can add comments!