Harvest Time

It seems that fall is sneaking up on us. The nights are fresh and there’s a hint of dew on the ground in the mornings. The mountain ash berries are ripening, ready for desperate robins who come back down from berry-filled hills after the harvest, looking for anything left to eat. 004

Walnuts tell us it’s fall, as they near full size. They’ll leave an awful mess of walnut stain when the outer shell breaks open to reveal the brown nut inside. Wear gloves when you pick them or you’ll have stained fingers worse than the heaviest smoker ever had.

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This apple must be the one Eve offered to Adam. It’s the sweetest and juiciest of apples, the Gravenstein.008

Smaller than the Italian prune plum are the damsons. They’re sweet and tarty, perfect for eating or making jam.

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Then there are the yellow plums (which actually still look quite greenish when they’re ripe). They are really juicy, they don’t keep long, and are best eaten right away or made into jam.  017

The red Anjou pear is delicious and looks great with the peel still on when sliced onto a dessert.016

The Wilmuta apple is a cross between Jonagold and Gravenstein. It ripens in October and keeps well. Sweet and juicy, it’s a perfect late season apple.

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And what is this weird-looking thing? Mini squashes on a shrub? It’s quince. The shrub has beautiful red-orange blooms in the spring and then bears this fruit about the size of crab apples. When they’re yellow the quinces are ripe. I don’t recommend trying to eat them but they make a good jam of the marmalade style.

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Let’s hear it for the old standby – MacIntosh apples. What’s not to like?
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The hazelnuts are nearly ripe too. I’ve learned not to get too excited about the first ones that fall off the tree when those fall winds start to blow. Usually they are the duds, so don’t waste you time husking and drying them. Later, there will still be plenty of good ones. If you’re not too impatient and don’t mind risking losing them to steller’s jays and raccoons, you can pick the nuts up without the husks which come off more easily as the nuts dry. 021

And of course there’s nature adding to my planted efforts, providing blackberries for free. It’s a huge crop this year. 023 I really would like some help with all this harvesting and so far I’ve had one volunteer. Ruby is doing her best to brave the prickles. Tells you how good these blackberries are!026

An Apple a Day

 

It’s time to pick the MacIntosh apples. I’m sorry now that I didn’t spray them with lime sulphur dormant spray last winter. They have the odd blemish here and there. But the damage is only skin deep and doesn’t affect the flavour of these sweet apples.

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I picked them carefully and put the apples into the bucket, but some of the riper ones fell to the ground. Before I could get to them, Emma rushed in to help.

“Here you go,” she said. “Oh wait! Let me just have a taste to see if it’s good enough for the bucket.” DSCN2287

“Yup! It’s pretty good. Guess there’s no point in leaving it half eaten. Best if I lean into the job!”

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“What are you looking at, Ruby?”

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“Getting down to the last bit. Takes a serious molar workout.”

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“Oh Lawdie, that was some good!”

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“Apple pieces falling out of my mouth. So what? I know…. I’m not supposed to chew with my mouth open, but who’s going to tell? Just Ruby over there. She’s being good, but I think she has some mischief in mind.”

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 “Sure do, Emma. While all the attention is on you – as usual – I’m hiding a hazelnut under my chin. I’ll crack it when no one is looking. So what if my teeth get cracked too. The hazelnuts are so good. They’re worth it.”

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“But you’re a growing child. You just go ahead and eat your apple a day, like a good little girl.”