We are lucky to have a rather lovely, old apple tree in the old house garden which is groaning with apples this Autumn. I expect it is the sole survivor of an apple orchard planted in the 1950’s or so but it is very welcome and we have been harvesting many, many apples this weekend. We had a cold spell in late Spring here in the UK and I have read that this has affected this year’s harvest. I think the old house garden is so sheltered that our apple tree was covered in blossom and didn’t seem to be affected hence the great apple crop.
So what to do with all these lovely apples?
Last year, we failed at making cider or juice for that matter….I think as the apples are Bramley apples this was doomed from the start! This year, we decided to try Apple sauce.
After climbing a rather large ladder we managed to collect about half of all the apples on the tree into a wheel barrow. We couldn’t reach the apples on the top branches so we have left those. We washed the apples and selected the best to use in our apple sauce.
We chopped and sliced the apples and put them in saucepans.
We added lemon juice, water and caster sugar to each saucepan. I have no quantities for you as we just went with the amounts we thought were right! We brought this to a gentle simmer which we left, stirring occasionally as the apples softened.
Meanwhile, I made an apple and blackberry crumble with some blackberries we picked on our dog walk this morning.
Meanwhile, the sauce was coming along nicely. We added more sugar for taste and also some sweet cinnamon.
After we had left it to cool, we put it into sterilised jars ready for the fridge!
And what to do with all the leftover apples?
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.
On a trip to the garden centre or DIY store at this time of year you will find a wide variety of bulbs that can be planted now for a wonderful Spring display. My favourites for planting right now are daffodils, snowdrops, English bluebells, Fritillaria, iris, hyacinths and crocus. You can plant tulips too but I tend to leave these until late October. This is because they can rot in the ground if it is too warm and you want them planted about 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes for winter.
How do I plant bulbs?
Choose bulbs that are firm to the touch, free from any mould and make sure they are not rotten. I know this sounds common sense but I have bought packs of bulbs before that I didn’t notice were a little mushy! You can also plant bulbs left over from last year that you have stored in a dry place. As long as they are healthy, get them in the ground!
Choose you site and clear it of any weeds. You can plant amongst the other plants too to bring added colour in the Spring.
Dig according to the depth on your bulb packet. Make sure the hole is wide and deep enough for your bulb.
Your bulb needs to be planted ‘nose’ up and with the roots pointing downwards.
Replace the soil around the bulb and firm it down.
I always water the bulbs too so they can put down roots before the winter.
For a natural look, throw a handful of bulbs in your space and plant the bulbs where they land. This is great in larger areas such as woodlands.
My Favourite bulbs are:
For woodland or shaded areas: snowdrops, English bluebells and Fritillaria.
For cottage style planting: iris, daffodils.
For formal planting: globemaster alliums, tulips.
In pots: hyacinths, iris, tulips.
There are some lovely combinations that you can achieve with bulbs and it is so satisfying when they flower in the Spring.
I haven’t posted a roundup post for the old house garden for a while because we have been busy creating a rose garden in the middle section of the old house garden.
I have blogged about the middle section of the garden before here
When we moved into the old house, the garden had been badly neglected but we could see what an amazing place it could be. It was dark and gloomy and we have spent the past 18 months concentrating on the garden before we can tackle the house.
Now I could write a post explaining about how we created this garden but I must admit I find those types of posts a little tedious so instead I am posting lots of photographs so you can see the different stages. Do feel free to ask any questions though.
We tried to recycle patio slabs we already had but we did need to buy red pavers, a patio circle, cement, gravel, stones, compost and plants. As we did it all for ourselves we think we have spent about £800. We also saved money by going to a Nursery plant fair at the end of their season which saved us money on the roses and lavender.
The roses we bought are: David Austin Olivia Rose, Generous Gardener and Brother Cadfael. I love the fact that these roses have peony type blooms and are pale to mid pink with a lovely old English scent. We also planted lavender. We have room for more so I will look out for other roses in the Spring but would welcome suggestions.
Already, I love this area! We hope to buy a couple of benches for the seating circle so that we can sit and enjoy this area. We are not sure at this point whether to add a table and chair set to the patio circle or we did think a large urn on a plinth may look better. What do you think?
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.
The round-up this week is tinged with sadness as some of my vegetables are just not doing very well! My outdoor tomatoes had blight so I had to take them all out and burn them. In the same vegetable bed I have pumpkins and they have mildew! I have cut off all the affected leaves but I think it has already spread to the other bed. I think I’m going to hope that I can manage it until the pumpkins are ready to harvest. If any one has any suggestions though? I will burn all the leaves and give the bed a good turning over in the Autumn. I expect I will take out most of the soil in this bed and replace it. Luckily, my large compost bin is full and the compost is ready to put onto the garden. I think both the mildew and blight are due to all the rain yet humid conditions we had in July.
The tomatoes in the Greenhouse have been producing fruit though and the beans have been great. The salad leaves, rhubarb and beetroot all seem fine too and we have some plums, pears and crab apples appearing now on the new fruit trees.
The old apple tree is groaning with Bramley apples! They keep falling down though and giving me a shock; especially when the squirrels are chasing each other through the trees! One apple hit me directly on the head the other day and it hurt! Some of the apples are huge!
We had to employ a dry stone waller to repair the wall that fell down. Dottie kept trying to escape so it was a job that needed doing and this was one that we couldn’t do for ourselves. This is the third section of wall that has needed repairing so we are keeping our fingers crossed that this is the last, at least for a number of years anyway!
We have enjoyed some calm and sunny weather here in Wiltshire for the past 2 weeks so I have seen lots of insects enjoying the garden. The most spectacular are these huge dragonflies and damselflies that can be all sorts of stunning colours. This one today was a beautiful red and was massive! I believe you tell the difference by looking at their wings; if they are closed at rest they are damselflies and if they are open at rest, they are dragonflies.
We have been busy in the Middle part of the garden. We started this section and I blogged about it
I will be blogging about these changes soon but I will leave you with this teaser….here is Dottie on the soil that we have removed from this part of the garden! It’s taking a while because we are doing it all and it’s very hard work…..I will reveal all soon, I promise!
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES!
So far, August has been very wet and cold in Wiltshire. Today was the first day for a while that we could enjoy the garden as it was lovely and sunny. I decided to quickly take some photographs of the garden so that it looked gorgeous in the sun however this was what we have enjoyed since Saturday!
Of Course, this really took it’s toll on the garden; especially the flowers. It also made everything grow like crazy!
My pumpkins, although developing large fruits, have also got mildew on their leaves and I’m worried that it will spread so I have removed the infected leaves and have my fingers crossed! It’s due to all the rain and humid conditions. The tomatoes, beetroot and peppers all seem to be happy as they are now producing fruits.
Now vegetable lovers will shake their heads at me but I actually planted these cauliflowers hoping to attract butterflies! I’m not too keen on cauliflower but I do love butterflies so am pleased that the cabbage white has laid her eggs on them! There are also some on my nasturtiums too but they have self seeded from last year and again, I planted them for caterpillar food!
This seems to be a theme in the old house garden as we also have sawfly larvae on a small patch of roses….
Although incredibly annoying, sawfly larvae are great food for ladybirds and I have seen many ladybird larvae eating the sawfly larvae so they can stay. I garden organically so I could take these little pest off by hand but I’m hoping the damage will be limited by encouraging natural predators.
The rhubarb we planted last Spring is now enormous so we are hoping to harvest from it next year.
Now for the rest of the garden…
I replanted this plant stand last week, adding Dahlia and Hydrangea. I think it looks stunning and I’m really pleased with it.
Lastly, here is a photo of my dear little Dottie dog taken with my new camera. I’m really pleased with it. Happy August everyone……in the next round-up there will be some changes to the Old House Garden. x