Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary - November 2008

Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary - 30th November 2008


November in the Kitchen Garden and there is that familiar sound again. The soft rustle of a million leaves just waiting to fall, I must admit I often stand slightly mesmerised in the mist of the myriad different coloured leaves all gently making their way to the ground.

It's gorgeous here after a couple of dry Autumn days, each and every year I am once again surprised by the spectrum of autumnal hues and how quickly the woodland vistas can change, from crisp, lemony yellow green to deep golds and reds. Time to shake myself free of this leaf induced trance, the roar of the Leaf Hoover in the distance acts as a sharp reminder there's work to be done. Just remind me again... Do these leaves ever end?

Change is indeed on the wind this time of year and there are changes to be made in the Kitchen Garden. The first of these changes concerns the Apple trees. You may remember that last year we had a visit from Graeham the fruit tree man of ‘Crown Nurseries’ at Ufford. The purpose of his visit was to access the fruit trees and canes situated in the garden and provide instructions to Stephanie and myself on pruning methods and routine care, with special reference to our espaliers with which I was struggling. Well, Graeham was a real font of knowledge giving lots of practical advice and tips, and whilst inspecting our rather unusual looking espaliers came to a rather edifying conclusion... "Wrong trees for the job!"

Phew, I had been struggling with those trees. My trusty Felco’s had trimmed and chopped but it makes no difference how hard you try or how much you prune, if you have the wrong rootstock and missed out somewhat on the formative pruning you are not going to be able to form beautiful fruit laden trusses.

So it was off to Ufford to collect the right trees for the job, with rootstocks more suitable for espalier training. We purchased two Bramley Seedlings, one Sunset and one Red Pippin (formerly known as Fiesta) these were all two tiered espaliers on a cane framework, I thought it best to get a head start, all the better to show off the Wire and Gripple frameworks.

Tree RemovalThe old trees were removed and resituated by Dave to another location in the surrounding grounds, freed from their shackles they can ‘grow’ old more gracefully. Then it was time to grab my Large Spade and get down to digging some nice big planting holes and working in a trug full of organic matter. Our soil here is very sandy and free draining and this will act as a nutrient rich reservoir for thirsty roots. Supports were already in place, this consists of two posts with wire and gripples firmly between, this forms a taught framework to which the branches can be tied, it really is simplicity itself. What's more these wires can easily be removed and re-used as necessary, all very handy for me!

Next comes planting the trees, not too deep; you should be able to see the line on the trunk New Trees Kitchen Gardenwere it was originally planted, plant to this depth - any deeper will cause problems. Do make sure they are in exactly the right spot before you back fill and gently firm-in. If you are going to have any planting underneath your trees it is worth doing this now as you will avoid disturbing your tree's roots later on. I have planted Yarrow under several trees in the garden as this pretty plant is a soil improver and boosts plants growing around it.  Achillia can also tolerate dry conditions under fruit trees and makes a lovely herbal tea!

The next step tying in the branches to the gripple wires, for this I use the brilliant ‘Soft Tie’ (which reminds me I must order some more for the potting shed) I always have a reel of this usefull and again  ‘re-seable’ tie to hand.

Lastly... ”Orf with their heads”...  I only need two tiers, any more and the beds behind will be too shaded. Its the right time now for this ‘formative’ pruning and with a deft swipe of the secateurs the little trees are beheaded nice and cleanly just above the second tier. Make sure your blades are good and sharp for this as you want a nice clean cut, it may be time to use the Sharpener
Here's to healthy, happy apple trees and lovely ripe fruit in the not too distant future.

Harvesting CarrotsBefore I sign off I would like to mention our Kitchen Garden Carrots (yes again) I am still harvesting those roots! Having sowed a selection of seeds into the raised bed this June we are being rewarded with lovely winter yields into November and  it seems probably beyond. A good dose of sandy soil, a deeper bed, some of the Root Fertiliser and time and we may have fresh from the garden Christmas carrots (although Stephanie is getting through them very quickly). Our recent cold snap has not affected them and nematodes seem to have kept the slugs at bay, I will let you know how long they last and if they succumb to frost. I must say that its more convenient than a clamp and the Chantennays are still delicious (Stephanie’s words not mine) even though they have gotten real big.

I will divulge information on yet more changes next time, until then its back to those countless leaves.

  Sharon Louise Signature